One difficulty in sharing fine dark chocolate with others is that milk chocolate lovers fear dark chocolate after being exposed to Hershey’s Special Dark and the like. They expect something dry, over-roasted, and bitter after such experiences. But when you show them truly good dark chocolate, some of them will turn around – just like my good friends did when I took them to the tasting at Cocova last weekend.
In addition to the exposure to high quality dark chocolate, I think another key to transitioning a milk chocolate lover into a milk AND dark chocolate lover is to start with a mild bar that features traditionally pleasant flavors. In other words, nutty is probably more palatable than earthy, sweet fruit notes are probably a better bet than sour citrus, and a smooth melt is a must.
Pralus has several bars that fulfill these criteria, which is probably why my friends fawned over it last Saturday despite their general aversion to dark chocolate. One particular bar, their Sao Tome & Principe Forastero 75% cacao, has sweet flavors without an overload of added sugar.
The aroma is fruity, with banana and cherry most pronounced, and also has a faint honey and cream character mixed in. The melt is slow and just a tad waxy at the beginning, but quickly becomes buttery and rich.
The bar does have an earthy undertone at first, but a stronger nutty flavor will keep dark chocolate skeptics interested. Caramel and coffee develop later, and the chocolate finishes with delicious honey and banana flavors at the end. An exceptionally smooth melt, along with these mild flavors, will turn around even the most staunch anti-dark chocolate people out there despite the lack of added sugar, as this bar is not at all bitter.
Perhaps a gateway dark chocolate bar of sorts for milk chocolate purists.