Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scharffen Berger 82% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Scharffen Berger
Cocoa Content: 82%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

Today I'm reviewing the third and final dark chocolate from Scharffen Berger, their 82% Cacao Extra Dark chocolate bar. For those of you who who aren't experienced with dark chocolate with very high cocoa content, one thing to keep in mind is that small differences in cocoa percentages make a bigger difference in flavor (and bitterness) the higher you go. For example, a 70% cocoa chocolate is roughly 30% sugar, but an 82% cocoa chocolate is only 18% sugar. That's almost half the sugar content of the 70% chocolate.

The Extra Dark bar has a very firm, crisp snap to it. It is deep mahogany brown in color, with noticeable redness especially along the snap line. The chocolate has bitter espresso and lemony acidity as it's dominant flavors. The acidity is nearly strong enough to drown out the bitterness, despite the high cocoa percentage. Chewing the chocolate releases honey and peaty notes. There is a smooth mouthfeel that is slightly astringent. The finish of the Scharffen Berger Extra Dark is fairly long. It takes a while for the tartness to fade, but then salt and earthy notes make their appearance over the long black coffee finish.

Normally with a lower cocoa percentage the sweetness provided by the sugar content helps balance out the bitterness of a dark chocolate. Once you start to hit the higher cocoa percentages sugar alone is not enough to keep the bitterness of the cocoa in check. The Scharffen Berger 82% Chocolate bar takes the right approach when it comes to balancing the bitterness of a high cocoa percentage chocolate by using acidity as a counterpoint. Unfortunately, it seems like the balance point was overshot a bit here and the scales are tipped in favor of the tartness. There is a lot of good flavor here, but a bit of it is washed out by the amount of acidity.

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