Dark chocolate – plain

Last updated 16th September 2015

  • Asda Extra Special Ivory Coast Dark Chocolate 70%: Quite a standard cheap dark chocolate bar; the cocoa and sugar flavours don’t quite mesh together, so that you are hit with sweetness and then the bitterness comes in and stays long after you’ve finished it. Fairly chalky and a bit cloying. Surprisingly fruity taste though!
  • Butlers 70% Dark Chocolate Bar: Not the most elegant-looking of bars, and not overly refined-tasting compared to what I had expected. Smooth texture, almost slightly chewy, with a soft taste and no bitterness, but perhaps lacking a little robustness and depth.
  • Cocoa Loco Mini Dark Easter Eggs: 12 little 70% cocoa chocolate eggs encased in a little plastic case – very cute and the best bit is that they are solid chocolate (and fairtrade)! The chocolate is alright – quite sweet with a slightly powdery taste, getting quite pasty as they melt – but they are very fun!
  • Divine 70% Dark Chocolate: Very similar to Green & Black’s from what I remember, though I have never tasted the two alongside each other. Smooth and subtle and creamy, and a slightly thicker bar which is strangely satisfying.
  • Divine 85% Dark Chocolate: Again, I haven’t tried them side-by-side but I think the Green & Black’s 85% is better. Bar is about the same thickness, both are quite smooth and creamy, but this Divine bar just doesn’t have quite the same rounded mellow taste as the Green & Blacks bar. I do prefer the packaging though…
  • Galler Noir Intense 70%: Melt-in-your-mouth silky chocolate. No frills or quirks, but quality ingredients providing a refined, sweet chocolate hit.
  • Galler Noir Profond 85%: Truly excellent, well-tempered with a good snap, melts smoothly without any bitterness, just a touch of astringency to the aftertaste. Rich notes of coconut.
  • Godiva 85% Extra Dark Santo Domingo: As above, I really couldn’t imagine the price tag would be justified, but I was blown away from the first bite. For the first time in a long time, the world slowed a little as I enjoyed this bold chocolate. Distinctly fruity, it’s not bitter but definitely one for confirmed chocolate fiends – which might be why I can’t seem to find it on any of the Godiva websites!
  • Green & Black’s Dark 85%: Very much on par with Divine chocolate, and definitely worth paying more for – rich, creamy, smooth, and I like that the bar is a little thicker than other dark chocolates, I just find it makes it more satisfying. Truly incredible, and I jump at the chance to buy them whenever they’re on offer.
  • Green & Black’s Dark 70%: Sweeter, but the 85% is so creamy and smooth you don’t miss the sweetness. A very good chocolate but doesn’t stand out from the crowd as much, in my opinion.
  • Hotel Chocolat 85% Dark Chocolate Batons: A lovely smooth, rich dark chocolate. While it has none of the distinctive character of the Purist bars below (which really do deserve their name) it is undoubtedly one of the best 85% dark chocolates I have had – and as you can tell from this list, that is saying something!
  • Hotel Chocolat Chilli 70% Dark Selector Slab:  A lovely smooth warm chocolate followed by a strangely comfortingly warm chilli kick – like a big hug from someone really big and strong who doesn’t normally hug you. This was my first experience of chilli chocolate, and the one that taught me that the chilli side of things matures with time once left open. So there’s an excuse to eat the whole thing in one go if you don’t like too much heat.
  • Hotel Chocolat Orange 70% Dark Selector Slab: Like all Hotel Chocolat’s chocolate, this is an effortlessly smooth, rich dark chocolate perfectly combined with juicy but equally bold orange. A very mature-tasting chocolate, in the “grown up” sense rather than the culinary “aged” sense, oddly enough.
  • Hotel Chocolat Purist Bar – 70% Dark – Chuao, Venezuela:  Never thought I would speak like this about chocolate but this one was distinctly smooth, rounded, mellow and fruity. Not overly sweet like commercial 70% chocolates, but just full of flavour, like you could taste the sun warming the cocoa beans in Latin America. Yep, I just wrote that.
  • Hotel Chocolat Purist Bar – 85% Dark – Hacienda iara, Equador: Wow, stay away from this one if you are not a committed dark chocolate lover. A bite of this gave a whole new meaning to the word “intense”. Smoky, woodsy, and bold, with the power of coffee but none of the bitterness. A really surprising experience which I think I can say has totally changed how I will ever eat chocolate from now on.
  • La Royannette Pure Origine Ghana 70%: Surprised to have been hit by pure sweetness on first bite, and not met with much silky melting sensations. The cocoa depth only really rears its head in the aftertaste, but also leaves more bitterness than I would expect from a 70%.
  • La Royannette Pure Origine Papouasie 70%: The first flavour I got was smoke! This is a real smokey chocolate, but the sweetness and cocoa flavours are slightly more rounded and meshed together than its Ghanaian counterpart. A very strange experience, not necessarily a chocolate I would pick up again.
  • Leonidas Dark 70%: As I had suspected from the packaging, immediately a very pasty cheap-tasting bar with a sticky mouthfeel. Very sweet without much depth to the cocoa.
  • Lindt Excellence Dark 85%: One of my least favourite chocolates. The bar is wafer-thin, and the chocolate is quite astringent. Inedible if not on the warm side of room temperature.
