Product Type: Lindt Chocolate Chocolate
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Lindt 70% - chocolatey chocolate for chocoholics like me
Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate
Member Name: beckyX
Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate
Date: 05/11/10, updated on 30/05/11 (154 review reads)
Advantages: Non-dairy, tasty, chocolate, inexpensive
Disadvantages: Not very healthy, rather bitter
Judging by the large number of chocolate bars that I've eaten and reviewed over the years purely to help all you readers out (why does nobody believe that?) I was somewhat amazed when Lindt 70% reviews started popping up and I saw that I hadn't already written a review on it. Bizarrely the icon on dooyoo for this product is of the 85% but it's listed as "lindt-dark-chocolate-70-cocoa", so this is where the review is going.
Doubly odd that I haven't already reviewed it given that this is the bar of chocolate that I eat the most often. No, I'm not posh or elitist about my chocolate or anything, it's just that it's one of the cheapest and most readily available bars that don't have dairy in which means it's safe for the likes of me. Plus it tastes pretty good too. So I'm not quite sure how it got missed out from the reviews before now, but I'll take any excuse to eat a bar of it that I get.
Also this chocolate is from a Swiss chocolatier who have been in business since 1845, factors that I find are usually promising in a chocolate. That's more optimism on my part than snobbery though - I had no idea from the taste that this was originally a Swiss chocolate. I find that the quality difference is less apparent with dark chocolate than with milk as the cocoa percentages are so much higher anyway.
==Obtaining the chocolate==
I'm not sure how much the actual SPECIFIC bar of chocolate I ate to review cost because I stole it. Well, half of it anyway. From a friend, I hasten to add, not from a shop. And they still think I'm fabulous even though I ate their chocolate, so all is well in the world. But I buy this brand quite often and I know the price varies between about £1.50 and £2.50 depending on how tree-huggingly hippy/small the shop you buy it from is and whether it is on special offer. Currently it's at £1.78 for a 100g bar in Tesco. I've seen it at most health food stores, large supermarkets and many corner shops and newsagents as well - it's very often the only non-dairy bar which shops sell.
The bar comes as a foil-wrapped cardboard-encased thin slab about eight inches across and four inches wide and a quarter inch deep, making it incredibly flat and thin and so very, very breakable. I lose track of the number of times in the past that I have bought a bar of it as a present for a friend but accidentally dropped it and smashed it and had to eat it myself. Sometimes I had to accidentally drop it two or three times to get it to break, so the quality in that regard is very variable.
Each bar is formed of 10 squares of thin chocolate about an inch and a half square. As well as the grooves between the pieces, they are scored faintly with lines diagonally across the chocolate which means they have favoured directions in which to break and if you do try to break a piece off, you often end up with a triangular piece and shards of chocolate flying every which way.
Be very careful though that you don't drop crumbs of it on yourself - it's quite brittle and when you break it it has a bit of a habit of having bits fly off and landing on your clothes. If you don't notice and brush yourself down immediately, these bits can melt into your clothes and are a nightmare to get out again.
As would be expected for a dark chocolate, it is a very dark brown, almost black colour. If your bar looks lighter than this, see the separate section in this review on bloom and what to do with the chocolate.
The thing I like about this bar of chocolate is the taste - because of the high cocoa content, it tastes intensely of chocolate, but isn't horrifically bitter because it's got a lot of sugar in. Not really high enough for my taste, but there isn't a readily available 50-60% bar of chocolate around which doesn't have dairy in. It has hints of a vanilla taste to it, but (hint hint to anyone from Lindt who is reading this) - I reckon they could get away with making the taste even more vanilla-rich. It also has a fabulously rich chocolatey smell to it which really adds to the eating experience - too often when I have a cold, I can't actually taste the chocolate because I've lost my sense of smell.
I find that the taste signature of this product can be a little bit variable - perhaps this is because it gets overwhelmed by the sugar? Overall it has a very gentle taste compared with the 85-99% cocoa (which can be far too harsh for me!) and I find that the smooth texture and the sweetness dominate in the mouth-feel. The usual high-cocoa chocolate hints of cinnamon are present, but I can't detect much of a citrus tang to it. The salty coffee-like bitterness of the 90% variety is almost entirely absent, leaving just a gentle hint of peppery bitterness to counteract the sugar which is something my delicate stomach appreciates (but which my more refined friends find unappealing). Comparing it to the 90% is like comparing a latte to an espresso - they both clearly come from the same plant, but one of them is like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer and the other is mass-market - easier on the stomach, doesn't require sophistication to appreciate. If you want a jolting taste explosion to overpower your bitter taste buds then go for the 90%. If you want a smooth, velvety-rich delicate chocolate that even children would like, go for the 70%.
It also has a high enough cocoa butter content that it is extremely smooth, which gives it a very rich creamy taste even though it has no dairy in - a big thumbs up for the texture from me. Unlike a lower percentage chocolate though, there is no cloying after-taste or after-touch and the chocolate leaves the mouth completely rather than coating and sticking to the teeth and tongue.
Unfortunately for my waistline, this sweetness and texture combination means I could easily put away a whole 100g bar over the course of the day unless I ration myself.
I find that the large squares really help in this regard - I just break a couple of them off and put the rest of the bar away and that generally gives me the chocolate "hit" that I'm after. In my opinion 70% is good in this regard because you need the high cocoa to get the chocolate taste and feeling of eating delicious chocolate, but equally the sugar is important to give me a much-needed mid-afternoon energy boost.
