Luckily, the dark chocolate bars in our shipment faired much better than their Ricemilk Choco™ cousins, also from Terra Nostra. While the heat in shipping did take its toll on these high quality bars, their denser cocoa structure prevented them from melting beyond a light softening. In fact, even the small indented writing on each scored piece could still be read. This was a good sign that the flavor and texture would not be sacrificed.
My box concealed four large organic dark chocolate bars, one of each flavor from Terra Nostra. I felt as if I was in a little dark chocolate heaven with so many varieties to choose from! It was almost guaranteed that my husband and I would find one that matched our taste buds perfectly. Of course, I was immediately impressed with the generous sizing. Each bar weighed in at 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and was perfectly scored into chunks for some easy and [almost]guilt-free sampling.
I reached first for the Double Dark™ Truffle bar (60% Cacao), and broke off a square for each of us. I noticed that I had not yet hit the jackpot with my husband, as he proclaimed, “It tastes kind of like hot chocolate." Granted, this is by no means a bad statement, but I could tell by the tone in his voice that it was more of a surprise comment than one of sheer delight. I could see his point somewhat. The bar had a deep dark chocolate taste, but it was tempered by that "malted" flare, which I had tasted within their Ricemilk Choco™ line. It was a unique flavor that I quite enjoyed, but it didn’t spark excitement with my husband. The malt occasionally stepped aside to make room for some sharpness, as the chocolate hit some dark high notes, followed by a bitter contrast, which once again rounded out with the malted notes. Overall, it was a good reliable dark chocolate, but we decided to continue our search for the perfect dark chocolate bar.
Moving onto the Intense Dark (73% Cacao), I had a feeling that this bar would provide more pleasure for my husband’s newly refined dark chocolate taste buds. I must admit, it was a unique dark from your common 70% variety. As it settled on my tongue, I waited patiently for flavor. Quite flat to start, my taste buds became eager with anticipation, wondering if the chocolate would ever emerge. With a calm ease, a chalky cacao taste finally gave way with more bitter than sweet. I hesitate to call the flavor bold, robust, or rounded. It was more for the true cacao fan who could appreciate the subtle nuances of this pure dark chocolate, chased with only a hint of sugar. Intense? In a way, but not by the American definition of flavor-packed. More it seems to refer to the sheer focus this bar has on one specific flavor. A bitter dark flavor lingered on after my final bite, leaving me to realize that I am not yet a connoisseur of the true dark bar. This one was definitely more appreciated by my husband.
Now yearning for some adventure, I tore into the Robust Dark™ Roasted Almonds bar (60%). Back down to a cacao to sugar ratio that I seemed to be very comfortable with, this was a bar that I truly enjoyed. It entered with a smooth milk chocolate feel, only hinting at its dark chocolate nature. With dramatic contrast to the Intense Dark bar we had trialed just moments before, this chocolate appeared to have virtually no bitterness. Of course, my taste buds could have been fooled by the quick contrast, but this Robust Dark bar was definitely a much more mellow option. Small, but healthy chunks of almonds added interest to the texture and flavor, creating a nice crunch with just a bit of that natural almond flavor. As I uncontrollably continued onto my next square, some hints of that true dark chocolate bitterness did appear, but really, it was a smooth and mellow chocolate overall, with minimal contrast. Pleasant.
Failing to read the label before I tore into the final bar, I was surprised when it didn't easily break apart. Sticking rather than snapping, I finally wised up, and read the label to solve the mystery, raisins! This Robust Dark w/ Raisins & Pecans (60%) obviously lived up to its title. Though scored, sharing can be difficult with this bar, as it doesn't break neatly into the little implied pieces. Rather it chunks off where the nearest gap between nuts and fruit emerges. Granted, I wasn’t really complaining about the ‘no sharing’ part, especially after I took my first bite.
While I have never had chocolate covered raisins, as a kid I was addicted to the yogurt-covered ones. Hording them by the jumbo bulk bag full, I would allow myself to savor just 10 or 20 a day to ensure my long-saved-for supply did not run out. Sudden memories of those treats emerged the second I bit into this bar. The sweet raisins made this feel more like a candy bar indulgence than a "robust" dark chocolate bar. The small pecan chunks seemed to be an afterthought, adding texture and a light flavor influence, yet overshadowed by their sweet raisin neighbors and chocolate enclosure. Realistically, this bar was so packed with raisins and nut bits, that I didn't get the chance to admire the pure robust chocolate. The entire bar unified for a tasty and sweet treat, leaving the chocolate to mirror a good semi-sweet. Unique, yet tasty, I could easily horde this bar, though I may not show the self-restraint that I did as a ten-year old child!
My Extra Notes & Tips:
- In pure Terra Nostra fashion, these bars are organic and all natural. They are also free of any soy or gluten ingredients. Unlike many manufacturers, Terra Nostra does not use soy lecithin.
- Terra Nostra does ship year round, with only express delivery in the summer. Nonetheless, I highly recommend that you time your chocolate shipments around any heat spells
Where to Purchase: You can buy any product from the Terra Nostra line, directly from the Terra Nostra Chocolate website. Of course, they are making chocolate as fast as possible to distribute throughout the U.S. and Canada. See their store locator for a North American shop near you.