If I had to choose between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, I would choose milk 10 times out of 10.
And yet here I am, knee-deep in dark chocolate bars trying to figure which one is the best. It's not that I don't like dark chocolate, I'm just often not as fond of the bitterness or overly fruit-forward flavors that some dark chocolates have. I prefer smooth milky chocolate when a craving strikes. My brother, on the other hand, is more known in our family for his preference for snacking cacao and cocoa nibs. He thrives on dark chocolate. My dad lands somewhere between the two of us, and my mom, well, she's not that into chocolate.
After a heated debate on the merit of dark chocolate between my brother and me, we decided it was time to have a taste-off. Much like my previous bake-off competitions (these ginger molasses cookies are still a favorite and don't let anyone tell you pumpkin bread is only for the fall), we came into this chocolate taste-off with some guidelines to crown the ultimate grocery store dark chocolate bar.
Since there was no actual baking involved in this taste-off, we kept things a little more low-key over at the Avasthi household. All chocolates were tasted at room temperature and served with palette cleansers in between. We stuck to only the 70% (ish) chocolate bars that were available in the HEB candy aisle, though yes, I am told the Valhrona Dark Chocolate Bar is well worth the hype, it was unfortunately not readily available.
Because my brother is the dark chocolate connoisseur I asked him what he looked for in ranking these bars:
At the end of our tasting, I actually found myself with a few new additions to my rotation, a few that I will reserve for chopping into chocolate chip cookies, and a few that I will stick to buying the milk chocolate counterparts. So without further ado, here are the results of our dark chocolate taste test!
I am a Green and Black's Milk Chocolate STAN. I live for it and stock up when they go on sale at Whole Foods, so I was hoping for this one to rank higher than it did between the three of us. The flavor was only okay, kind of leaning towards slightly smokey and astringent, according to my brother. The texture was also only okay, and we were hoping for a bit more smoothness as we were eating it. Overall, this one ranked #6 because it was exactly that, only okay. I will continue hyping up the milk chocolate variety though and save this bar for some imminent chocolate chip cookie baking.
#5 Ghiradelli 72% Twilight Delight
I live for the Ghiradelli milk and caramel-filled varieties. Sign me up all day every day. This bar though was just fine. My brother noted that the flavor actually leans smokey, and has an almost licorice note to it. My dad also said it's slightly bitter with just a fruity after taste. My brother did call out that he did not enjoy the aroma of this bar, reminding him of over-roasted coffee. Feel free to DM him to discuss the importance of aroma in chocolate. Again, this bar is nothing to write home about but will find a nice home in some cookie dough.
#4 Chocolove 70% Strong Dark Chocolate
Flavor-wise, this chocolate bar was alright. All three of us agreed that the fruitiness of this bar was just mild enough to be pleasant. However, texture-wise, all three of us had some qualms. The chocolate didn't melt smoothly over our tongues as we ate it. I wouldn't call it quite chalky, but overall we just wanted more textural enjoyment from this bar. I have not tried the milk chocolate counterpart here but will be adding it to the list to compare since I liked the flavor of this one.
#3 Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate
We are Lindt chocolate truffle fans in the Avasthi house, so I was excited to try this bar. The flavor definitely leans towards the milder and sweeter side, which I personally didn't mind as a milk chocolate lover, but my brother called it slightly weaker in flavor than some of the other bars. The texture though was great, nice and smooth with a nice snap to the bar. We did enjoy this bar overall and came back to it for an extra square once or twice.
#2 Tony's Chocolonely 70% Dark Chocolate
I actually hadn't tried any of Tony's chocolate before this, though I have seen it in the aisles of Trader Joe's before. This chocolate had the boldest and fruitiest flavor of all the bars we tried. It was bright in flavor, which my brother really enjoyed. Personally, as a milk chocolate person, would have liked it to be a bit milder, but overall thought the flavor was good for dark chocolate. The texture was smooth which we all liked as well. We do wish the bar was slightly thinner, as the large chunks do make it hard to break off a piece.
This bar won on the packaging.
#1 Perugina 70% Bittersweet Chocolate
Honestly, this bar was the underdog of our group, so all three of us were shocked that we enjoyed this one the most. It was the only bar we ate the entirety of during our tasting. What set this bar apart was the flavor. It's got kind of nutty and coconuty tasting notes while the texture is super rich and creamy. This bar wasn't bitter at all, mild enough to convert any dark chocolate hater, and the perfect bar to reach for when the chocolate craving strikes. I'm shocked that I found a dark chocolate bar that I would actually buy again and that the same one is one that my brother liked as well. Lesson learned, never count out the underdog.
Overall, I think there's something out there for everyone! And I'll even give my brother his "I told you so" moment. Coming into the taste testing, I specifically said, I don't think I'll notice any difference. And to that, he said, "you don't try enough different kinds of chocolates". And he was right. Now that I've tried a few different kinds, I'm able to point to things I liked and disliked about each one that keeps me open to trying new ones to have on hand.
While these are just the selection from the grocery store, I do have some more gourmand and smaller bean to bar choices that I love:
Fossa Chocolate Salted Egg Cereal (my all-time favorite)
What is your must-have on-hand chocolate? Share it with us below.