Chocolate Review

Chocolate Review – Twenty Squares mint crisp flakes.

Twenty Squares.jpeg

Here is the latest review in my journey to find decent ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Just so you know, what I call ‘Supermarket grade’ is – you guessed it – chocolate like products that can be bought at the supermarket. This is in comparison to when I go to a speciality artisan chocolatier’s place and grab something from them.

And what I mean it ‘being decent’ is a chocolate that tastes great, is good quality and created/ sold ethically. So, yeah, my hunt is long and hard. Not that I really mind being forced to only buy chocolate from a decent, local chocolatier… it is sometimes just nice to be able to grab some while at the supermarket as it’s more convenient… and I’m less likely to spend half my food budget on a couple of hundred grams of artisan heavenly, chocolatey goodness. 😉

And here is a bit of a disclaimer for you all:

 I bought this product with my own money, and it was a random choice from the supermarket shelf. I am not being paid to make this review, nor am I deliberately singling this product or company out. I’m just trying to give an open and honest review on chocolates I am buying and trying in my search for decent ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Please note:  My review today is based solely on Twenty Squares mint crisp flake Chocolate. This is not a review about Twenty Squares themselves or any other products, services or business they may offer.

Brand name: Twenty Squares mint crisp flakes

Certified Organic: does not say on their packaging they are organic and I could not find an online presence for this brand.

Fair trade: does not say on their packaging they are fair trade or Fairtrade certified, and I could not find an online presence for this brand.

Rainforest alliance friendly: This is about the only thing it does say on its packaging, that its cocoa is sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified farms. Just the cocoa mind you, no mention of other ingredients used.

Palm oil free: Although I can’t find a definite answer on the packaging, from the listed ingredients, I’d say yes they are palm oil free.

 Dairy Free: Again, based on the ingredients listed on the packaging, it is not dairy free.

Grain/gluten free: It clearly states on the packaging it is gluten free. However, it doesn’t state what the sugars are made from so it might contain corn or rice as the sweetener, I can’t say for sure that is is grain free too.

Blend or single origin: Does not state anywhere on the packaging it is single or a blend, but from the taste I would say it is a blend.

Contains nuts: The crisp mint flakes I’m reviewing doesn’t list nuts as an ingredient, so I’d say nut free.  Though they have the usual warning it may contain tree nuts.

Any plastic in the packaging: No! Love this fact. The chocolate itself is sheathed in foil and then packaged in card paper that can be recycled.

Net Weight per package: 100g

Owned and made in: the packaging states it is Australian made, and produced by Simply Fine Food Company’. There website doesn’t mention Twenty Squares chocolate at all.

Where I bought it: Klose’s Foodland, Littlehampton.

Website: As states, cannot find an online presence for Twenty Squares chocolate as a website or social media page.

Review:

2 out of 5 stars.

So, I got all excited when I saw this brand of chocolate at my local supermarket. I’d not seen it before and was attracted by the Rainforest Alliance Certified frog shown proudly on the front. It was well priced for what it was too and came in several different flavours. So I snatched my usual favourite – mint – and went from there.

Sadly, it didn’t live up to all the hype of put on it… but I will go into that shortly, for now I want to focus on the positives. Always start with the positives I say!

Okay, so it’s a great recyclable packaging – just foil and paper. Not plastic involved and well on their way to zero waste. A big tick for that.

They proudly state they only use Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa – another big tick from me. However, what about the rest of the ingredients used? Just being good with the cocoa and not being as careful with the rest is a bit of a worry. And, if you’re going to go above and beyond to show that certification, why not go for organic or Fairtrade too? It did make me curious. It’s as if they are marketing themselves on this one good fact and not actually caring where everything else comes from. I am sure this is a misconception on my side… but I might not be the only consumer that gains such an opinion from what little information is given.

And speaking of a lack of information… I could not find an online presence for Twenty Squares chocolate anywhere. And the ‘Simply Fine Food Company’ that the packaging says produces it may have a website, but it’s currently under construction and holds no information… including even admitting Twenty Squares chocolate is theirs. So, yeah, in this day and age I would have thought if you were going to launch a product you would have your online presence sorted out and there to be seen before the item hits the shelves. That could just be me though with my whole ‘thing’ for Internet Communication. 😉

As you can tell from the score I’ve given it, I didn’t really like this chocolate and it’s not just from all the constructive criticism listed above. I also didn’t like the taste. So let’s now get into that side of things.

The initial flavour was good – for a milk chocolate – and you could tell it was a quality cocoa used… but there was, for me, a super sickly sweet after tastes that soon overpowered everything else. The mint, the chocolate, everything! To me, it tasted like one of those refined sugars called ‘raw sugar’ – though really is highly refined. I’m not a fan of refined sugar these days and it really stands out in anything I eat. My whole family said the same thing (without prompting) and it seriously put me off this chocolate completely. The fact it just states in the ingredients it’s ‘sugar’ and not its source does make me wonder too. That and the fact they felt a need to put soy lecithin in it… why?! Yes you’ve put dairy in it, but there is no need to bulk it out with that crud too.