The ingredients of the chocolate bar are cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and natural bourbon vanilla beans. It states that it may contain traces of soya lecithin, hazelnuts, almonds and milk, presumably because it is on the same production line as these. I can't speak for the safety for the very-allergic, but I have asthma that's brough on by dairy and I've never got ill from it, so I can definitely endorse it as good for most of my non-dairy type friends, but do take care.
It's actually very hard to get a good vegan chocolate without soya lecithin in, so I'm not quite sure how they managed to get this to emulsify properly. Voodoo? I suspect it must be something like this, because how can something taste that good?
Per 40g serving (four squares of the 10 square bar) it has 208 kcal, 3.2g protein, 16g fat (9.6g saturated), 13.2g carbohydrates (11.2g sugar) and 24mg sodium. Obviously this doesn't fit well with a diet, but I find that the higher cocoa chocolate leaves you satisfied sooner than a cheap milk chocolate bar.
==What does the 70% mean?==
Short answer: It means it tastes nice, isn't hideously expensive and doesn't have any dairy in!
Chocolate afficionadoes have Firm Opinions about chocolates based on the percentage listed. Me? I base my opinion on the taste, but I know that I like 70% chocolate and am not keen on anything above this, unlike my afficionado friends who think the higher percentage the better. I'm sure they know much more than I do but they are very dull at dinner parties.
In this case, 70% means that 70% of the weight of the product is cocoa solids that derive in one way or another from cacao beans. That includes cocoa butter and cocoa mass (from the cocoa liquor). You don't want to confuse these because they really are there for different reasons - the cocoa butter is fat and gives it the smooth creamy texture that melts at around body temperature (which is why it melts in your mouth and tastes smooth and nice) whereas the cocoa mass is what flavours it. So chocolatiers do have to look carefully at how much is cocoa butter and how much is cocoa solids when working out if it's a proper posh chocolate or not. Personally though I don't care - I just scoff it down no matter what!
==What's the other 30%?==
Mostly sugar. Which might sound really awful, but it makes the chocolate taste better. And milk chocolate is even worse in this regard - as well as the milk, milk chocolate generally has a lot lower percentage cocoa and more sugar added to it.
==What's this odd white colour on the bar?==
Assuming it isn't more than a few months after its best before date (which in my experience you can largely ignore), that's bloom from at least one of the sugar or the fat and means the chocolate has not been stored correctly (depending on which, it has either got damp or the temperature got too hot). It's perfectly safe to eat, but can affect the taste or texture.
To tell what to do with the bar, try brushing the surface - a surface bloom will brush off and the chocolate underneath is usually fine and still tastes good. If it doesn't, it may be brittle all the way through because the chocolate has melted and re-set. If that has happened and you don't like the texture, then use it as cooking chocolate.
==My 70% chocolate tastes crunchy/waxy/of nothing! Is it safe?==
Again, yes, it's safe. Unless by "crunchy" you mean foreign objects like razorblades or something, in which case no it's not safe, someone is trying to kill you. Don't eat those, go to the police.
What has generally happened if it's got a funny texture to it is that your chocolate got too hot and started to melt a bit and when it cooled, it set in a different way to before and its new melting point is higher. The creamy taste that you get from chocolate is because it melts in your mouth. Your chocolate won't melt in your mouth now and you may as well be eating a big lump of sugary wax. I figure at that stage that I'll get the same nutrition from it (calories and fat) but it doesn't taste very good, so I don't really see the point of eating it even if it is safe. Time for baking!
Did you leave it in the sun? Did you put it in a pocket next to your skin? Is it the middle of summer in a hot country? If so, that's why. If not, make a note not to go back to that store again and go to one that does know how to keep chocolate properly instead.
==How long will it keep for?==
Why on earth would you want to keep it? It's not a fine wine! The shelf life of this bar is generally at least a year - my bar is best before November next year. But I've had emergency bars in the cupboard that have ended up well past their best before date and you can really tell as and when they aren't fit even for baking purposes any more. If it hasn't turned to powder, I figure it'll be fine.
The longer you leave it, the more it turns crystalline. If that happens, I bake with it. My suggested easy cooking tips are either a)turn it into fondue with cream or b)grate it into hot chocolate or if you are really keen, then c)take a rolling pin to it and bash it to bits and put the chunks into fairy cakes or muffins or similar.
As a vegetarian type, I am under orders (from my medical doctor friends) that I have to boost my iron levels and that dark chocolate is a great way of doing this. No, I've never been anemic in my life, but this way I will stave it off, so I'll listen to them as long as they are telling me to eat chocolate.
==Is it good hiking food?==
It'll do as hiking food, but it's not ideal. The bar is too flat and thin for this, which means it always ends up melted, broken and and in fragments at the bottom of my bag and I'm picking bits out for weeks afterwards.
If anyone fancies getting me a random bar of chocolate, this is the one I tell them is best to get. It's easily available from supermarkets and health food stores, isn't too expensive to buy, but still has a nice posh feel to it which I think makes it very good value, especially for a non-dairy chocolate. I would give it five out of five stars, but I actually find that 70% is a little bit too high cocoa for me and I'd rather a 50-60% range one because they are sweeter still.
Summary: Accessible, inexpensive posh dark swiss chocolate, Suitable even for children