Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lindt Excellence Bars Feature

This is our final Lindt feature unless our good friends there send us more samples for either Halloween or the Winter Holidays.  This time I want to look at the last of the chocolate bars we got that you can use in baking or cooking or simply eat as a treat on their own.  I shared these five bars with six others and I'll give my own and the collective opinions about each; mind will be full sensory as you expect and the collection view will be more general.  We tried these in order of increasing cocoa content based on what the box said.  All Lindt bars are it has the brand name and six slashes along the lower right hand corner of each square; 4 squares or pieces equals one serving and these were all very easy to separate so you can share fairly or control portions easily.

"Toffee Crunch" is the only milk chocolate bar of this group.  It is made with almonds so if you have a tree nut allergy you'll want to stay away from this.  It is a light brown in color and has a creamy cocoa scent to it.  It is cool in my fingertips and starts to melt after a few seconds.  A bite crunches and demonstrates that the toffee is pieces mixed into the chocolate, the kind of tangy toffee that sticks to my teeth as I chew it. The toffee does not overwhelm the milk chocolate and this is good because so many toffees we have tried here on The Chocolate Cult use chocolate with or on toffee but they are imbalanced so that either the buttery tang of toffee is hidden or the cocoa is shortchanged.  All of my testers liked this one a lot especially the milk chocolate lovers in the group.

"Chili" has the same cocoa percentage as the next bar but I went with spicy before salty just because I thought this order worked best with the fourth bar we'll look at.  The color here is much darker and matches the next two bars we'll look at as well.  There is a hint of chili when I take a whiff but also the darker cocoa.  For some reason this does not melt as quickly in my fingers as the previous bar did.  A bite makes a soft snap but then the chocolate is very smooth and surprisingly creamy.  The light spicy heat build up with each bite but never matches most of the other spicy chocolates we've tried in the past in terms of intensity so this might be a good introductory chili chocolate but won't satisfy the heat lovers out there.  This was the one sample that received universal good and bad reviews at the same time -- great as an introduction to spicy chocolates but really not spicy if you've had such treats before.

"A Touch of Sea Salt" is part of the salted chocolate and caramel craze that began a few years back even though we in the USA are also constantly told we need to cut back on the amount of salt in our diet.  These have an odd little sweet essence to the dark chocolate scent and also the same surprisingly sweet flavor. The salt is there from the beginning of the first bite but it doesn't build up or overwhelm the smooth 47% dark chocolate these are made of.  It is so easy to over do it with salt and this bar has found a good balance between chocolate and salt.  Everyone who tested this liked it a lot, the balance between chocolate and salt was good for all who tried it out.

"Black Currant" should be a nice counter to the chili and salt but it has 2% darker chocolate.  This has almond slivers in it, I'm not sure why, but if you have a tree nut allergy steer clear of this one.  The slivers of almonds are visible as I hope you can see in the photo but the current is also visible though my camera is not nearly the quality required to show you that.  Once the pieces are broken off the only scent is the black currant, nothing else.  Even though this is 49% cocoa mass the main flavor is the sweet, slightly tart black current and then the almonds before the chocolate itself.  The black currant essence lingers the longest as well suggesting to me that in terms of chocolate a darker level might be needed to compete well with the fruit.  The slivers of nuts and the fruit though do add two extra textures to the otherwise very smooth chocolate.  The other testers agreed that the chocolate just didn't stand up very well and only one of them really liked this bar so much that he ate several pieces.

Of course the darkest is the "70% Cocoa" bar that may be pushing some people's comfort level in terms of intensity but I happen to love chocolate in the 65-75% range myself.  I've used the other bars of this type we were sent in recipes in the past so today this is purely about what it is on it's own.  It has a very smooth flavor with just a hint of bitterness yet is rather scentless.  It makes relatively loud snaps for the first 4-5 bites and melts rather slower than I expected in my hands and my mouth.  I think I like this better in recipes frankly.  My fellow testers thought it was basic in terms of dark chocolate but very mellow as well.

There we have it -- five Lindt Excellence Bars.  You can get these bars in many stores or through the Lindt RSVP program and we received these from two different RSVP presenters though they do not seem to be selling or doing shows any more.

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