The Dark Chocolate Blog

Tasting notes and reviews of premium dark chocolates. A Critical Tastings website.

TCHO Chocolatey 70% Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: TCHO
Cocoa Content: 70%
Location: Ghana
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B

TCHO is a chocolate manufacturer from San Francisco whose chocolates are primarily sold at Starbucks as well as Whole Foods (in certain regions). I was recently given a sample of their 4 "flavor" chocolates. These are single-origin chocolates that have been selected to highlight certain flavors common to dark chocolate. Today I am tasting the "Chocolatey", which is a 70% dark chocolate bar made with Ghanan cacao. The bar is mahogany-red in color. the nose detects vanilla and cocoa powder.

On the palate there is a very prominent walnut note up front that transitions to espresso. Fudge is notable, as are some earthy and woody highlights. There is a fairly mild acidity that leads to the faintest hint of blackberries. Chewing the TCHO Chocolatey beings forward vanilla, sweet spice, banana and coffee grounds. The melt is quite smooth. The finish has fudge and nuts with trailing berry notes as well as some caramel.

The TCHO Chocolatey is an enjoyable chocolate. I certainly see where they get the Chocolatey descriptor, as fudge is prominent, as well as a heavy nuttiness up front. Overall, the flavor profile is fairly nondescript, but this is a tasty bar nonetheless.

Chocolat Bonnat Chuao 75% Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Chocolat Bonnat
Cocoa Content: 75%
Location: Venezuela
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A-

Today we are tasting Bonnat's take on the legendary Chuao chocolate. The Bonnat Chuao bar is deep brown with ruby and purple highlights. The nose has woody and nutty notes along with some espresso.

The palate first finds nutty notes, followed by a building acidity. There is some juiciness here with a faint orange peel/citrus note. There is a rich chocolate flavor. Espresso, oak, vanilla and mint all highlight the chocolate flavor. Chewing the Chocolat Bonnat Chuao brings forward notes of wood, nuts, earth, cinnamon and a rich chocolate note that is reminiscent of pudding or mousse. The Bonnat Chuao has a smooth melt with some cooling sensation and a bit of a fudgy texture. The finish is complex with rich chocolate, bitter espresso, nuts, orange peel and sweet spice aromatics.

While the Bonnat Chuao is a great chocolate bar, I did find the flavors to be a bit understated. With that caveat, the construction and melt are absolutely flawless, and the "chocolatiness" is outstanding. This is probably the most accessible Chuao I've tried. If you're looking to dip your toes in ultra-premium dark chocolate, this is a good place to start.

Pralus Chuao

Manufacturer: Pralus
Cocoa Content: 75%
Location: Venezuela
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A+

Today we turn to Pralus for their interpretation of the legendary Chuao bean. Right from the beginning it is clear that this is something special as the Chuao bar is packaged in a mini-box as opposed to the usual paper and foil packaging. The bar is brown with plenty of brick-red highlights. The nose detects rich, earthy chocolate with a touch of mint.

On the palate, the classic Pralus roast notes are unmistakeable. There is a lively acidity here with lemon notes. Earthiness is pronounced, in particular a big tobacco note. There is a bite of bitter espresso that fades into waves of alternating acidity and earthiness. Behind all the layers there is a rich chocolate background. Also here are some smoke and wood (mesquite in particular). Chewing the Pralus Chuao brings forward rich chocolate, oak, walnuts and lemon zest. The melt is smooth and creamy, with some astringency at the end. The finish is long and evolving. Wood smoke, citrus and smoky espresso start out, then some nuttiness starts to peek through, and oaky tannins start to show up after a long fade.

Pralus has taken an exceptional bean and produced an equally exceptional chocolate with their interpretation of the Chuao. The end result is amazingly complex, yet the rich chocolate flavor never gets lost. This isn't as heavily roasted as some of their other offerings, but the flavor is unmistakably Pralus. The Pralus roast style is a perfect match for the earthiness in this chocolate, but the fruit notes are still able to shine through. This chocolate is about as good as it gets.

Domori Chuao Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Domori
Cocoa Content: 70%
Location: Venezuela
Rating: A

Today I have the pleasure of tasting Domori's Chuao dark chocolate bar. Legend has it that the cocoa from the Chuao region was once reserved solely for kings. It's not hard to see why. Domori's Chuao bar looks to be an equal mix of clay-red and light brown in color. The nose has rich chocolate aromas with honey and caramel.

