It first started when I was a little girl and has only continued to flourish inside me as an adult. My first exposure to Dark chocolate was out of pure sugar desperation. My great-grandparents always had mini assorted Hersey bars in a little bowl at their house. My great grandmother was an unrepentant choco-holic (as she put it) and her husband was, well just like her so it was a good match. There were 4 different kinds of bars in the assorted mix: Mr. Goodbar, Krackel, Milk chocolate, and Special Dark. Naturally everyone ate the Mr. Goodbar and Krackels first because of the peanuts and puffed rice. This left the plain old milk chocolate and special darks behind. Something is always better than nothing so I ate what was available, kipping in mind that if the bowl was empty it would once again be filled. In the true spirit of the depression era and spoiling little children’s dinner, great-grandma did not believed in empty candy dishes. I like to go to her house and it wasn’t only because we both shared a love for 70’s orange decor. It had a lot to do with the clear box she kept in the fridge that was dedicated to storing all manner of Little Debbie’s snacks. I use to think she kept them around just for the grandkids, but then I grew up and realized she was just sharing her stash.
It went from a small fancy for those Special Dark Hersey bars to a fondness for the dark chocolates in See’s candy boxes we got during the Christmas season. Then in my early college years I had started to forsake the cheap wax filled stuff and started to experiment with the finer dark chocolate items available to me. You know the kind you see rarely see near the cash register. I remember a particular favorite being a raspberry dark chocolate truffle ice cream. It was usually only consumed on a warm California summer’s night after a sweet night ride on my longboard with my good friend.
I must also give credit where it is due. During this phase of my life, my aunt Sue became my own personal chocolate Jedi master or chocolate drug lord (you pick). Every time I saw her she would ask me if I had tried a certain kind of dark chocolate, then before I could answer she would whip out a hunk of chocolate and I would swiftly lap it up. You almost needed a high speed camera to really see that there was chocolate involved in the exchange because it was that fast. Thankfully my parents and siblings also shared this love for only the finest of chocolate and it is often a part of our family get togethers.
Today I am into some pretty hard and freaky-deeky dark chocolates. My optimum cocoa content is somewhere between 72- 88% and I have to admit that I have experimented in 100% cocoa (in the form of cocoa nibs). It’s not for everyone, but I like it, so don’t judge me! Below is a list of some of my recent favorites.
- Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar by Vosges. To those that know me well, the reasons why I was destined to love this bar are pretty clear. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed the first time I tried it because I was hoping for a stronger bacon taste. Despite my slight disappointment, I fully endorse this chocolate bar and Vosges because they specialize in unique flavors. http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/
- Conacado & Lavender Bluebery by Dagoba. Dagoba makes many great flavors but these two are my favorites. Conacado is a dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic. The flavor is slightly earth and more robust than “normal” dark chocolates due to the regional variety and growing conditions of the cocoa beans in the Dominican Republic. The lavender bar is mild and surprisingly pleasant but admittedly more appealing to females. http://www.dagobachocolate.com/
- All-Natural Extreme Dark Chocolate by Endangered Species. Weighing in at 88% cocoa content this mega dark bar has both a strong punch and bite so it is not for the faint of heart. Endangered species makes many flavors that I suggest trying but don’t worry their other flavors are not all this intense. My favorite thing about this brand is that the texture is incredibly smooth and melts well in your mouth, making it very pleasant on the pallet. http://www.chocolatebar.com/
From the Muddy Puddle’s tips on enjoying Dark Chocolate:
- Buy high quality. You may end up buying candy bars ranging between $3-8, but I find when it comes to the high quality stuff, a little goes along way so it will last longer. There are many health benefits to eating dark chocolate, but in order to get any of them you probably should eat healthy high quality brand.
- Minimize chewing and maximize savoring. Just break off a piece of chocolate and let it melt in your mouth as long as possible. It will last longer that way and leave you more satisfied so you end up eating one piece, not the whole bar, in 1-2 minutes.
- Have a stash Dark Chocolate stash in a drawer, box or bag . . . always. I thought I would lose control and a stash wouldn’t last long but I found that when I buy the “good stuff” and make sure I am savoring it when I eat, sometimes I will forget I even have a stash. My chocolate fetishes are constantly fluctuating too. Sometimes I will be on a kick for a month, a week, a day or even just an hour. I say just go with it (as long as you, like great-grandma use some moderation).
- A time and a place. I can enjoy dark chocolate at pretty much anytime or anyplace but here are a few of my favorites. When I was in college dark chocolate and/or one of my roommates was my study buddy of choice. I usually kept some chocolate in my backpack or desk drawer and would bribe myself to complete assignments with pieces of dark chocolate. My favorite time to try a new bar of chocolate is when I am visiting with friends and family. When I am at parties, watching movies or on long drives I like to keep my favorite chocolate bars in my purse or backpack and eat those instead. This prevents me from downing endless mounds of crap, I will regret eating later.