Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Chocolate Review: Green & Black's 85%

By Benjamin Skipper

Green & Black's is actually the chocolate brand that originally got me into eating dark chocolate. During the first several weeks of my paleo diet I was feeling fine except for my intense cravings for sugar, especially lactose sugar. I know that satisfying those cravings would only work to perpetuate them, but I also knew that trying to ride out the storm was intensely uncomfortable, so I looked for a way to satisfy my cravings in a somewhat paleo-friendly way. One day I stumbled upon G & B's chocolate in the grocery store and remembered what I read about dark chocolate, so I ended up buying some bars. When I first started eating them I was only slightly pleased by the flavor and merely tolerated the bitter aftertaste, but my determination to defeat my sugar cravings made me continue munching dark chocolate as a way to satisfy myself. Well, I managed to get myself to where I virtually never have constant lactose and table sugar cravings, and now I actually nurture a love of dark chocolate and can consume bars composed of up to 100% cacao. I'm so glad I stuck it out and developed the taste for this wonderful stuff!

I'm not sure exactly what variety I started out with -- it may have been the 70% or mint variety --but today in consideration is the 85% variety, one of the earliest varieties I tried nonetheless. Given the considerably prestigious aura around this brand name I had high expectations -- and was not disappointed at all.

This absolutely gives both of Lindt's varieties a run for their money (1, 2); in fact, I think that this bar may inch forward enough to come out first. Where do I start?

The flavor profile is fantastic and utterly surprised me. I remember strongly there being a chemical-like bitterness when I first ate G & B's, but now that I'm acclimated to dark chocolate I found that there was no bitterness at all. It tastes and smells luxuriously of drinking cocoa, and the vanilla note is very assertive and blends into the experience perfectly without really being a separate player. The sweetness is also of the perfect amount, bringing the right balance to allow this bar to be experienced for its darkness without being distorted otherwise.

But my favorite part of this bar absolutely has to be the mouthfeel. It's heaven! In contrast to Lindt, this bar is more compact and thicker, but it seems to squeeze down in size somehow without translating to more density. I daresay this bar melts even better than Lindt, as the squares seem to slowly pull apart without really cracking and melts virtually instantaneously. The extra thickness comes in wonderfully here, as each bite turns into viscous goo at an incredibly fast rate, if it can be measured in time at all. Lindt on the other hand is more firmly solid and does take a slightly longer time to melt. Lindt is the hare to Endangered Species' tortoise, but G& B's is the cheetah to Lindt's hare. Do not eat this at anything other than room temperature lest you deprive yourself of such glory.

The aesthetics are lovely too, and G & B's is in fact the brand that made me pay attention to the appearance of the packaging to begin with. The paper is a warm chocolately brown with a wealthy gold writing font. I am infinitely fond of the gold foil as well, as it makes the chocolate look like a bar of gold out of a treasure chest. Fitting, no? The bar is divided into thirty individual squares, and while they're all tiny they break off easily without coming off in hunks or creating fissures. Each square is personalized with the G & B's signature apostrophe leaf, except for one or so square in the far corner which has the abbreviated titled of Green & Black's. G & B's gets full credit in the artistic realm.

I was also impressed by how simply delicious this bar looked. The color is absolutely consistent without any tone fluctuations or gritty "dust" from the chocolate breaking apart on the near-microscopic level; it is whole and complete. It lacks shine, but this is no vice since it has a dominant caramel glow that makes the bar light up slightly. The snap is quiet and subtle, virtually an indication of how soft the pieces will be in your mouth.

I have not a solitary complaint; this bar is wonderful. The mouthfeel alone is what makes me prefer this over Lindt's own 85%, and even their 90%. This chocolate bar is what a chocolate bar ought to be; it is now my plain chocolate of choice.

However, there might be some other slight considerations that could make a change, for they do differ slightly in nutritional content. I'd advise taking this information with a grain of salt, because the nutritional information on my chocolate wrapper contradicts slightly the web information. Comparing all three varieties (Lindt's 85% and 90%, and G & B's 85%), G & B's has an higher overall carb count than Lindt's 85% and is lower than Lindt's 90%, but it significantly bests both brands in its overall and saturated fat content. This higher fat content might explain the heavenly mouthfeel, and saturated fat is certainly a welcome attribute to the paleo diet. Your own dietary preferences may make you decide otherwise, but I prefer the higher fat content since the carb and sugar differences are negligible. On the other hand, if money is your primary concern here, then Lindt is the cheaper option.

This bar was a pleasant refutement of my memories and has instantly shot to one of the highest positions of my favorites list (below, of course, my beloved ). I'll definitely be eating this in the future and will perhaps sometime buy it in bulk. I greatly recommend this chocolate

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