  • Madécasse 80% Cocoa Dark Chocolate: Wow. So take everything I said about the Hotel Chocolat 70% Purist Bar from Venezuela, above, and multiply it several times over, and you’ll get an idea of what goes on when you bite into this. Tangy and fruity, but also rich and powerful, this is a whole explosion of flavours. Definitely not one for a casual sweet craving, but the sort of bar you should really keep available at all times for when you really need an aggressive hit of chocolate. Plus, they sound like a really ethical company, and their packaging is beautiful!
  • Marks & Spencer Dark 72%: Surprisingly fruity, with the depth of cocoa building at the bar melts. Texture is great, melts smoothly without leaving your mouth coated in paste.
  • Marks & Spencer Dark 84%: Strangely, not much richer or more bitter than its less cocoa-rich counterpart. Still distinctively fruity with a smooth and light texture, with the richness and coffee flavours building gradually. Surprisingly good!
  • Michel Cluizel Grand Noir 85%: A good quality, robust chocolate bar. No flavour hits you immediately ahead of any other; the mellow rich flavours are all well-rounded and come together as the chocolate melts super smoothly in your mouth. A sophisticated experience.
  • Montezuma’s Dark 54% Giant Buttons: I am shocked that something with such low cocoa content can taste so richly chocolatey! I have had 70%+ chocolates that have tasted more of sugar and less of cocoa than these. Without being bitter or overly pungent or complex, these taste like a cup of velvety cocoa, and melt smoothly in your mouth. So impressed!
  • Montezuma’s Peru Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa: I think Montezuma’s are a great company, who make vegan truffles and mark their chocolates as vegan, and I love their branding and packaging, so it’s even better when their chocolate is delicious. For a bar with no added vanilla, this is impressively smooth and creamy. It really does melt in your mouth and there is no sharpness or bitterness, despite the cocoa taste being so rich and potent. Really does stand out as quite a unique bar.
  • Morrisons The Best Dark Chocolate 72%: I can’t find an online link to this chocolate which is odd. It is decent, slightly pasty à la Dairy Milk, not overly rich and reminds me more of a cheap 50% cocoa chocolate than a 70%, but I do like that it is a thicker, chunkier bar than many of its counterparts. For taste and value for money though, it is no match for other supermarket own brands of chocolate, like Tesco’s own.
  • Prestat Intensely Dark Chocolate (80%): Well I’m a sucker for packaging so this company and I were always going to get on. Luckily their chocolate didn’t disappoint. Nothing particularly special with this bar, but it certainly does nothing wrong. Not a hint of bitterness, a bold yet mellow roasted flavour, just good straight-up dark chocolate!
  • Ryelands Plain Chocolate: At 50% cocoa content, this barely qualifies as a chocolate and more of a chocolate-flavoured sweet. But sometimes that’s what you need. It is very sweet, and due to the high sugar content it is a little pasty. Obviously not quality chocolate, but then it doesn’t pretend to be either.
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Dark Belgium Cooking Chocolate: Completely different story to the one above, I don’t know if it’s just because there was a long time between the two tastings (and this one is 76% cocoa I believe), but it was smooth and rich, not as sweet as some 70-75% chocolates out there, but just sweet enough – really impressed!
  • Seed & Bean Extra Dark: With the blunt sweetness I’d expect from a 50%, and the immediate bitterness I’d expect from a poor quality 80%. I am a fan of Seed & Bean’s flavoured chocolates, so I was quite disappointed by this – but ultimately, it still hits the spot!
  • Tirma 70% Cocoa: This is cheap and it tastes it. Upon first bite it reminded me of a darker version of Cadbury’s chocolate (which I then realised is what Bourneville chocolate is – and indeed, it tastes exactly like it). Very sugary, and very pasty, and leaves a film around your mouth when eaten. Not great, best reserved for when you need sugar rather than cocoa.
  • Valor 70% Dark: Very average chocolate. Nice thick bar, decent cocoa flavour but slightly pasty texture.
  • Valrhona Guanaja 70%: The packaging boasts “Bittersweet and Elegant” and that is the perfect way to describe this chocolate. Melts to almost a liquid texture at the perfect rate to release its perfectly-rounded flavour. Very slightly fruity but with a real depth. Sophisticated stuff.
  • Vanini Dark Chocolate 74% with Cocoa Nibs: An elegant bean-to-bar chocolate made in Italy with Ecuadorian cocoa, the ratio of crumbly nibs to glossy chocolate is perfect. Slightly fruity with a touch of bitterness, this one was perfect with an afternoon coffee.
  • Vivani Fine Dark with 71% Cocoa: Perfectly good, melts smoothly in the mouth with no pastiness. The taste is on the fruity side with no bitterness and not overly rich.
  • Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72% Cocoa: Surprisingly low quality chocolate – a good enough smooth texture, but the flavour splits into layers of sugar and cocoa without any roasty strength or smooth fruitiness. It won’t offend any tastebuds, but it won’t set any alight either. Nice thick bar with generous chunks though!

