This Spider Monkey Endangered Species bar was part of their Organic Health line. I think the “health” part means that they’re full of those trendy superfruits and things of dubious actual health benefit.
The bar was Dark Chocolate with Goji Berry, Pecans, & Maca. Maca seems to fall pretty squarely in that trendy health claims category. Wikipedia claims it may help gentlemen in the bedroom…
The 70% rainforest alliance certified cocoa had a softer snap than that of the 72% I reviewed on Monday. It smelled lightly and pleasantly fruity.
The chocolate bar’s melt was thick. It was sprinkled through with little white bits of pecan and… stuff.
It started off nice, then brightened and became fruitily sweet, probably thanks to the goji berry. It then took on a medicinal weirdness that was quite artificial and off-putting.
The little embedded bits of stuff added a puffed wheat essence of toastiness, which was nice, and a heavy astringency, which was not so nice.
The finish was extremely bitter and quite astringent. It left a bad taste and feel in my mouth. I didn’t notice any pecan flavors, and I just couldn’t bring myself to try more of the chocolate to try to find them.
I was disappointed. This bar seemed so promising and ended up tasting so awfully medicinal and moisture-sucking. A —.
Endangered Species is a brand that I’ve had a few times but only properly reviewed once. A sale at Whole Foods prompted me to pick up a couple of bars for review.
Their gimmick is that they give 10% of their profits for animal conservation. As an added plus, their cacao is “100% ethically traded”, which I think is in the spirit of Fair Trade without the full certification.
Each flavor is branded with an endangered animal, and the inside of the wrapper describes the animal and their plight. The Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee was the black rhino.
The beautifully tempered bar was scored into 12 squares, each imprinted with their tree logo. The 72% dark chocolate had a sharp snap and broke pretty cleanly along the breaks.
That chocolate was dry with a smooth, non-creamy melt with no astringency. Its flavor was that of dusky cocoa powder with a light sweetness.
The toffee bits were sprinkled throughout the bar. They were pretty tiny and added a light crunch and little flashes of sweetness.
I didn’t get any buttery toffee notes, but there was a light but noticeable nuttiness from the hazelnuts. I wish the toffee made more of a noticeable impact.
An OM, mostly carried by the great flavor of the chocolate, with a lament about the missed toffee opportunity.
After the success of my first chocolate tasting (notes here), I held a second one with the extra bars. Unfortunately, by the time the second tasting rolled around, most of the bars had bloomed thanks to New Haven humidity and temperature fluctuations and a lack of air conditioning. The Vosges chocolate bars were the only ones that survived because their wrappers are airtight. We tasted them anyway, and all the flavors were there; it’s just that the textures were all wrong. Sadness. Here’s what we tasted, with my notes:
- Green and Black’s milk, 34% – sweet, yogurty flavor; tastes like a Cadbury mini-egg. Thick texture.
- Dagoba milk, 37% – slightly fruitier than the Green and Black’s with a dusky finish.
- Vosges Macha (Japanese macha green tea in 41% deep milk) – woodsy dirt flavor, brittle texture. Tastes like green tea, as it should. I don’t like the taste of green tea, but if you do, this bar is true to its name.
- Vosges Woolloomooloo (roasted and salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds in 41% deep chocolate) – I’ve reviewed the truffle version of this bar. Nicely nutty, smells of coconut.
- Vosges Goji (Tibetan goji berries, pink Himalayan salt in 41% deep milk) – fruitiness to the bar; goji berries just taste like red berries. Saltiness works, I think.
- Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar (applewood smoked bacon, alderwood smoked salt in 41% deep milk chocolate) – I bought another one of these bars because it’s such a great conversation piece for tastings.
- Chocolove dark chocolate, 55% – nuttiness to the flavor, which starts off sweet and has a long finish. Vanilla notes? Thick texture.
- Nirvana Single Origin Granada, 60% – fairly straightforward cocoa flavor with a strong roasted taste.
- Scharffen Berger 62% semisweet – fruity notes, sweet finish
- Vosges Calindia (Indian green cardamom, organic California walnuts, dried plums in 65% Venezualan dark chocolate) – strong spice flavor. Can taste the sweetness of the plums and feel where it adds texture.
- Nirvana Single Origin Santa Domingo, 67% – strong earthiness, dirt flavor. Not at all well received (the wrapper promised herbal tones, which must have been the dirt flavor people complained about).