Seriously, I should have paid more attention to the ingredients, when purchasing it, than I did to the frog on the front. As just because you’ve used Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa and then mixed it with poor quality ingredients – it shows, and it makes this chocolate rate really low in my books. Nearly as bad as Cadbury or Nestle – in my personal tastes.

Would I recommend this product to others?

No I wouldn’t. Sorry, but to me, this chocolate helps give Supermarket grade chocolate its bad name. There are far better products available off the shelf and people should buy them and skip this one.

Would I buy this product again?

No I wouldn’t. Just because you’ve gone to the effort to use Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa doesn’t mean you’ve made a good chocolate. Chocolate is made from more than just the cocoa so you need decent ingredients to work with and compliment the cocoa, not drag it down as has happened here.

In summary: Not a chocolate for me. More time, care and attention to the brand, to what they’re trying to produce and what they are trying to be seen as needs to happen before I will go near this chocolate again… if I ever do.

Until next time,

Janis.

Chocolate Review – Alter Eco Dark Mint.

Alter eco mint

Here is this fortnight’s review in my journey to find decent ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate. I’ve not posted one for a few weeks as Christmas and the New Year got in the road. Tradition forced me into artisan chocolates, German chocolates (with or without marzipan) and homemade chocolates. But now we’re back to the reviews of the ‘Supermarket grade’ stuff!

Just so you know, what I call ‘Supermarket grade’ is – you guessed it – chocolate like products that can be bought at the supermarket. This is in comparison to when I go to a speciality artisan chocolatier’s place and grab something from them… or my local German Pantry for some tasty Christmas treats.

And what I mean it ‘being decent’ is a chocolate that tastes great, is good quality and created/ sold ethically. So, yeah, my hunt is long and hard. Not that I really mind being forced to only buy chocolate from a decent, local chocolatier… it is sometimes just nice to be able to grab some while at the supermarket as it’s more convenient… and I’m less likely to spend half my food budget on a couple of hundred grams of artisan heavenly, chocolatey goodness. 😉

And here is a bit of a disclaimer for you all:

I bought this product with my own money, and it was a random choice from the supermarket shelf. I am not being paid to make this review, nor am I deliberately singling this product or company out. I’m just trying to give an open and honest review on chocolates I am buying and trying in my search for decent ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Please note:  My review is based solely on Alter Eco Dark Mint Chocolate. This is not a review about Alter Eco themselves or any other products, services or business they may offer.

Brand name: Alter Eco Dark Mint.

 Certified Organic: USDA certified organic.

 Fair trade: As stated on their websites, they are: “proud partners of Institute of Marketecology (IMO), Fair Trade USA and the Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO), all of our products are Fair Trade Certified through multiple different certifiers.”

 Rainforest alliance friendly: Not that I could gather from the packaging or website, but they do state they are carbon neutral and strive for zero waste. So that’s a start.

 Palm oil free: Although I can’t find a definite answer on the packaging or website, from the listed ingredients, I’d say yes they are palm oil free.

 Dairy Free: Again, based on the ingredients listed on the packaging, it does appear to be dairy free and vegan friendly.

 Grain/gluten free: Again, based on the ingredients listed on the packaging, Alter Eco Dark Mint is grain and gluten free.

 Blend or single origin: The Alter Eco website states it is a single origin from Ecuador.

 Contains nuts: The Dark Mint I’m reviewing doesn’t list nuts as an ingredient, so I’d say nut free.  Though they have the usual warning it is made with equipment that also worked with hazelnuts and almonds.

 Any plastic in the packaging: No! Love this fact. The chocolate itself is sheathed in foil and then packaged in card paper that can be recycled. Part of their zero waste and carbon neutral approach.

 Net Weight per package: 80g

 Owned and made in: The packaging states the chocolate itself is made in Switzerland. But I believe the cacao is processed in Peru.

 Where I bought it: Coles, Bridgewater.

 Website: http://www.alterecofoods.com/

 Review:

 5 out of 5 stars.

I have been a fan of Alter Eco chocolate for a while, but I’d never come across the Dark Mint one before… until now. And, as Mint is my preferred flavour in chocolate (that or marzipan) I am in love!

This chocolate has a fresh, dark and bitter – but not too bitter – taste that I associated with a good quality single origin chocolate. The little bits of crispy mint through-out are just the right balance. They give the flavour of mint, without over-powering the flavour of the chocolate. And it’s a peppermint essence too, not a synthetic peppermint so no nasty chemical after taste.

I have to say this is definitely my favourite ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate so far. As – besides the flavour – the packaging is minimal, plastic free and mostly recyclable.

