Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Woodbury, NJ
After some searching around, I found the latest of my cocoa tastings, though they were still almost 5 years ago! The tasting before this was about 5 years before, and had several brands no longer available, so some of these may not be available. One I tested in the tasting before, that is available almost everywhere now, and ATK gave it a top rating recently, was Droste. However, it was near the bottom in flavor; though no bad flavors, I still didn't even try it this time. Another that was at the bottom the time before was Valrhona - a brand recommended by many top rated chefs and cookbook authors (the reason I got some!). Yet, it was almost flavorless! Almost black in color, but almost no flavor. Another one I used up in black breads, a tb or so at a time. You can see my mention of the KAF black, back then.
The first place one in the first tasting was the Hershey's Silver, which is no longer available, unfortunately (the second place "Jersey Cocoa is also nowhere to be found now). This is why I was surprised that the "Special Dark" that they replaced it with was so bad. Do they still make this? Probably not, if this tasting was any indication.
Guittard Rouge - This and Bensdorp were almost tied for top spot, but this had a slightly better aroma, and a less bitter aftertaste. Not quite as strong tasting as Bensdorp, but only when trying them side by side several times did I come to this comclusion.
Bensdorp - The strongest tasting of the bunch, with a lightly bitter aftertaste, though not unpleasant. Probably better in baked goods, but only one way to find that out!
Bergenfield - This wasn't bad, just not strong at all. Lightest in color and flavor - like drinking a milk chocolate bar. Sort of reminds me of regular Hershey's cocoa.
Guittard full dutched 22-24% Jersey cocoa - This smelled better in the bag than it did in the cup, and was sort of a flat, one dimensional chocolate flavor. Maybe the "full dutching" destroys some of the flavor? One strange aftertaste with this, I couldn't place at first, then I realized it tasted like it had been sweetened with sorghum.
King Arthur Flour no name, dutched cocoa - This had a decent aroma, in the bag and in the cup, but it was the flavor that was lacking, and a vegetable aftertaste that I couldn't quite place - like a hint of parsnips. Sounds weird, but that's why I couldn't figure it out at first. You know how it is - I know that flavor, but... :?
Hershey's Special Dark - To borrow a term from Merstar (a cook in this other forum) , this cocoa was vile! It didn't smell like cocoa in the container, or in the cup after cooking, and I tasted it cautiously, and it was, if not the worst tasting cocoa I have ever had, it was close! I dumped the cocoa out w.o. tasting it again, then tossed the container in the trash. There was a black cocoa that KAF sold (actually, I think they still sell it) that this was similar to - almost no chocolate flavor, just super dark.
My friends, who assisted me in these cocoa and chocolate tastings, as well as tomato and hot pepper tastings every season, have mostly retired & moved away. Most say that they really miss them; only one says that he missed the hot pepper tastings. lol