(EN) You are new to the world of fine, specialty chocolate? And you would like to discover it but don’t know where to start? I listed a short selection of bars for you. By no means exhaustive, of course. It is just to give you a direction. Then it’s your call to taste, try new bars, and learn to know what you (dis)like.
If this list isn’t exhaustive, I tried at least to make a broad selection without being too long (notion of long being relative!). I listed them by type (white/milk/dark/very dark and with inclusions) and price (per bar, not per weight, and according to what I paid). I chose bars with different textures (from smooth/silky to gritty), flavours (fruity, nutty, smokey, etc.) and origins. When the origin is not mentioned, it means it is a blend. Disclaimer: such as wine, chocolate may change from one batch to another, because of the changing weather conditions, soil, etc. So you might not find the same flavours. Anyway, your experience will differ from mine. And that is normal!Taste is subjective.
I will keep on updating this list, so keep an eye on it! And please give me your comments, suggestions… Last updated in Dec 2020.
< 5 euros
🍫Zotter, Fine White Chocolate 40%, reduced sugar (AT): Zotter is always a good deal if you want fine chocolate for a cheap price. They have more than 400 bars, both single origin, with inclusions, handscooped! A treasure trove, really. This white bar is creamy, tastes full milk, butter/caramel with butter, vanilla. Sweet enough despite containing only 20% of sugar (40% of cocoa butter and 40% of milk powder), meaning as little sugar as a dark chocolate 80% bar. More info here on Instagram.
🍫Willie’s, El Blanco 36% (UK): A lovely, creamy white bar. Not very sweet, the reason being: 36% cocoa butter + 34% of milk powder = as much added sugar as in a 70% chocolate. More info here.
5 euros or more
🍫Akesson, White Madagascar 43% (MG-FR): NOT your average white bar. Unlearn what you know about white chocolate with this bar. More info here.
< 5 euros
🍫Zotter, Milk, Nicaragua 50% (AT): Again a Zotter bar, very creamy, with caramel/toffee notes, and very dairy, with a long aftertaste.
🍫 Chocolate Makers, 40% milk with sea salt (NL): the Amsterdam-based makers give us a yummy, comforting bar with this milk chocolate made with beans from the Dominican Republic. This bar is creamy and chocolatey, with a tad of salt. Simple and delicious. Nice addendum: these beans were brought over by the sailing ship Tres Hombres with sheer wind power only. More info here.
5 euros or more
🍫Belvie, Dong Nai dark milk, Vietnam 70% (VN): One of the most powerful dark milk I have tasted. Imagine, there is as much cacao in this bar as in a dark chocolate. The difference: the addition of milk powder, which leads to a powerful, very low sugar bar. Creamy, with notes of caramel/toffee, spices, raisins… Available in Belgium.
🍫Bonnat, Morenita, Mexico 65% (or Surabaya, Indonesia 65%) (FR): That is for those of you who like barbecue flavours. It is very creamy on the edge of being oily (texture of all Bonnat bars), notes of butter caramel and a little smokey on the end. The smokey notes are more developed in the Surabaya bar. More info here on IG.
🍫Marou, Ben Tre Coconut Milk, Vietnam 55% (VN): The one that got me into specialty chocolate. Perfect for people with lactose intolerance and vegans. Notes of coconut, citrus, raspberry jam, chocolatey… Love it!
🍫Mike and Becky, Mutwanga, Congo 50% (BE): The one I nibble on. The texture is a little grainy, but it is a full-bodied, powerful chocolate. It reminds me of sablé/shortbread with yellow fruits note, a hint of caramel and chocolatey in the end. Available with nibs on top also. More info here on IG.
🍫Soma Chocolatemaker, Milk Old School, Venezuela 38% (CA): The crumbly one. If you want a decadent, deliciously retro chocolate, go for this bar. You can see the sugar crystals due to the fact that this chocolate wasn’t refined like others (step reducing the size of the particles). Made with highly praised Chuao beans from Venezuela. More infos here on IG.
🍫Zoto, dark milk Honduras Mayan Red or Congo 60% (BE): The Zoto dark milks are fantastic. The Honduras bar is like molten caramel and chocolate spread on a toast. The Congo is so good I keep on not reviewing it. It is just because it disappears so quickly. More info here on IG.
DARK CHOCOLATE (less than 85%)
🍫Chocolatoa, Tanzania 80% (BE): Dont get me wrong, this is a powerful bar, maybe not the first thing to taste if you are used to milk only. But if you are already into dark bars: go for it. Smooth mouthfeel, rich, notes of citrus/grapefruits, lots of red fruits, tastes like a chocolate brownie, with notes of coffee in the end. More info here on IG.
🍫Michel Cluizel, Los Anconès, Dominican Republic 67% (FR): The opposite of the previous one: a good bar to start with. Very smooth mouthfeel, sweet and fruity.
🍫Willie, Chulucanas, Peru 70% (UK): Small square bar, great raisin and plum flavours! He didn’t lie when he wrote it on the packaging. The same bar is available with raisins and nuts as inclusion.
5 euros or more
🍫Ajala, Tanzania 70% (or Dominican Republic 70%) (CZ): A little grittier bar (I mean, slightly abrasive, which is not a defect at all, imo), with interesting fruity notes. More info here.
🍫Chapon, Beni cru sauvage, Bolivie 74% (FR): Warning, this bar is a little bitter. Very smooth/silky texture (French way of crafting chocolate), with nutty and grapefruits notes, and a looong aftertaste. More info here on IG.