Oh, and I strongly recommend you visit the Alter Eco website too as they have gone to a great deal of effort to show transparency in what they do. Meaning they show you where the ingredients come from, who grows it, the communities around the farms, Alter Eco’s principles and philosophy and so on. It was such a great read and has really helped make me love them even more. They are indeed a chocolate maker after my own heart and it is fantastic to see they’re doing their best for the farmer, producers and consumers by providing a wholesome, healthy, eco-friendly and ethical product.

Would I recommend this chocolate to others?

Yes I would. It has a fantastic flavour, is made by an amazing company (who have a big heart) and is free of most of the common allergy triggering ingredients. It’s also vegan friendly – no animal products used – and to me that’s an added bonus.

Would I buy this product again?

Oh my goodness yes! Try and stop me! It is going to take a lot to topple this from being my favourite ‘Supermarket grade chocolate’.

In summary: A fantastic product! Great flavour, allergy friendly, environmentally sound packaging and a company that is trying to do the best for everyone by ensuring the farmers are treated fairly for their work and produce, the ingredients used are of the best quality and the waste is minimal. I highly recommend Alter Eco, and not just their Dark Mint. Though I do warn that not all their products will have the same food allergy friendly ingredients… or be vegan.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Chocolate Review – Traidcraft 70% Dark Chocolate.

traidcraft

Here is this fortnight’s review in my journey to find decent ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Just so you know, what I call ‘supermarket grade’ is – you guessed it – chocolate like products that can be bought at the supermarket. This is in comparison to when I go to a speciality artisan chocolatier’s place and grab something from them.

And what I mean it being decent is a chocolate that tastes great, is good quality and created/ sold ethically. So, yeah, my hunt is long and hard. Not that I really mind being forced to only buy chocolate from a decent, local chocolatier… it is sometimes just nice to be able to grab some while at the supermarket as it’s more convenient… and I’m less likely to spend half my food budget on a couple of hundred grams of artisan heavenly, chocolatey goodness. 😉

And here is a bit of a disclaimer for you all:

I bought this product with my own money, and it was a random choice from the supermarket shelf. I am not being paid to make this review, nor am I deliberately singling this product or company out. I’m just trying to give an open and honest review on chocolates I am buying and trying in my search for decent ‘supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Please note:  My review is based solely on Traidcraft’s 70% Dark Chocolate. This is not a review about Traidcraft themselves or any other products, services or business they may offer.

Brand name: Traidcraft

Certified Organic: Yes

 Fair trade: Yes

 Rainforest alliance friendly: Nowhere on packaging or website does it say it is rainforest alliance friendly.

 Palm oil free: Nowhere on the packaging or website does it say it is palm oil free, but it’s definitely not a listed ingredient either.

 Dairy Free: not a listed ingredient, but warns may contain traces of milk.

 Grain/gluten free: From what I can gather from the ingredients list, it is grain and gluten free.

 Blend or single origin: Although not specified, I’m pretty sure it’s a blend as they do state the use cacao grown in various countries.

 Contains nuts: Not the 70% dark chocolate one I tried for this review.

 Any plastic in the packaging: Sadly yes. Although the outer packaging is paper/light cardboard the chocolate is wrapped and sealed in plastic.

 Net Weight per package: 100g

 Owned and made in: Packaging states it is made in Germany, though I gather from the website they originate in the United Kingdom.

 Where I bought it: Klose’s Foodland, Littlehampton.

 Website: http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/

 Review:

2 out of 5 stars.

As you can tell from my score, I wasn’t that impressed with this 70% Dark Chocolate. For me, it really lived up to the low quality one has come to expect from ‘supermarket grade’ chocolate.

Huge hats off to them for being Fairtrade, organic and ‘suitable for vegetarians’ but I found the chocolate lacked depth and lustre and I’m finding I have an almost soapy after taste in my mouth. Never a good feeling, and often the result of choosing a less than great chocolate.

I’m also not a fan of plastic wrapped chocolate for a few reasons. One- it does change the taste of the chocolate. Two – that’s something I now need to add to the landfill of this world rather than recycle or compost.

Another disappointment is there is no mention of rainforest accreditation or any suggestions that they support Fairtrade workers outside of ensuring they buy their cacao from Fairtrade farmers. Other chocolates I have reviewed go that extra mile and actually give back to the community more than just buy stuff from the right place. I’m not saying Traidcraft don’t do more for the Fairtrade cause or the environment… they just don’t mention it anywhere on their packaging or website.

Now, although this review is not about Traidcraft, I do have to say this – chocolate is not the only thing they are making or doing. They seem to be out there to do the very best for people in developing countries and a huge thumbs up for all their efforts. But, sadly, this does mean their focus isn’t really on making a world class, readily available chocolate. And it shows in this product.

