It's hard to go wrong with a gift of chocolate. Make it organic, and you'll not only show the planet a little love, but you'll also give a gift without chemical pesticides and genetically engineered thickeners and preservatives, and that wasn't made with abusive child labor. But there are so many companies selling organic chocolate now, it's hard to know which to pick. We sacrificed an afternoon to taste as many as we could so you know which ones to buy. Somebody had to do it!
How We Chose Them: We selected organic chocolate bars we could find at local natural food stores and larger grocery chains, like Whole Foods, and tested three varieties of each brand: milk chocolate, flavored, and dark. We wound up testing Theo Chocolate, Green & Black's Organic, Equal Exchange Chocolate, Endangered Species Chocolate, and Newman's Own Organics.
About three-dozen willing Rodale employees tasted all five varieties in each category and ranked them according to taste, texture, and aroma. We added up their scores and came up with the following rankings.
All the brands tested very well—after all, it's chocolate! But here were the top scorers:
Milk Chocolate: Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate Bar
Flavored Chocolate: Green & Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate: Theo Chocolate Organic Dark Chocolate Jane Goodall Bar
Green & Black's
• Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate: This bar ranked first place in the milk chocolate category, with the highest scores for aroma and flavor among the milk chocolates. Testers noted the chocolate's hint of fruitiness and called it smooth and creamy.
• Green & Black's Dark Chocolate Mint: The best of our flavored category, the Dark Chocolate Mint bars received the highest scores for aroma and texture, which our testers described as "velvety" and "very smooth." If you're not a mint fan, the company's other flavor selections include Espresso, Toffee, Black Cherry, Hazelnut & Currant, and spicy Maya Gold.
• Green & Black's 70% Dark: Ranking a very close second in the dark chocolate category, tasters called it nutty, "velvety until the end," and said it melted quickly in the mouth. Try it!
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• Theo Organic Creamy Milk Chocolate: Tying for second in milk chocolate's aroma category, some taste testers noted a floral aroma and very sweet berry undertones. Two testers even described flavor hints of mushroom and olive! Try it!
• Theo Organic Toasted Coconut: Taste testers detected the coconut in this flavored bar, with some noting spicy and sweet undertones and a grainy texture. One of the best things about Theo, though, is their willingness to branch out with unusual flavors, such as Fig, Fennel & Almond and Chai Tea, and limited-edition flavors like Ginger Rose, Cherry Pink Peppercorn and Ghost Chile! Try Toasted Coconut!
• Theo Jane Goodall Organic 70% Dark Chocolate: Ranked first overall in the dark chocolate category, this bar received the highest dark chocolate flavor marks, along with accolades for aroma and texture. The best part? It's part of Theo's partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute to conserve wildlife habitats and educate both farmers and the public about the benefits of conservation. Proceeds from the bar go towards the Institute's efforts to protect chimpanzees.
• Equal Exchange Organic Milk Chocolate with a Hint of Hazelnut: This one scored high for its aroma and texture. One tester noted its "nutty, woodsy, very smooth" attributes. Try it!
• Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt: This sweet-and-salty bar came in just behind Green & Black's Mint for top flavored chocolate. Our tasters gave it high marks for flavor and really liked the chocolate's buttery toffee flavor and crunchiness, with one saying it's a "good balance of sweet and tart, plus crunch."
• Equal Exchange Organic 71% Very Dark Chocolate: With a bit more cacao than most dark chocolates, this bar got props for raisin, citrus, and floral notes and a nutty aroma. Its bitterness was more pronounced and one person liked the extra roasted flavor. If you're a fan of very dark chocolate, try the company's organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate with single origin 80% cacao content.
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Endangered Species Chocolate
• Endangered Species Organic Milk Chocolate: Ranked second overall in the milk chocolate category, this bar received high marks for texture; testers described this chocolate as sweet, smooth, and very creamy, with a warm flavor. Try it!
• Endangered Species Organic Dark Chocolate & Cherry: While this flavored chocolate didn't take home the top spot in its category, several testers noted its fruity, earthy, woodsy, and bitter qualities. Try it!
• Endangered Species Organic 70% Dark Chocolate: Tasters noted a slight crunch and smoky, velvety, nutty flavors in this dark chocolate, with one describing the texture as grainy. Try it!
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Newman's Own Organics
• Newman's Own Organics Milk Chocolate: This bar received high marks for flavor within the milk chocolate category; testers noted this was a very sweet-tasting chocolate with a waxier texture. Try it!
• Newman's Own Organics Espresso Dark: Testers definitely picked up on the coffee taste in this bar, noting its lingering coffee aftertaste and smooth, sweet, and fruity tones. Try it!
• Newman's Own Organics 70% Super Dark Chocolate:
Tied Theo for first place in dark chocolate texture, with many testers noting its mild, smooth qualities. Comments included "grassy, quick finish," "spicy, nutty," and "creamy to the last bit." Try it!
Throwing a chocolate tasting is fun! If you're interested in learning more about hosting a tasting, or even if you just want to pay closer attention to the flavors you experience when eating chocolate, check out these chocolate-tasting tips and this helpful flavor notes wheel.
Published on: February 8, 2011