* Prices may differ from that shown
== Background ==
Here I go with another confectionery review; it's not long since the last one, I know, which a bit of a novel experience for me these days! This time I'm looking at a no-added-sugar bar; I don't have a great deal of experience of these so I was hoping to have an interesting (but preferably not "interesting") time with it. Cavalier is a relatively new name, the company being founded only in 1996. The corporate website (which can be found at www.cavalier.be) is a bit on the waffly side, especially where nutrition is concerned, but there's the odd interesting nugget hidden in there as well. I bought my 85g bar from Poppy's, an independent confectionery shop in Kidderminster for £1.99; I've never seen the brand in supermarkets, though.
Almost two quid for an 85-gram bar of chocolate is expensive when you compare it to the Dairy Milks of this world, but then sugar-free (or nearly so) confectionery *is* expensive. Actually I think the mark-ups on such products are bordering on the scandalous: with Werther's Originals, for example, an 80g pack of sugar-free sweets is the same price as a 135g pack of the regular stuff! Still, you could look at it another way and say that it's not a huge price for semi-specialist Belgian chocolate. After all, if you go into Selfridges or somewhere you can certainly pay a great deal more than this for similar bars.
== Range and nutrition ==
The Cavalier range contains several bars, but as I'm rather partial to dark chocolate I went for this one. It's Belgian - properly Belgian, as in actually made in Belgium - and has a cocoa content of a moderate 55%. I can't tell from the wrapper whether or not it's suitable for vegetarians, so I'm afraid veggies may have to steer clear. The packaging for the Cavalier bar is quite tasteful, the dark red in particular being very easy on the eye, and I liked that it didn't try to look like any more common brands. On the back is an even wordier than usual slab of tiny print with ingredients and suchlike in about 583 different languages.
Cavalier are clearly going for the diet-conscious buyer, as there's a lot made of the bar's carbohydrate count, though that's not actually much lower than a standard choccy bar; it's just that most of it's made up of polyols rather than sugar. There's also the mysterious and unexplained note "1BE=47g"; the only thing I can think that it might stand for is "base excess" (*very* roughly, a measure of metabolic acidosis), though I don't recall seeing that listed on a chocolate bar before. On the plus side, it weighs in at a mere 425 kcal per 100 grams, which is decidedly on the low side for chocolate.
Instead of sugar we get maltitol-lactitol as the main sweetener. (Not stevia, as I believe is the case in some countries, as that's not licensed for use over here. Watch out, as some reviews online are American, and *do* refer to its containing stevia.) Maltitol-lactitiol does have laxative effects if eaten in "excessive" quantities; manufacturers are very reluctant to be any less vague than that, partly because the level that might set off such unfortunate consequences can vary wildly from person to person. Another ingredient is inulin; this also has the unwelcome side-effect of flatulence in some people!
== Eating and verdict ==
Assuming the previous paragraph hasn't scared you off for good, you open the wrapper (two layers, both simply unwrap, the inner one is simple silver foil) to find a block of 24 chunks arranged in a straightforward six-by-four rectangle with the odd random line engraved into the blocks in the hope that it'll look like an actual arty design. The smell isn't all that appetising, to be honest; it's not *bad*, but it doesn't really have the "ooh" factor that a treat such as chocolate should do. There was a decent fruitiness in there, but also a slightly cardboardy aroma which is very slightly off-putting.
The snap as you break off a piece is quite satisfying, though, especially since the bar doesn't seem to melt that easily. As for eating it? My feelings are, once again, that it's not a disaster by any means, but that it certainly could have been better. After a few chews the texture is pretty good; it melts nicely in your mouth. But it just doesn't feel special enough to justify its pricing. If I'd tasted it blind, I'd have guessed it to be somewhere in the upper echelons of supermarket bars, which are generally around two-thirds the price of this. The Cavalier is a decent bar of chocolate, but that's all.