We often speak of bars that enthrall the senses in ways that only a particular origin can; or those that deliver a breadth of flavor only achievable through a proprietary blend or a distinct set of processing standards. Dozens of these bars come to mind, and they indeed deserve praise and admiration, but now is not the time. Instead, I want to focus on the other end of the spectrum, the amazingly hideous bars that make you cringe at the mere thought of them.
You see, in our quest for the “best” chocolate we tend to forget about the bad bars, and in so doing, fail to acknowledge the courage and bravery of a chocolate maker who despite his reputable standing releases a bar so ghastly as to be unimaginable.
In some ways, these chocolates are so bad that you have to wonder if the maker was actually trying to achieve that level of mediocrity. It truly is mind boggling, but luckily we have been blessed with these gems to understand just how bad chocolate can be.
I based this list off my reviews on Seventypercent, and only bars with ratings of 5.9 or below qualified. (The number in parentheses indicates the final score received on the site.) I think this list is amazingly accurate, so much so that I’m quite excited to see that my opinions are consistent with the ratings. So, without further adieu, on with the World’s Worst Chocolate Bars!
13. Bonnat Madagascar 75% (5.9) – Bonnat has become synonymous with dark roasting and Madagascar with light and fruity flavors. Pralus, another dark roaster, showed that this combination can work, but Bonnat was apparently on a mission to prove him wrong. The chocolate starts off decent but takes a nosedive into mediocrity, turning bitter and devoid of any positive flavors.
12. Dagoba Conacado 73% (5.4) – I don’t know if this flavor was something Dagoba was aiming for but if so they need to realign their objectives and focus on quality rather than…this. Admittedly, the bar has improved since its inception but not enough to show that a promising future is in store. With a rough and grainy texture and a flavor that can best be described as “sweet earth” the chocolate perpetuates Western fantasies of grassroots appeal.
11. Scharffen Berger Kumasi-Sambirano (5.5) – What a disastrously one-sided and bland chocolate this is. Ghana is strong and chocolaty while Madagascar is light and complex, yet Scharffen Berger shamelessly blended the two origins and created a bar that delivers faint reflections of what these two cacaos could deliver on their own. This is proof that the two don’t blend successfully, or at least in the ratios Scharffen Berger had in mind.
10. Valrhona Gran Couva 2005 (5) – Gran Couva was once an impressive chocolate that demanded consumption but over the years it has denigrated to the ranks of a paltry pauper, flailing in the wake of its predecessors. Annual improvements have occurred, however, but 2005 was an abysmal year, showing only sweetness, brown sugar, and nothing else of notable merit. It was a deflated chocolate in every respect.
9. Kshocolat Single Estate 72% (4.79) – Without actually stating where this single estate is located, Kshocolat made this bar mysterious right from the outset. Since we now know from their website (Sao Tome), the remaining mystery is how a company can make such a bad chocolate from an origin that’s at worst average. Sweet vanilla is the prevailing flavor, as well as a droning flatness that evokes nothing but ire with each listless bite. You might be amazed at how “sweet” or calm the flavor is, but when an origin is already limited in scope, this is not a good thing.
8. Valrhona Le Noir Extra Amer 85% (4.7) – Valrhona is usually right on track with exceptional chocolate but this one must have slipped through quality control. The bitterness in this bar is nearly intolerable, and the notes of ash and iron don’t win any points either. This is enough to offend at any percentage, but at 85% it’s like a punch in the face…several times.
7. Venchi Cuor di Cacao 85% (4.6) – Ever wondered what a chocolate-covered steel girder would taste like? Here’s your answer. Not only is the bar littered with metallic nuances, but it also delivers an exceptionally high bitterness level for that added kick in the gut. No intensity either, and a flavor similar to Dutched cocoa powder continue the downward spiral into depravity.
Check back soon for Part 2. But in the meantime, get these bars to see what you’re missing!