By Benjamin Skipper
Oddly enough Endangered Species' 88% dark chocolate was one of those chocolates I had to eat multiple times in order to develop a taste for it. I was previously ready to construct a negative review for this variety, but procrastinating on the writing and eating more of the bars in my stash has made me change my mind, though with some qualifications.
Its flavor is obvious: Very dark chocolate with a kiss of sweetness. The vanilla is so subtle that it's barely noticeable and serves only to blunt the natural bitterness of the cocao, but you can detect it if you pay attention. Otherwise: It has good flavor, but there's not much else I can say except "Hey! It's chocolate!"
My biggest personal qualm is with the mouthfeel. Surprisingly, this chocolate doesn't do much in the way of melting in your mouth, so it's going to pretty much stay crunchy up until the last moment unless you eat very slowly. But hey, when you're eating chocolate you don't eat slowly, do you? (I should, I realize.) In this realm I think Lindt's 90% is superior, but I'm hesitant to say so until I eat it again and give it its own review. From memory I recall a creamier mouthfeel, but also a much stronger vanilla presence, so strong that they might as well call it "90% cocoa with vanilla" to be totally accurate. If my memory is correct, then this provides good reasons to consume both brands: Endangered Species for crunchiness and more intense chocolate, and Lindt for creaminess and more intense vanilla. Have both on your shelves!
However, it might be a while before I buy another Lindt bar to confirm my interpretations as my local stores have recently taken the 90% variety off their shelves, meaning I'm likely to need an online venue. For this I reach out to my readers: Is there a good online chocolate website that carries multiple brands? From what I have seen, most stores only carry a handful a brands, meaning one has to go across multiple sites in order to satisfy one's desires, therefore being subject to multiple packages and shipping rates. It'd be nice if I could get it all in one place, thereby negating the need to buy a particular variety in bulk to make it cost-effective.
For the ES 88% variety, I'd consider it worthy of buying in bulk, and am glad I did. My previous negative reaction was mainly due to its mouthfeel and weak vanilla, but now I've come to see it as something rather distinct to this bar. I shouldn't taste one good bar and then expect other brands to conform to that experience; that'd make things boring. However, mint and ginger are still my top favorites.
I'm going to have to get some new varieties to try soon. I'm down to my last two "new" bars in the fridge.