For my first review, I've gone for this little sweetheart - the "Thank You" bar from Zotter's "Mitzi Blue" range. I found it in the One World Shop here in Edinburgh, so as you'd expect it has good ethical credentials and I was curious to find out more.
It's described as a bar of "smooth milk chocolate with cashews". Let's dig in.
Type: 36% cocoa content milk chocolate with cashew nuts
Ingredients: raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, full cream milk powder (18%), cocoa mass, cashews (10%), whole cane sugar, vanilla, salt.
Made in: Austria
Cocoa origin: Unknown, blended.
Notes: Fairtrade certifed, organic
Price: 2.50 for 50g
The packaging for this bar is a little out of the ordinary, with its decidedly contemporary sunflower yellow and terracotta card folded around the chocolate. The pretty package is made of eco-friendly card, is carbon neutral and printed with food colouring. I'm struck by the impression that this producer takes its ethics seriously.
On opening the package, I was presented with the cellophane-wrapped bar itself. On the inside of the card, there's an explanation of Zotter's "bean to bar" production ethic, and the story of how the Mitzi Blue line came to be named (after a vintage car, if you were wondering).
Rather cutely, the packaging has a little rectangular window in it with "preview" written by it, so that you can see what you're buying.
I'm not sure whether to refer to this product as a bar, as it's rather unusually circular in shape! It's split into segments in an almost feather-like pattern. The words "Mitzi Blue" are indented on alternate segments, with concentric arcs moulded into others. The warm, fairly deep brown chocolate has a little gloss to it, and is smooth-looking but with a speckled visual effect due to the embedded cashew pieces.
Very pretty, and certainly memorable.
Inhaling the scent of the circle of chocolate, the general impression is rich, milky, sweet. It seemed to have slightly citrus overtones to me, but my partner didn't recognise them. As you'd expect, there's a slightly nutty smell to the chocolate, but I only detected very mild cocoa notes.
As I broke into the bar, I was delighted to find it has an unexpected light snap, but that might be due to the cashew nibs in there rather than good tempering, and it's certainly not down to a high percentage of cocoa! The round broke cleanly down the central split.
As I placed a piece on my tongue, it initially didn't really taste of much. As it started to melt, my tastebuds were met by a taste of fresh cashew nuts, followed by a sweetness that spread over my tongue and down my throat. Light, milky cocoa flavours followed, but nothing hugely chocolatey. The hint of salt in the background is good - not overwhelming, but just enough to offset the rich sweetness of the bar.
Texturally this is good - creamy chocolate that melts readily, liberally dotted with small pieces of cashew and another crunch, which I suspect is the whole cane sugar in the ingredients list.
Of note is the fact that not only is sugar the principal item on the ingredient list, but that there's additional sugar in the list (of the whole cane variety) too. I presume the high quantity of sugar is needed to offset the bitterness caused by a relatively high cocoa butter to cocoa mass ratio. This lends a lovely, decadent creaminess to the chocolate, but diminishes the cocoa tones a little - I'm only really getting a sense of the bean itself in the final melting moments of each piece.
All in all, a bar I'd eat again if in the mood for milky sweet chocolate, but not something I'd actually seek out. Interesting enough, however, that I'll look out for more Zotter Mitzi Blue offerings, and explore their potential.
A light, easy-eating creamy milk chocolate for those with a very sweet tooth. Worth trying, but not quite my "thing". As an overall score, including all aspects such as packaging and ethics as well as texture and taste, I'd award a 7/10.
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Hi, I'm Gill! For a long time I've been stuck with the nickname "Gillybean" or "Beanie", which fits because I'm really very fond indeed of anything made with beans. Cocoa beans, I mean. In order to justify my expenditure on all things chocolate, I thought I'd share some of my adventures with the internet in the form of this blog - Chocolate Bean!
As well as reviewing chocolate itself, I hope this will expand into discussions of chocolate shops, chocolatiers, cafes and anything else that might interest those passionate about the subject. In part, I'm guessing this will turn into an indulgence for those who want to read about and vicariously savour various chocolates, hopefully inspiring someone to go out and seek their own adventures in cocoa.
So, without further ado...on with the reviews!