- Green and Black’s Maya Gold (orange and spices) – on first taste, strong notes of pepper with a light orange finish. On second taste, orange flavor stronger. Many people said the bar tasted like marmalade.
- Scharffen Berger 70% bittersweet – super fruity with a cocoa finish
- Dagoba Conacado, 73% – nutty
- Dagoba New Moon, 74% – sweeter than the Conacado with a dark fruitiness
- Dagoba Xocolatl, 74% with chilies and nibs – slight fruitiness to the chocolate. STRONG chili flavor that wallops your taste buds on first impact. Not the way I like my chili chocolate.
- Endangered Species 88% Extreme Dark (panther) – vanilla scent with a nice smoky flavor.
- Ghirardelli 100% baking chocolate – completely dries up the mouth. Worse than the 100% La Maison du Chocolat bar.
My tasting notes, as promised. I loved how I was able to notice the subtle differences between the bars by tasting them all together. For example, when I first tasted the Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk, I thought it was sweet and yogurty. Tasting it right after the Chocolove Milk and the Papua single origin bar, the Scharffen Berger bar suddenly took on smoky qualities.
- Chocolove Milk Chocolate (33%) – thick and creamy, coats the tongue heavily; vanilla and caramel notes
- Nirvana Belgian Chocolates’ Papua single origin (35%) – dull and greasy looking, coffee smell, vanilla and yogurt flavor
- Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk (41%) – dusky, smoky flavor, soft snap with a thick and heavy melt, lingering finish
- Endangered Species Smooth Milk (52%) – earthy, pepper flavor
- Vosges Naga Bar (41%) – a bit grainy with a great snap, coconut flavor
- Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar (41%) – smells smoky, bacon bits give it a large grain, super salty bar
- Vosges Red Fire or Oaxaca Bars (55%) – starts off sweet but the chili burn and the heat builds, a finish that lingers in the back of the throat
- Chocolove Ginger Crystallized in Dark Chocolate (65%) – sweet, sugar flavor, light ginger and citrusy notes
- Chocolove Strong Dark (70%) – earthy aroma, greasy texture
- Lake Champlain Single Origin Sao Thome (70%) – sweet and fruity notes
- Vosges Creole Bar (70%) – sweet start, coffee finish that lingers, a creamy melt around the coffee bean and nib bits
- Scharffen Berger Antilles (75%) – my favorite of the bunch – a sharp snap on a glossy, dark bar, creamy melt, lingering finish
- Lake Champlain Single Origin Tanzania (75%) – banana notes, thinner melt, unpleasant finish that’s buttery and lingering
- Scharffen Berger Extra Dark (82%) – bitter tobacco notes with a slightly sweet finish
- La Maison Du Chocolat Coro (100%) – bitter start, dries out the mouth
- Valrhona Gianduja Noisette (no %, but super, super light milk) -super soft, almost like fudge at room temperature, quite soft, creamy, heavy, and thick with strong hazelnut flavors
It’s been a while since I posted a chocolate party review. I’m going to finish up the chocolate party posts next week so I can move on to covering my winter break candy tour. Consider these part of cleaning out my candy backlog.
Endangered Species Chocolate (BUY!) donates 10% of their profits”to help support species, habitat and humanity,” and they use their chocolate bar wrappers to raise awareness about endangered species. Some bars are organic, and I think all are fair trade. My bar was all about the wolf, and it was delicious.
Even though this dark bar boasts a high cacao content of 70 percent, it wasn’t bitter at all. If anything, I’d deem it bittersweet, and I found it surprisingly sweet for dark chocolate. The bar had an exceptional, heavy snap and a great dark finish. The almonds (in tiny pieces) added another smoky component to the bar, which worked nicely. Finally, the bar was visually gorgeous, with a deep, dark, rich color and a lovely gloss.
The bits of cranberry inside the bar were quite noticeable. You can see a piece of one poking out in the photo. They were dried pieces of cranberry, like raisins (or craisins, I guess). Usually the cranberry pieces melded nicely with the dark finish, but every once in a while a chunk of cranberry would be too big, too sweet, and too distracting.
At first I didn’t find this bar to be too exceptional. Sure, it was great dark chocolate, but so what? Yet I found myself reaching for more… and more… and more… It turned out to be quite addictive, enough so to earn a ZOMG! rating from me. Many thanks to my friend Katie for buying it for me. My friends’ ratings placed it 7th with a score of 3.5/5. I should note that the people who liked it really liked it.
My bar was just one of 15 varieties. I can’t wait to taste my way through more.