By Benjamin Skipper
At long last I have restocked my fridge with new chocolates to try and can restart my stream of chocolate reviews. This time, however, I think I'll leave you in the dark as to what's in my fridge so you'll be nicely surprised when the reviews come. I've got some nice ones for this round, including a variety I promised previously to review and two soy-free bars.
This time Dagoba's 74% cacao Beaucoup Berries will be taken into consideration, which is a mixture of cranberries, cherries, and vanilla. Someone recommended this brand to me on Twitter, and I have to admit that I'm pleased enough to try the line.
Overall, I am satisfied. Unlike other bars with fruit integrations I've had this bar has done well to ensure everything is thoroughly integrated, so you won't run into the problem of getting different flavor impressions in each bite; every section delivers on its fruity promise. However, the cherries and the cranberries tend to combine in a way that their flavors fuse together and offer their own combination, so I couldn't distinguish them. This is alright since they do leave a nice fruity impression, so I guess it might be a bit irrational to want to dissect the flavors in such a fashion. Unfortunately, the vanilla appears to either be very weak or muted by the other flavors, so I couldn't detect it at all, though it could be the case that it was merely utilized to round off any bitterness of the cacao. Still, I would like to see it made more intense, but it seems like Lindt is still the brand to depend on for that level of vanilla-intensity.
I'm totally satisfied with the texture. The bar is nicely thin to allow you to work with your incisors, melts nicely in the mouth, and is overall easy to deal with. The berries themselves add the addition of a nice squishy, gooey bite every now and then, which is a pleasant contrast to the solidity of the chocolate itself. How it can be the case that the berries can be uneven in texture but fully integrated in flavor I do not know, but it is a very nice paradox.
Aesthetically, I'd rate the totality of this bar to be well above average, though not exemplary. The package itself, combined with its dark pink colors and design of cacao plants, leaves a good impression of cheerfulness, romance, and femininity all at once while delivering a bar suitable to those emotional evaluations. The bar itself isn't very artistically designed, but I do give them full credit for what they did accomplish. Instead of being dividable by squares the bar is divided up into rectangles along the width, and on each rectangle the Dagoba brand is spelled fully out. The rectangle method of division is new to me so this bar takes on a unique individuality, and while the writing out of the brand may sound unimaginative, it's better than putting nothing or, worse, putting some lame bizarre design of arbitrary shapes, like lines and dots. I forgot to investigate more closely while I was eating, but I believe the brand is also written in the same font as the one on the wrapper, which further emphasizes the name as more of a signature rather than a mere printing or advertisement. The only downside I can find is that this bar is divided too finely -- into about ten or so sections for a 56 gram bar -- so despite my careful efforts I kept breaking the bar into shards rather than its individual sections. However, I won't subtract credit since I think I could have been more careful, and the division does make for a nice way to break things into bite sized pieces or pieces for sharing (since one those tiny rectangles it probably all you'd want to share). You could possibly even save money by breaking these bars up for tasting parties rather than buying actual tasting squares.
On price, I'd have to say it's a bit on the high side for a 56 gram bar. I paid $1.26 per ounce, whereas I paid .90 cents per ounce and lower for brands like Endangered Species and Lindt. That means it can be quite out of reach, similar to the New Tree line though bigger and slightly cheaper. Still, I have to admit that I've softened my view on how much I'd be willing to spend on chocolate, so I won't consider this too much of a deterrent for trying this brand out in the future. Additionally, the Lucky Vitamin shop carries, I believe, the whole Dagoba line and can offer a more justifiable source of this chocolate since you can buy it in conjunction with other products and pay an acceptable shipping cost. The shipping cost for New Tree's chocolates from the manufacturer is positively outrageous ($10 base!) at my income level, so I'll continue to abstain from that brand until I've otherwise saved up a significant amount or can find a more palatable source.
In summation, I like this bar and believe it to be above average, though I'm not impressed enough to include it into my list of favorite chocolates. Sure, I'd certainly be willing to pay for it again, but since it's beaten out by other favorite chocolates in my hierarchy I'm not sure when exactly I'd buy it again. Its virtues consist of nice aesthetics, thorough flavor integration, and a pleasantly inconsistent texture. On the vice side, the vanilla extract is too mild for it to be worthy of advertisement, the division might be a little too fine, and it's a bit on the pricey side, though somewhat still fair. I'd recommend this bar, and I will continue to give consideration to other varieties of this brand in the future.