Total: 40

7 thoughts on “Dark chocolate – plain

  1. kcsrocketship says:

    Really useful list – although I do empathise with you having to try all those different chocolate brands… must have been tough work 😉

    One thing though – I may be wrong but I don’t think Green & Blacks is vegan? It’s made on the same production line as their milk chocolate and I recently read an article in which they state that their dark chocolate ranges “almost certainly” contain traces of milk. They’ve had to remove the vegan logo from the wrappers for this reason.

    Are all the others you mention definitely free from milk traces? I’m newly vegan (three days!) having made the choice for ethical reasons, and am trying to explore alternatives to the things I’m used to buying. I’m used to cooking with dark chocolate so now trying to identify a vegan option.

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on making the switch! And secondly, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It has indeed been a tough few chocolatey years but, you know, someone’s gotta do it 😉
      The Green & Blacks issue has been going on for a few years now; for a while they even had “whole milk powder” listed as an ingredient, but they removed it after explaining that it was only on there for allergen purposes (for people with allergies who don’t take “may contain…” notices seriously) and that milk was not actually included in the recipe.
      From an ethical vegan standpoint, I consider these products to be suitable for vegans. There is a risk that if vegans boycott all of these products, non-vegan companies will never consider providing animal-free products. This would make vegan diets and lifestyles less accessible. There is a lot of debate, though it is generally accepted that products labelled as possibly containing traces of allergens are suitable for vegans. Whichever way you choose to go you may encounter judgement. Just remember that your ethics are your business, and your decisions may change as your circumstances change. I am a very different vegan now to the only I was when I first made the decision six years ago!
      Many of the products on this list may contain traces of milk or other allergens; the only way to guarantee avoiding them would be to seek out all-vegan companies and products bearing the Vegan Society sunflower logo.
      Best of luck on your journey and do get in touch if I can help with anything!

  2. Jane Barry says:

    Cooperative 85% is no longer Ghanaian but a mixture of cocoas of different origins. Not as good, which will help my waistline.

  3. David Nyman says:

    Great list, thank you, Claire.

    I found it searching for a replacement for Green & Black’s 85% cocoa, which I like a lot, but I’ve just learned that G&B is no longer independant – and is owned by Mondelez, which I don’t want to profit from my purchases.

    As well as the attributes you cover, I personally also want to know if the chocolate:

    – manufacturer is one of the ‘good’ guys;
    – is organic; and
    – is Fairtrade.

    Accepting that the first aspect is very subjective, perhaps you might consider at least the last two aspects in future, please?


    • greatveganexpectations says:

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your comments – I completely agree that my focus has now shifted from simply vegan chocolates to ethical vegan chocolates, and that the list as it currently stands would be of little use to me these days.

      At the moment, the list is designed to show how widespread vegan chocolates are and to make veganism (and the eating of vegan treats) more approachable to new vegans or non-vegans buying for vegans, though there are a lot of products on there I no longer buy (or never have, but was given).

      I fully intend to revamp and update the list in a way that makes it clearer, and that more consistently lists attributes from flavour and texture to the ones you list, including manufacturing ethics. Unfortunately, it will be quite a big project that I just can’t justify prioritising at the moment (as you can see, I haven’t even been blogging at all lately!).

      In the meantime, I use the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate list (http://www.foodispower.org/chocolate-list) and the Ethical Consumer product guides (http://www.ethicalconsumer.org).

      I hope that helps!

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