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Lounge Review | Earth Loaf Chocolates

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-05-2014 Sumana Mukherjee

The chief ingredient of most commercially available chocolates in India, even those that call themselves “dark”, is sugar. Some even contain dairy, which inhibits the body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants present in dark chocolate. Sure, not everyone consumes dark chocolate as health food but the taste, too, frequently leaves one wanting.

Apart from brands like Lindt, which insist on their own temperature-controlled storage, other chocolates can be found squidgy or soft or, worse, covered in a white bloom, indicating that it melted and was then reset in the fridge. Good chocolate is as sensitive to temperature as wine.

So you can’t blame me for approaching Earth Loaf chocolates with scepticism. A “handmade”, “artisan” brand? Out of Mysore? Right.

The good stuff

Block-printed indigo-blue peacocks on matte-white handmade paper provide the right touch of ethnic whimsy in the packaging. The bar appears the right size, a nice weight too—72g, according to the label—and don’t miss the hand-inscribed born on/best before dates (a life of six months). The next layer is the thin foil pack. And then, finally, the bar itself: 16 imprinted, inviting squares of shiny, beautifully tempered chocolate.

Earth Loaf does two bars, both 72% dark chocolate—that is, 72% of the bar is cocoa, sourced from a single certified-organic south Indian plantation (which explains the “single-origin” claim on the label). They are also “raw” chocolate: The beans are fermented, cleaned and dried but not heat-roasted (the commercial processing step that alters the chemical nature of the bean most significantly). The “bon-bons”—one-mouthful truffles—are also raw, single-origin affairs. These two qualities set Earth Loaf apart from most commercially available chocolate in India.

The 72% Dark I try first breaks with a satisfying snap. A couple of seconds between my fingers and it begins to give a little—all good—and when I pop it into my mouth, the flavours that ooze on to my tongue are strong, powerful, pure. It’s not sweet, but strangely exhilarating: The bitterness is almost provocative, distinctly adult. The aftertaste lingers for a while and a single square has a high satiety factor.

The Cacao Nibs and Coconut Sugar bar, on the other hand, has an underlayer of the two elements and is definitely easier on tastebuds accustomed to commercial chocolate. Of the two varieties of bon-bons, I much preferred the Tiramisu Coffee Cream, dark couverture encasing a delicious, not-too-sweet filling comprising Arabica beans, vanilla, nutmeg and rock salt.

An extension of the Earth Loaf line is the Organic Cacao Nibs. It resembles broken red rice or crushed betel nut and tastes like a cross between a coffee bean, a rice grain and an unskinned nut—basically, like nothing you would want to eat. However, cacao nibs are something of a superfood, a storehouse of fibre, iron, magnesium, as well as compounds such as phenylethylamine, anandamide and theobromine. I added a bit to my morning muesli and found it did not make a significant difference; if I was having it medicinally, it could have been far worse.

The not-so-good

The second flavour of bon-bons, Masala Chai, seemed a bit gimmicky, overpowered by the cardamom and cinnamon in the filling. The real concern, though, is the difference in the two deliveries of chocolate I received. The first, which was handled personally, was in perfect condition. The second, which came via courier in a box stuffed with ice packs and thermo-insulation, arrived in a less than ideal state. Given that Earth Loaf is headquartered in Mysore and is looking at online orders from across the country (as well as on-site retailers in Bangalore), this needs immediate attention.

Talk plastic

Chocolate bars cost `270 for 72g, the bon-bons, `190 for 50g, the raw cacao nibs, `250 for 200g.

For details, visit Earthloaf.co.in.

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