Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chocolate Review: World Market's 99% Cacao

By Benjamin Skipper

One of the greatest pleasures about my relocation has been the discovery of a close by Cost Plus World Market, which has an incredibly interesting array of food items from all over the world. They even have a great selection of various chocolates, including their own line. When I saw the 99% cacao variety I wanted it immediately, as I've been wanting to try a 99% chocolate for a very long time now. I've always been on the search for Lindt's 99% variety, but it's been impossible to find so far, so World Market has made me very excited. I couldn't wait to get it in my tasting queue.

It's a good question why one would stop at 99% cacao and not just go full out 100%, but the sliver of sweetness is enough to round off the bitterness and perhaps create a better texture by preventing crystallization. Baking bars, largely, are not manufactured with the intention for them to be eaten pure that way, even though people do, so they're usually very hard and dry texturally, making 99% bars a better choice given different manufacturing practices, such as a greater ratio of fat to solids for a better melt.

For World Market, the bitterness dominates almost the entirety of the flavor profile and has a fruity finish, though nothing I'd consider similar to currants as stated in the tasting notes. The currants do exist subtly within the aroma, however, along with a mild theme of chocolate. Its mouthfeel is okay since it is somewhat lumpy, but it still is pleasurably soft and slow melting.

The aesthetics kind of perplex me. What are they going for with the packaging? It's unoffensive and alright to the eyes, but it makes me perceive it as something that would sit on a warehouse shelf, especially since the product number is listed right on the front. The bar itself satisfies but merely the basics of desirable aesthetics, having a healthy shine and strong snap, and on each square division the World Market brand is printed in a straight-lined font. For what it's worth, it all seems acceptable.

This was a let-down to be honest, as I had quite hyped up in my mind what a 99% bar would taste like. World Market's isn't very complex at all, and the bitterness is slightly unpleasant. Nonetheless, the mouthfeel is definitely much better than that of actual baking chocolate, and its bitterness is a quality I'd still like to pair with a nut butter. Best of all, it's very affordable, clocking in at $1.99 at my store. It's not impressive, but would probably taste great with other things, such as fruit, so I offer my recommendation for this being a good chocolate to pair with other things, but recommend looking elsewhere if you want something to eat on its own.

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