Monday, August 22, 2005

Scharffen Berger

Name: Mocha and Pure Dark Chocolate
Brand: Scharffen Berger
Place Purchased: Trader Joe’s
Price: $1.99
Size: 2 oz
Calories per ounce: 155
Type: Chocolate

I actually had three bars but ate one before I could take its picture (milk chocolate in a saffron yellow wrapper), so pretend there’s a third one in there.

I was excited that Trader Joe’s was carrying these because I was hoping that it meant that they’d be a little less expensive (which they are). Still, I’m not sure I’m on board with this high end chocolate bar movement. Perhaps I’m just looking for a different thing in my chocolate than some other folks.

I think cocoa is great, it’s obviously one of those things that makes chocolate unique, that blend of earthy roasted flavors with those fruity notes that many people compare to wine or coffee. But what makes chocolate so great, for me, is cocoa butter. It’s one of those rare fats that is solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature. It makes it smooth and creamy and portable. Sharffen Berger chocolate bars lack that smooth and lustrous feeling on the tongue.

Scharffen Berger, I think, can be described as sour. There’s a pervasive acidic note in all their chocolates that I’ve tried and I don’t find it pleasant. It does provide a good base (except for the fact that acids are not bases as in alkaline) for the other flavors. In the pure dark chocolate I tasted some fruit notes: grape, apricot and some apple. I also tasted some oaky/woodsy notes and something which reminded me of lichens or wood ear mushrooms.

I know Sharffen Berger has its aficionados, but I don’t count myself among them. The product was definitely consistent and for a high-end chocolate, Trader Joe’s has certainly made it more accessible. I can definitely see this as good cooking chocolate - I wouldn’t hesitate to add some of their cocoa to my chili (yes, I put cocoa in my chili), but for eating it just leaves me, well, unaffected.

Rating - 6 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:37 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewScharffen BergerChocolateCoffee6-TemptingUnited States

  1. i’ve always wondered what i was missing about scharffen berger - with your explanation, now i know! Perhaps you’ve seen this recent story about the Hershey takeover. One hates to see any kind of corporate consolidation…

    Comment by TG on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  2. I had grown away from eating candy bars altogether until I was given a Sharffen Berger milk chocolate bar last year. I actually wasn’t going to eat it at all; then somebody mentioned that it was a pretty good chocolate bar, so I though that I would give it a try. Can you say super-delicious? I do like these bars, I find them quite chocolatey. One bit of warning, eating an entire bar in one sitting can send you into a chocolate induced coma.

    Comment by big lu on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  3. I haven’t tried the milk chocolate, but I think the dark chocolate is too fruity. It also has a bit too much snap for my taste.

    Comment by mariko on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  4. I love Trader Joe’s - I wish they would come to Texas! - but I wonder why they just started getting Scharffen Berger chocolate? Do you suppose they are dumping old product now that Hershey is taking over? Or has TJ’s had these bars all along? I don’t recall seeing them, but I don’t get to shop there on a regular basis. The last time I was there was in July.

    Comment by choco-lover on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  5. Cybele's avatar

    Big Lu - I’d definitely say that folks should give it a try, it’s not for everyone, but I know Sharffen Berger has its fans. People look for different things in their treats, so it’s good that someone caters to each of those niches.

    Choco-lover - I think Trader Joe’s just started carrying them, probably in early June (or at least that’s when they had a huge display heralding their arrival). And here’s the cool thing - the bars are 2 oz, they’re a special packaging just for Trader Joe’s. The other bars available elsewhere are either 1 oz or 3 oz. It’s some sort of special deal they have.

    TG - As far as I understand Hershey’s plan for Sharffen Berger (and Joseph Schmidt) is to roll them both into a holding company called Artisanal Confections and run them just as they have before.

    My guess is that Hershey will use its muscle (and fund for slotting fees) to distribute Scharffen Berger more widely and perhaps make it less expensive by using their buying-power muscle for the raw materials.

    Hershey has a long history of buying other companies - though it rarely rolls them into the “Hershey” brand, as they demonstrated with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Peter Paul, Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers. But only time will tell. Hershey has undergone some huge changes in the past decade, so the old habits may not prove to be true in the future. I hope that things turn out well for all concerned.

    Comment by Cybele on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  6. I have to say that I’ve been seeing SB bars in TJs for quite some time now, but I have to admit that I am not a fan. I find Scharffen Berger to be rather coarse, though it turns out fine in baked goods.
    You are dead on with your affection for cocoa butter, Cybele. I like a fruity note in my chocolate (and TJs has some good single origin bars), but I don’t think that cocoa solid percentage is the only thing that makes good chocolate.
    Next time you’re in Trader Joes, look for the single origin Chocovic bars (usually near the register). All distinctly different, all more interesting than SB.

    Comment by Nic on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  7. chocolate + chilis = love so putting them in a bowl of red is a great idea.

    Comment by Capt. Eucalyptus on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Nic - it’s odd that you mention the chocovic single origins. I tried them about 18 months ago and liked them. I just bought another pair over the weekend and they’re in my queue. Great minds think alike!

    Comment by Cybele on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  9. Cocoa?  Plus Chili?  Pardon moi… >>gagging noises heard<< 

    What’s it add to chili?  Just flavor, I guess? Woodsy flavor?  Sweetens it some? 

    Sounds odd, but then again…I like Swedish Meatballs…^^; Grape jelly and cocktail sauce, yum.

    Comment by Tindy on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  10. cocoa + chile => molé sauce (approximation).

    Cybele, thanks for this review. I, too, recently tried SB from TJ because I’d read raves about SB - but I was not impressed. I also bought the TJ labelled dark chocolate on the same trip and liked it better - it was creamier. Now I know why!

    Comment by Tricia on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
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