Last week, we briefly looked at the International Chocolate Awards. A celebration of the finest chocolate in the Americas and Pacific region. The sadness quickly set in when we started working our way down the list to find how we could get our hands on these prized chocolate bars. Most of the winners were very local, micro-batch products. Almost impossible to get your hands on. We wiped our tears and decided to take a look at the chocolate bars we can get our hands on. We visited 5 traditional American supermarkets and came back with 6 dark chocolate bars to put to the test. What is the best dark chocolate bar you can get at your supermarket?
The Competition for Best Dark Chocolate Bar from the Supermarket
We reviewed 6 dark chocolate bars, 2 of which organic. The contestants are Aldi Simply Nature 70% Dark Chocolate, Whole Foods Dark Chocolate, Central Market 71% Organic Dark Chocolate, Aldi Schogetten, Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate, and Lindt 70% Smooth Dark. All testing was done blindfolded.
Aldi Simply Nature Dark Chocolate
A bar of 100 grams of Simply Nature 70% Dark Chocolate will set you back $1.99 at discount retailer Aldi. Only beaten on price by Aldi’s non-organic offering (also reviewed in this article). The first thing you’ll notice when opening the packaging is a pleasant but sweet scent. It actually doesn't taste as bitter as you might expect or want from a dark chocolate but is well-balanced. It has a slightly grainy texture, but overall feels very smooth in your mouth. Aldi’s Simply Nature Dark Chocolate has a warm toasted flavor with a pleasant linger. The chocolate is Swiss-made and is USDA Organic Certified. It’s also Utz Certified, indicative of good agricultural practices, farm management, social and living conditions, and the environment.
Whole Foods Dark Chocolate
Not entirely unexpected, Whole Foods’ chocolate bar is the most expensive one in our test. The package could almost trick you into thinking it’s organic with its earthy colors and labels, but upon close inspection, one label is a Whole Foods quality guarantee, and the other is to designate Costa Rica as the source of the cocoa beans. The final product is made in Belgium.
Both smell and flavor immediately suggest you’re dealing with a classic dark chocolate. Whole Foods delivers a very robust dark chocolate with the bitterness you would expect from this type of chocolate. It has a strong snap and is the least creamy chocolate in our test. You’ll discover hints of raisin and a distinct smokiness in the aftertaste. It is a very tannic chocolate that leaves the mouth slightly dry.
Central Market Organic Dark Chocolate
Available at Central Market and HEB, and one of two organic chocolate bars in our test (the other one being Aldi’s Simply Nature). Central Market brings us the sweetest-smelling bar. You’re met by an intense floral scent when you open the package. It doesn’t taste as sweet as it smells. Fruitiness and bitterness go hand-in-hand. This organic dark chocolate has a nice creamy texture and melts very evenly. The combo of flavor and texture result in a very enjoyable chocolate.
Aldi Schogetten Dark
At 99 cents for 100 grams, Aldi’s Schogetten are the cheapest offering. They’re a German-made chocolate that comes in pieces, much like a bonbon, instead of a bar. Aldi’s Schogetten are labeled as dark, but the back of the package reveals they only contains 50% cocoa solids. Unsurprisingly, they could be mistaken for milk-chocolate. Very sweet with almost no bitterness to it. A bigger surprise is the undeniable coconut smell and taste. The chocolate has a decent texture but melts extremely fast and doesn’t leave behind any lingering flavors.
Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate
Available in almost all supermarkets we visited, Endangered Species offers a broad range of chocolate bars. We stuck with the basic dark for this review. Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate is certified gluten free, certified vegan, and has the promise that 10% of net profits are donated to non-profit partners that protect and preserve wildlife. A nice touch. The word natural could lead you to believe this chocolate is organic, but it’s not. The chocolate is made in the USA. At 488 per 100 grams, it has the fewest calories of any chocolate in our test.
We are “welcomed” by a strong Pepto bis mol scent when opening the package. This makes Endangered Species the most unpleasant smelling chocolate in our test. The chocolate has a very soft texture and almost no snap. It melts quite unequally, creating a gravel texture in your mouth as it warms. Endangered Species has a very powerful chalky flavor. Once that passes, you’re left with a flavorless and grainy substance in your mouth. Ouch.
Lindt Smooth Dark
Another brand you can pick up at almost all supermarkets. At 625 calories per 100 grams, it’s the richest chocolate in our test. Lindt Smooth Dark is made in Switzerland. It has a pleasant slightly sweet smell. It’s a very chewy chocolate that you have to work really hard to melt and get some flavor out. It’s medium sweet, no burntness or bitterness, almost like a milk chocolate. Lindt Smooth Dark is well balanced but has no interesting flavors going on.
The Aldi Schogetten have a strong coconut flavor and no distinct characteristics. Even at 99 cents per 100 grams, they're a tough sell. What's even harder to recommend is the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate. It tastes distinctly like chalk and has an unpleasant texture. We can't recommend either of these. If you're a fan of a classic dark chocolate flavor, the Whole Foods Dark Chocolate will please. At $3.39 for 100 grams, it is the most expensive dark chocolate bar in our test. The Lindt Smooth Dark doesn't disappoint, nor does it excel, making it a fairly forgettable.
That leaves us with the two organic chocolate bars in the test, both Swiss-made. The Aldi Simply Nature is an excellent choice. We ranked it second for flavor but if you're price-conscious, it can't be beat. It's the second cheapest chocolate bar in our test. It's also nice to know the chocolate you're eating is Utz Certified. Our top spot recommendation goes to the Central Market Organic Dark Chocolate. It is a well-balanced chocolate bar, with fruity notes and a nice acidity complementing the slight bitterness you want from a dark chocolate. It's strong on all fronts, making it the best dark chocolate bar you can buy at the supermarket.
What's your favorite supermarket dark chocolate? Let us know in the comments!