Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chocolate Review: Endangered Species' Goji Berry, Pecans and Maca

By Benjamin Skipper

Endangered Species' 70% organic dark chocolate with goji berry, pecans and maca is probably the weirdest chocolate I've ever eaten, and I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd be willing to try it again. It says dark chocolate, but it actually doesn't taste like dark chocolate. Somehow the flavors involved -- the chocolate, berry, nuts, and maca -- all fuse in a way that makes this chocolate seem way sweeter than it actually is. According to the label it has ten grams of sugar per serving, two grams lower than my darker and beloved mint, but it tastes almost exactly like milk chocolate, which isn't a good thing if you like the bitterness. If they actually made this variety in a milk chocolate version it would probably be sickeningly sweet.

However, it could also be considered a plus that the flavors all fused together so nicely, leaving little evidence of separateness. The milky flavor is very strong, but one can still detect a subtle hint of pecans and an even subtler hint of the goji berry. I've never heard of or eaten maca before this bar, so I can't say anything about its individual presence except that it doesn't disrupt the balance. As for those unfamiliar with goji berries, my interpretation, based on some juice I drank from my local Wal-mart, is that they taste almost exactly like a fusion of oranges and cranberries.

While the outside of the bar looks fine as par the norm for ES, I've found the appearance after biting into it to be rather off-putting. The pecans or maca, I don't know which or if both, integrated into the chocolate leave their mark in the form of big white chunks, which reminds me of cobwebs and mold. This is probably subjective, however, as many might otherwise immediately think of the rice found in Crunch bars.

My final verdict is that one will have to decide based on personal sweetness preferences. For me, if something is too sweet then my taste buds can only react for a short amount of time before becoming desensitized; the first few bites of the bar were awesome, but after that: blah. As such, I'll probably never try this bar again. However, if you're eating dark chocolate solely for health reasons, in addition to or in spite of taste, then you might appreciate its imitation milkiness while at the same time enjoying nutritional benefits. Of course, stay away if you've never liked milk chocolate to begin with.

This variety offers a unique fusion of flavors that will surprise one with an unanticipated amount of sweetness for this high a level of cocao content, which can be a good or bad thing depending on one's preferences. Since I already have a nifty list of already established higher favorites, such as New Tree's ginger and Endangered Species' mint, so I don't think I'll be making room for it in the refrigerator any time soon.

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