Have you ever noticed how your tastes can change? An obvious example is the morphing of dislikes into likes as one goes from childhood to adulthood, but there are on-going shifts that can occur at any time. When it comes to chocolate, many have discovered they actually like dark varieties after spending decades thinking only milk would do. Dark milk chocolates are often a bridge into the world of chocolate’s deeper complexities. Alter Eco produces a wondrous dark milk bar (46%), with beans grown in the Bolivian Amazon, that is perfect for those of you who are a bit skittish about transitioning from milk’s comfortably familiar territory. The texture is just what you milk chocolate lovers crave: a smooth, creamy experience that immediately melts on your tongue. The flavor is still subtle, but with greater depth.
If you like a mid-range, darker chocolate, they offer two varieties at 61%. One is a perky mint with little crunches of minty crystals, and the other is Quinoa Midnight Crunch. The mint is immensely satisfying without being all about the peppermint, and the Quinoa Crunch, with its smattering of rice-quinoa crisps, is unlike anything else on the market. Both have a dark base that’s extremely balanced in sweetness and complexity.
Moving up the intensity scale, I tried their 73% with roasted nibs and I was immediately in a chocolate reverie. Again, I loved the juxtaposition of textures: smooth, well-conched chocolate and super-crunchy cacao nibs roasted to perfection. Each little nib heightened the chocolate experience on every level, infusing it with an earthier flavor profile and more of those great chocolate chemicals that seem to go directly to the brain in bars in the 70% and higher range.
My last tasting was their 85% bar. This is only for die-hard chocophiles. If you get a big chemical hit from the 73% prepare to be really wowed with the 85%. Hints of soil, dark fruits, minerals, and leather lead up to a slightly dry finish. With only a smidgen of sugar ( 6 grams in a 42 gram portion), 40% of your iron requirement for the day, and 5 grams of fiber, this really is more food than candy.
I enjoyed all five varieties. There are two more in the line I didn’t sample: a bar with almonds and one with orange peel. Both sound tantalizing.
If you love chocolate and your fellow humans, you will be happy to know that Alter Eco’s El Ceibo Cooperative in the Bolivian Amazon helps support 800 small scale farmers on sustainably farmed plantations.
Just as Repunzel turned straw into gold, a Swiss chocolatier turns these beans into chocolate bliss. What’s even more amazing is how hundreds of major health food and grocery stores carry Alter Eco’s high quality bars. Whether you’re in New York or Nebraska, you can easily indulge your sophisticated chocolate cravings.