On the palate the initial impression is deep chocolate with strawberry jam. There are highlights of almond aromatics here. Along with the strawberry jam, a fruit note of gooseberries is here as well. Complex sweet notes of honey and caramel are notable, along with coffee, mint and a faint butterscotch note. Chewing the Domori Chuao brings forward notes of almond extract, raspberries, pomegranate and caramel. The bar melts with a superb thick, coating mouthfeel. The finish has butterscotch, caramel and jammy notes all fading in harmony.

Domori has once again impressed me with their take on the legendary Chuao cacao. The end result is wonderfully complex, but unmistakably Domori. The finish and complex caramel and honey undertones are reminiscent of a milk chocolate, while the jamminess is signature Domori. This is great stuff and well worth searching out if you don't have easy access to it in your local area.

Republica Del Cacao El Oro 67% Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Republica Del Cacao
Cocoa Content: 67%
Location: Ecuador
Rating: B+

On deck today is another chocolate from Ecuadorean bean-to-bar chocolate maker Republica del Cacao. The El Oro is a deep mahogany-red in color. The nose has hazelnut/walnut notes along with floral (jasmine) notes.

On the palate I first pick up orange juice flavors. Next come mint and sweet woody spice of cinnamon. The sweet spice turns to cardamom which becomes a full-blown floral/perfume note. The acidity level is on the mild side with some banana showing through. Chewing the El Oro brings forward notes of cardamom, cookie dough and blueberries. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and just slightly course. The finish has sweet notes and floral aromatics. Nuttiness creeps in as the floral notes fade.

Republica del Cacao has quite a unique chocolate here in the El Oro. It is a bit too much on the floral side for my tastes, but this is a true showcase of someplace unexpected that you can take a dark chocolate. Well worth a try.

Ikea Choklad Mörk

Manufacturer: Ikea Foods
Cocoa Content: 60%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B

During a recent trip to Ikea, I saw their private label dark chocolate bar by the register and had to give it a try. The bar is labeled as minimum 60% cocoa and is made in Germany for Ikea Food. The bar itself is dark purplish-brown, near ebony in color. The nose detects sweet cocoa with some walnuts.

The main flavor impression on the palate is a roasted, nutty chocolate note. There are sweet notes of caramel and a liqueur note that reminds me a bit of Kahlua. Other sweet notes are sweetened french toast and cinnamon. Coffee and walnut flavors are here as well. Chewing the Choklad Mörk opens up flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and walnuts. The melt is smooth and thick, but I did notice a few crunchy crystals. The finish is fairly long and has lingering roast notes with sweetness and caramel.

Ikea's Choklad Mörk is a decent dark chocolate for a private label. At 60% cacao, it did seem a bit sweet to me. I found that some flavor is buried behind the sweetness. The roast on this bar was very nice. I think on the lower percentage chocolates the roast component really plays well with the extra sweetness. While this isn't the most complex chocolate, the Choklad Mörk is worth a taste next time you find yourself in Ikea.

Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Godiva
Rating: D

Today we are tasting a chocolate that is a bit more accessible than most of the others we typically review here on The Dark Chocolate Blog. Today we have the Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate bar. This is the 1.5 ounce bar you typically find at the cash register in book stores and the like. There is no cocoa percentage listed on the package. The bar itself has four rather thick squares embossed with a "G", and is nicely textured with crisp embossing. The bar is a deep mahogany/rosewood color. The snap is notably soft, especially for such a thick bar. The nose has a distinct coconut aroma.

On the palate there is a dominant, very sweet coconut flavor that really buries the chocolate flavor on this bar. There are some notes of chocolate milk and caramel, and loads of sweetness. Chewing the Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate hints at nuts and cedar before another big wave of coconut rolls in. The finish is overly sweet with notes of coconut milk and caramel.

I’ve had several good chocolates from Godiva before, so I was surprised at just how bad this chocolate was. The Solid Dark Chocolate bar was sickly sweet with overpowering coconut flavors, and not much chocolate flavor to speak of. Stay away from this one.