Sadly, I can’t see myself buying it again. For the price, and from the same Supermarket, there are far nicer tasting organic, Fairtrade chocolates (who are also appear to be more eco-friendly).

In summary – If you’re a lover of strong, dark and smooth tasting chocolate, leave this one on the shelf and look for that elsewhere.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Chocolate Review – Origin ‘Bolivia’.

originWelcome to a new section of my Reviews! These reviews are where I let my passion for chocolate run free and hopefully inspire you to make better choices when buying that brown stuff sold as chocolate. As, quite honestly, a lot of the stuff sold as chocolate is about as close to being real chocolate as I am to being a supermodel. Yeah, not even close! 🙂

Most of my reviews will be in relation to my life long search or a decent “supermarket grade” chocolate.

Just so you know, what I call “supermarket grade” is – you guessed it – chocolate like products that can be bought at the supermarket. This is in comparison to when I go to a speciality artisan chocolatier’s place and grab something from them.

And what I mean it being decent is a chocolate that tastes great, is good quality and created/ sold ethically. So, yeah, my hunt is long and hard. Not that I really mind being forced to only buy chocolate from a decent, local chocolatier… it is sometimes just nice to be able to grab some while at the supermarket as it’s more convenient… and I’m less likely to spend half my food budget on a couple of hundred grams of artisan heavenly, chocolatey goodness. 😉

So, here we go with my first chocolate review. There will be more! And please feel free to suggest some to me too! Or, if you make your own and sell it in supermarkets – send me some to review. Yeah, I know… like that’s about to happen. I can but try!

Brand name: Origin ‘Bolivia’.

 Certified Organic: Yes, Australian Certified Organic.

 Fair trade: Yes, and their website states they give 2% of their profit back to Fair Trade Australia.

 Rainforest alliance friendly: Yes, and their website states they give 2% of all profits back to the Rain Forest Alliance.

 Palm oil free: Nowhere on their website or packaging does it state they are palm oil free, but from what I can tell I’d say they probably are.

 Dairy Free: Yes, and soy free too!

 Grain/gluten free: Their website states they are gluten free, but from their ingredients list I would up that to being grain free too.

 Blend or single origin: Difficult to say. I, personally, think it tastes like a blend, but I couldn’t tell from what they say on their websites.

 Contains nuts: As far as I can tell, from the ingredients list, it is nut free. But they do include the generic warning that their product may contain traces of nuts.

Any plastic in the packaging: No! And I love their packaging! 100% biodegradable! Absolutely kick arse packaging, wax paper surrounding the chocolate and then popped in a study paper pouch.

Net Weight per package: 100 grams.

Owned and made in: They’re Australian folks!

Where I bought it: Klose’s Foodland, Littlehampton, South Australia.

Website: www. Originchocolate.com.au

Review:

 5 out of 5 stars.

The flavour I tried today is ‘Bolivia’ and so my review is based purely on this one flavour. If I get to try other Origin chocolates, I may add reviews for those different cacao flavours.

I discovered Origin Chocolate today when doing the weekly shop and decided to add it to my search of a decent “supermarket grade” chocolate.  I was not disappointed.

It comes in cute (and 100% biodegradable) packaging so a big tick there. It’s made in Australia; another positive – as I do like my food to be made in the same country I live in. And it was gluten and dairy free – another big bonus. Pretty sure it’s vegan too, and I do like my chocolate to be vegan as it means it’s more traditionally made.

Although it doesn’t say as much on the packaging (but I found out by going to their website), they are Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance supporters too. And good on them for giving some of their profits back!

As to the flavour, you can tell it’s a decent blend of just cacao and a bit of real sugar – no added bits! It has a glorious, creamy texture. Packs a HUGE wallop in the cacao/ chocolate taste and has a nice dark/ bitter undertone without it becoming too over powering and face sucking bitter – like eating a lemon. 😉

Would I recommend this chocolate to others? Yes I would. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste as some are more used to the synthetic crap sold as “milk chocolate” at the supermarket. Plus they’d never see the point in spending the same amount for 100g as they could for a kilo of said chemical rubbish also sold as chocolate. But lovers of REAL chocolate will love this.

Would I buy this chocolate for myself? Yes, oh hell YES! It tastes great, ticked all my “hippy dippy” boxes of being good for the workers, environment, etc. and came in brilliant packaging that meets my zero waste ideals. I really want to try melting some and dipping my local “spray free” strawberries in it. Talk about a heavenly summer delight!

In summary: If you truly care about your chocolate, its origins, how it is grown and harvested – this is the chocolate for you. It’s made in Australia, they’ve taken care and respect of where they’ve sourced their products from and they’ve even thought about the planet when it comes to packaging. Add to this it tastes sooooo good and you’ve got a winner here. Seriously, go out and buy/try some today. Definitely worth a taste.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO