Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Chocolate Review: Endangered Species 72% with Cacao Nibs

By Benjamin Skipper

Now cacao nibs is something I've never had before! If I understand correctly, cacao nibs are simply broken up pieces of roasted cacao beans. I've been interested in trying them, and I'd definitely be intrigued to see how they'd work in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, which perhaps may be idea fodder for my culinary education in the future. This time we're considering Endangered Species 72% dark chocolate with cacao nibs.

The essential difference I noticed from this being sweetened chocolate is a very mild crispiness. No, not crunchiness: crispiness. The cacao nibs here have been broken up to the point that they're smaller than rice or tapioca grains, so while they have a very noticeable impact on the texture they can hardly be seen, which means they don't contribute much to aesthetics. I appreciate this attribute greatly, as I'm a very big fan of crispy textures and enjoyed them in candy bars in my pre-paleo days.

The nibs have an impact on the flavor profile, but only subtly so, and mostly the aftertaste at that. At first I was disappointed when I bit in the bar and thought that the nibs merely affected the texture, but a few second passed and I noticed a slightly nutty aftertaste. To be precise, it is quite reminiscent of the aroma of hazelnuts. It isn't very intense, so you'll have to be one to pay attention in order to not let it escape your notice.

As for the solid chocolate itself, it's of the perfect amount of sweetness and has a nice melty mouthfeel with no traces of the bitterness of cacao. It's dense enough that it won't necessarily snap off and melt upon biting, but its low melting point is still sufficient to avoid being crunchy. On the flavor notes, I was surprised since I fully expected the nibs to contribute some bitterness of the sorts, but they did perhaps at least heighten the chocolate note. Once again I felt compelled to consume the whole bar despite promising myself to eat only half: a vice on my behalf and a virtue to the chocolate. I may have sinned nutritionally, but Endangered Species is to be commended.

Overall this bar offers some subtle virtues, but generally the solid chocolate dominates. The nibs contribute a crispy texture and hazelnut-aroma aftertaste, but not much else. The chocolate has just the right amount of sweetness and a soft texture, though I'd still like to see a bitter contrast. I much like some saltiness with anything that has a crispy texture, so I'd like to see in the future a cacao nibs bar with sea salt added.

The attributes of this bar are of a mild nature, but they are enough that I would certainly enjoy this again. I recommend it.

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