Friday, April 28, 2006

Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares

I picked these up last December and have been munching on them.


There are some things that I really like about Scharffen Berger chocolate, but few of them have to do with taste. I like the idea of them. I like their design aesthetic, I like their vibe, I like their factory. I, unfortunately, don’t care much for their chocolate. Of course there are exceptions, such as the Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs, it just goes to show, you can’t judge all products by their brand.

Try as I might, I just can’t like their plain chocolates.

Extra Dark 82% Cacao - yes, it’s very dark lookin’ stuff. Lustrous and glossy, it has a nice snap and a strongly chocolatey smell. The immediate burst on the tongue is an astringency that just sucks you dry. There are some anise notes and even some basil all laced with an unpleasant bitterness. The chocolate itself is smooth but very sour. It’s great for making sauces though and this is the stuff I used at Thanksgiving for making a hard sauce for pecan pie.

Mint 62% Cacao - really, really minty. No, seriously ... you’ll take a bite and look at it the little bar and wonder why it even resembles chocolate. Kind of sweet, there’s a strange smoky quality to it that doesn’t really go with the mint.

Semisweet - after tasting the Extra Dark, this was more than semisweet, it was very sweet. It’s got a very strong woodsy base to it that reminds me of cedar. It’s slightly grainy, like the sugar isn’t completely emulsified with the chocolate or something. There is only the slightest indication of the acidity and astringency of the darker chocolate but it does have a hint of black pepper that I find very nice. Still, the mix of sweet, butter and chocolate flavors just isn’t right for my palate.

Milk Chocolate 41% - again with the tartness. Even the creamy dairy notes are missing, it’s smooth but it’s missing the fullness of flavor. There are lots of flavors at work here, but none of them particularly chocolatey.

Mocha - the coffee notes here are well rounded and feel much more honest than most coffee chocolates that I’ve tried. But it’s not as smooth and has both the acidity of the chocolate and the coffee that just combines in a way that in a way is tasty, but keeps me from eating a lot. But really, why would I want to keep buying a chocolate just because I don’t want to eat it that much?

I know I send some pretty mixed messages when it comes to Scharffen Berger. I raved about the Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs, but I don’t like the chocolate that they make them into. I can’t explain it, so I’ll just let it be what it is.

Name: Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Scharffen Berger
Place Purchased: Scharffen Berger Factory Store
Price: $.50
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Mint, United States, Scharffen Berger

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:02 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. In your picture, they look like matchbooks.  Tasty, tasty matchbooks.

    Comment by Marvo on 4/28/06 at 6:31 pm #
  2. I use this chocolate for baking and it is quite good. I write a food blog if you have a chance please visit at

    Comment by Tami on 4/28/06 at 8:09 pm #
  3. I also find their plain chocolate on the “sour” side. I don’t care for it that much, especially for the price they charge. But, like you I LOVE the chocolate covered cacao nibs.

    I’m going to Las Vegas in mid June. After reading your NYC chocolate write-ups, I cannot wait to go to Vosges. The only thing I have tasted of theirs is the Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Ancho and Chipotle Chile Bar and it has become the thing I am telling everyone to go try.

    Comment by Anthony on 4/29/06 at 3:59 pm #
  4. Have you tried the Nibby Bar? It doesn’t come in a square. It is my favorite of their chocolates. I also prefer their 70% bittersweet over the 62% semisweet.

    Comment by Carol on 5/03/06 at 12:23 pm #
  5. I agree about Scharffen Berger.  Great idea, but it tastes too harsh.  Anise is a good way to describe it.  It also tastes smoky too.  But maybe I’ll try their chocolate-covered cocoa nibs.  Have you tried their unsweetened chocolate?  I heard that it’s the only unsweetened that’s “mild” enough to be eaten plain.  Maybe I’ll go to Whole Food and ask for a sample, since they have a free-samples-for-everything policy.

    Comment by Jessica "Su Good Eats" on 5/06/06 at 5:19 pm #
  6. Cybele's avatar

    Anthony - I was so impressed with Vosges’ store that I’m planning to visit the one in Chicago next month too. I can’t wait for an LA one.

    Marvo - matches! that’s what they taste like! Actually, I really like the design aesthetic that Scharffen Berger has, which makes it all the harder to give them a bad review.

    Tami - I’ve got you on my RSS reader now!

    Carol - Actually, I haven’t tried their nibby bar ... but I think I’m going to stick with the chocolate covered cacao nibs, the ratio is really good.

    Jessica - I did try their unsweetened bar when I did the factory tour last December. It had all the same qualities without the moderation of sugar to bring it together. I could see using it for a sauce (I do a good hard sauce with butter and cognac and chocolate which is great for pecan pie) for something really sweet. I’m not sure I believe that it’s “eating” chocolate though.

    Comment by Cybele on 5/08/06 at 6:28 am #
  7. I am munching on a nibby bar now. It’s small, only an ounce… and I can a bit of the acid flavor, like I did with their plain nibs… but there’s an almost alcoholic flavor here that I like. When I first bite into it, it reminds me a regular dark chocolate bar, smoky like Lindt or something, but at the end it is sweet and alcoholic and I can taste the pure vanilla beans, the taste reminds me of having vanilla extract a bit. Wow I think I’m going to finish this little bar soon!

    Comment by Kai on 2/24/07 at 12:16 pm #
  8. I lucked into a bunch of little gift boxes filled with these “mini” Scharffenbergers a year or two back at TJMaxx—they were so good I went back and bought them out. They appear to normally sell for around 5 dollars (I paid $2 each on clearance) and had maybe a dozen little squares in each. Some were mixed dark and milk; others all one kind. I got a taste for Scharffenberger which previously I was sort of “eh” about and thought was overrated. Actually, it’s very good chocolate. I liked the milk much more than the dark chocolate, which was above average but not as impressive as the milk. I didn’t get any “nibbies”—too bad, I love nibs!
    I put these in the candy dish—dumb move. A kid came over and cleaned out a bunch of these. Very annoying! I’d buy these again if I saw them….
    The big bars are expensive, around $4 but right now they are on sale for 2 for $6 at Whole Foods. And occasionally I have found a dollar off coupon in their Whole Foods coupon book.

    Comment by Laurel962 on 10/26/10 at 5:15 pm #
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