Chocolate and orange is a time-tested combination where citrus plays against fruity cocoa to create a lively, zingy flavour.
This Velvet Edition bar from Green & Black's augments the classic combo by adding almond into the mix. But is it any good, or should they just stick to the familiar favourite?
I purchased a bar to find out.
I am sure you'll agree that the packaging looks pretty good here. The outer cardboard packaging certainly has bags of shelf appeal - it practically leaped off the shelf as soon as I spotted it. A yellow-to-orange graduated design is embossed with gold foiled text. It looks and feels classy.
The rear of the box is a dark grey, and is crammed with information about the company ethos, the product, and about the Cocoa Life programme, together with the usual nutritional information and a pleasantly short ingredients list.
Green & Black's Velvet Edition Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond Ingredients:
Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Almonds (5%), Blood Orange Oil, Vanilla Bean Powder. Cocoa Solids 70 % minimum.
No nasties here. Just half a dozen recognisable ingredients which gets a big thumbs up from me.
Inside the cardboard box is a sealed golden foil inner stamped with the G&B branding. It's sealed at the edges, presumably to maintain freshness, but it means you need to exercise surgical precision if you wish to retain the foil to store the remaining segments of your bar for consumption later.
The bar is segmented into eight squares and one double-width rectangle, each one carrying a leaf emblem. Green & Black's reckon two squares or one rectangle (18 grams) is a sensible portion size and I'm inclined to agree. That means a 90 gram bar can be eeked out to five portions if you are strict with yourself.
Initially, the orange scent overpowered any chocolate aroma, which is exactly what I wanted to see. Even so, it really wasn't anywhere near the level I expected to detect in a product containing Sicilian Blood Orange oil. It was relatively weak, but the chocolate aroma was weaker still which, again, was very curious for dark chocolate with 70% minimum solids. There was a gentle intrusion of sweetness courtesy of the lightly roasted chopped almonds but had I not read the outer box, I wouldn't be able to place that scent.
A dull snap makes it quite tough to portion neatly, but if you still have that surgical dexterity to hand, it is possible.
So, does it get better upon tasting? Bizarrely, the dominant flavours on the palate completely oppose the aroma. I detected a clear taste of almond at first, perhaps thanks to the chopped texture generously rippled through the bar. That crunch was closely followed by the dark chocolate notes. Most surprisingly of all, the orange flavour hummed gently in the background, playing nicely with the smooth chocolate texture. It didn't overpower and politely let the cocoa do its thing. The delicate dark chocolate had a nice depth of flavour that lead to a gentle bitterness in the aftertaste. Madagascan vanilla bean powder was listed in the ingredients list but I couldn't detect this in either the aroma or taste so it really was very subtle.
Overall, I would describe the taste from this bar as quite flat. The Ghanian chocolate was disappointingly too mellow despite its 70% cocoa solids. This bar serves as a very good example that a high percentage of cocoa solids does not fully guarantee incredible depth of flavour. The crunch from the chopped almonds added texture but I felt it got in the way.
Then we come onto the orange. I desperately wanted it to slap me hard across the face, and transport me instantly to the sunny Spanish countryside. But the concentration wasn't strong enough for my liking. It delivered on aroma but slipped away in the taste. The orange flavour ought to be allowed to sing its heart out, but in this concert, it was a headline act that sat in the wings, barely seen or heard by the audience.
It is an enjoyable bar but it failed to deliver the flavour punch I craved. I love the relatively short ingredients list and simply adore the packaging, but the chocolate bar itself is just okay. There's just not enough of the right flavours in this bar, and the almond crunch is distracting, leaving a light gritty taste in the mouth. Orange really ought to be front and centre in this bar, but it sits on the sidelines. So I feel it's a bar to share with the kids or to nibble on in front of the telly. Nice, but it could be bolder.
Since purchasing this bar, I think I've seen it in most supermarkets. The full Velvet Edition range can be found at Green & Black's here°.
How do you think the Velvet Edition range compares to Green & Black's original range? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclosure: I paid £1.50 for one 90g Green & Black's Velvet Edition Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond bar at a Cadbury shop in an outlet village. I was not asked for a review. My opinions are my own.