The top 10 dark chocolates: These scored the best in the tasting. No matter what type of dark chocolate eater you are, you should be able to find a winner here.
Chocolove, 70%: Very snackable. Not the most interesting of dark chocolates; you won't be thrown through a roller coaster of flavors. Was that blackcurrants or kiwi? Nope, just to-the-point dark chocolate. It has a nutty richness, but nothing too overwhelming. Very creamy. It's SE ad sales director Erin Adamo's favorite. She's been known to stash a bar in her purse.
Newman's Own Organics, 70%: Closet milk chocolate fans posing as dark chocolate fiends: this is your bar. It's quite sweet and mildly bitter without being bland. The hints of coconut and vanilla aren't too distracting and keep it interesting. Really creamy too. Of the organic chocolates we tried, this was our fave.
Scharffen Berger, 70%: This is dark chocolate for the dark chocolate lover. It's bitter (too bitter for some tasters) with a slightly acidic bite and a deep, lingering dark chocolate finish. It's creamy—creamy the way milk chocolate usually is but dark sadly isn't always. Mmm, melty.
Ghiradelli, 60%: Strong chocolate flavor with a slightly fruity aftertaste. Some liked it; others were put off by the fruitiness. It could have been creamier on the tongue, but in general it "tasted like the archetypal dark chocolate," agreed tasters.
Godiva, 72%: The thin bar is nice so you're not biting into a brick, but it doesn't have much character. A little nutty, and definitely bitter, but we wish it had more of a lingering chocolate flavor. Pretty mediocre overall, but fine if you need a quick fix.
Ritter Sport, 71%: The familiar Legos-esque square bricks are verging on awkwardly big, but they give a great *snap* when you bite into them. "Nice temper," noted our chocolate columnist Liz. It's not crazy-chocolatey, but strikes a nice balance between sweetness and bitterness. SE's Adam Kuban is a big Ritter Sport enthusiast (specifically the kind with cornflakes).
Trader Joe's Organic, 73%: Whoa, raisins! This is a fruitbomb. You almost forget you're eating a chocolate bar. It was a nice change from all the one-note flavors, but you have to be OK with fruity. "I'd probably use this one in cookies," said Liz.
Whole Foods 365 Organic, 52%: Definitely the sweetest. "All I taste is sweet," said Liz. This is another one for dark chocolate poseurs (secretly milk chocolate fans). It needed more bitter bite, but if you're having an indecisive moment between milk and dark, maybe this is the happy medium. It had one of the lowest cacao percentages of those we tried.
WINNER: Valrhona, 71%: Alright, dark chocolate snobs, this one's for you. Super complex, bitter, fruity, slightly sour, with just a smidge of sweetness. Liz was all smiley about this one. "I'd definitely snack on it," she said. (She ranked it the highest.) Ed was a fan too. Valrhona started the trend of providing cocoa percentages on the packaging, and most of their chocolates are on the dark side. They have several products ranging from 55% to 85% cocoa content, but the 70% was just the right amount of dark for us. One square—let it melt, don't chomp so fast—lingers in the mouth for several minutes. Like my Kindergarten teacher used to say about using glue, a dab will do ya.
WINNER: Trader Joe's, 72% Imported from Belgium: This was the biggest crowdpleaser, not to mention the cheapest. First, to clarify, Trader Joe's has many chocolate offerings: this is the 72% one "imported from Belgium" sold in a 17-ounce slab (pictured) for $4.99, or as a three-pack with smaller 1.67 ounce bars for $1.50. Talk about the best bang for the buck. It's one of those TJ's products that turns shoppers into diehard TJ's-worshiping groupies.
Smooth, nicely balanced, and not intensely bitter, it's better than you think it's going to be. Though a touch too sweet (cough, safe for the milk chocolate fans) it still satisfies as a robustly dark chocolate. Easy to nibble on alone (not abrasive at all), but it also has enough character for fondue, ganache-making, and baking projects.