🍫Dandelion, Madagascar 70% (or almost any of this brand) (US): Dandelion makes wonder, and you cant really be wrong trying (or offering) one. This bar with notes of strawberries, citrus, figs…
🍫Duffy, Rio Dulce, Guatemala 70% (UK): Honey all the way, with spicy/pepper notes, hints of fruits and little bitterness. I haven’t come across a similar bar yet. More info here on IG.
🍫Fjak, Madagascar 70% (NO): My favourite Madagascar bar. Super silky mouthfeel. You go on a journey with such a bar: waves of cherries, apricot, chocolate, citrus. More info here.
🍫Goodnow Farms chocolate, Esmeraldas, Ecuador 70% (US): Silky mouthfeel for a bar with very fruity berry notes and tastes like chocolate brownie. And it lingers on and on… More info here on IG.
🍫Krak, Kablon Farm, Philippines 70% or Don Moisés, Mexico 70% (NL): The former is my favourite amongst the bar made with these Filipino beans. Notes of caramel, peach/mango, honey, flowers… The latter has dairy, tea, very fruity notes and gentle astringency. More info here and here on IG.
🍫Mi Joya, Cameroon 72% (BE): Not that much specialty chocolate makers use Cameroon beans. This chocolate is very chocolatey, but has also notes of caramel, honey and red fruits.
🍫Nihant, Lajedo do Ouro, Brazil 74% (BE): For those who don’t fear a little bitterness. Very light brown bar, very creamy, fruity, with a nice balance between fruitiness and bitterness. More info here on IG.
🍫Original Beans, Piura Malingas, Peru 75% (NL): My favourite amongst Original Beans’ bars, a very fruity bar, with notes of tropical fruits (ananas, citrus, raspberry), wood and slightly smokey notes. Long aftertaste. More info here on IG.
🍫Palette de Bine, Guatemala 70% (CA): If you can get your hand on it, go! Notes of honey, red currants, mulberries…
🍫 Standout, Madagascar 70% (SE): The fruitiest Madagascar bar I came across. Very silky mouthfeel, full of notes of raspberry jam, melon, citrus, brownie… Bliss. More info here on Facebook.
THE VERY DARK SIDE OF CHOCOLATE (85% and over)
< 5 euros
🍫Taza, Wicked Dark 95% (US): Stone ground, this bar is gritty, and I mean it. You munch it, you don’t let it melt. But it is an interesting bar, with earthy, slightly fruity notes. More info here on IG.
🍫Zotter, Bolivia 90% (AT): Surprisingly accessible, not something you want to spit out because of its acidity (which can happen, you know, with high % bars). Very smooth mouthfeel, fruity and coffee notes. More info here on IG.
5 euros or more
🍫De Taeye, Los Rios, Ecuador 100% (BE): Very smooth, due to the additional cocoa butter, this bar is very accessible, with floral notes.
🍫Omnom, Peru 100% (IS): Made with Gran Nativo beans. I won’t lie, it is a bitter bar. But it has got so much notes of fruits, citrus, nuts, cacao. And a looong persistent chocolatey aftertaste. I really enjoyed it. More info here on IG.
CHOCOLATE WITH INCLUSIONS
< 5 euros
🍫Menakao, Madagascan Vanilla (available with coconut too), Madagascar 45% (MG): The one I can’t stop eating, one of my most comforting bars. When everything crumbles around you: pick this one up. The vanilla is tasty and clearly not overpowering the red fruits, citrusey notes of the chocolate. More info here.
🍫Menakao, Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs and Sea Salt 63% (MG): Another bar made in Madagascar, with crunchiness brought by the nibs, and fruitiness by the beans. Menakao does a good job.
5 euros or more
🍫Akesson, Madagascar Bejofo 75% with Wild Voatsiperifery Pepper (MG-FR): Spicy and fruity, with pepper awaking your taste buds but not too much, with flower notes, balanced with the sweetness of the bar. Enhancing the red fruits, citrusey notes of this Madagascar chocolate. More info here on IG.
🍫Askinosie, Dark chocolate + Red Raspberry 54% (US): A marvel. This bar is packed with raspberry flavours . It reminds me of rapsberry jam with chocolate on top: tangy and sweet. Pity it is so complicated to find it in the EU. More info here on IG.
🍫Dick Taylor, Brown Butter, Nibs and Sea Salt 73% (US): Sooo good. Really. Buttery, crunchy, salty, perfectly silky. More info here.
🍫Hogarth, Buttered Toast & Sea Salt 48% dark milk (NZ): Yet another comforting bar. Dense mouthfeel, rich notes of rye bread, salty taste ticking the buds and at the same time, intensely chocolatey. Pure pleasure. More info here.
🍫Kad Kokoa, Salted Tamarind (TH): A hot bar! First comes the saltiness (and chewiness) of the tamarind, then spiciness builds up, as well as the natural sweetness & sourness of tamarind. The flavours of the thai chocolate join the choir, brownie like flavours and some fruitiness. Spicy aftertaste. Great. More info here.
🍫Naive, Porcini dark milk 62% (EE): With wild porcini gathered in the forest. It can seem weird, but this bar is a go for anyone liking mushrooms. Perfect combo where the flavour of the porcini doesnt overpower the sweetness and taste of the dark milk chocolate. More info here
🍫Pump Street Chocolate, Rye crumb, Milk & Sea Salt, Ecuador 60% (UK): One of my favourite, with the crumbs of rye bread (made at the bakery) added to the chocolate. They have a similar bar with surdough bread. Nutty, little acidity due to the crumbs, and saltiness. Delicious pick me up.