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Taste test: chocolates in Singapore

Our blind taste test of the best chocolates that you won't find in your local 7-Eleven, led by Andrea Cheong

Chocolate is that classic, sure-to-please gift that can, depending on where you're at relationship-wise, propel you straight out of the friendzone or butter your partner up (hey, chocolate is an aphrodisiac, right?) The women of Time Out Singapore gave the following brands of chocolates a blind tasting so you can get the right one.

For the food geek
Photo: Jay Chua
1/12

For the food geek

Fossa Chocolate

Fossa is all about the cacao. Owner Jay Chua sources his beans from farmers all over the globe, who ferment and dry them without using industrial means of processing. Then, here in Singapore, he continues the process of roasting, conching and packing the single-origin chocolates he sells on his website. 

We tried the 70 percent from Peru, 67 percent from Tanzania, 72 percent from Venezuela, and 70 percent from Madagascar ($6-$6.50/26g). The Peruvian reminds us of coffee with its sourness, the Madagascan has a bright, spicy and acidic flavour, and Tanzania is dry with a sweet and astringent finish. Fossa's bars are divisive and an acquired taste, but the Venezuelan is a good entry-level offering with its rich base note and body, sensual and smoky like the thick fumes of a cigar, which spread across our tongues without being too cloying.

Packaging 2/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 5/5

www.fossachocolate.com 

For the tea connoisseur
Photo: Lee Xian Jie
2/12

For the tea connoisseur

Demochoco

Demochoco had the gourmands in us clawing for these bite-sized powdered cubes. Creator Jialiang Lim began his journey as a student in Paris, taking his love of combining flavours with cocoa to create something innovative. We sampled green tea truffles ($17.70), made with Marukyu-koyamaen matcha from Kyoto, as well as the Marco Polo ($16.65) and Earl Grey bites ($17.70), both created with Mariage Frères teas imported from Paris. A cat mascot sits on the Singapurr Story ($17.70) box, which hides rich dollops of gula Melaka and coconut. 

The soft textures of the truffles belie their intense flavours. The Earl Grey bonbons are hands-down the best of the lot, with a strong perfume of bergamot balanced with dark chocolate. Matcha is also a winner, although it didn’t really taste anything like your typical chocolate, and opinions were split over whether it was better than Royce. We were optimistic about Singapurr Story – because who can resist a cat pun – except it really didn't taste much like chocolate at all but a fancy take on a local dessert. Marco Polo is decadent, with a multi-dimensional flavour that evolves from slightly bitter to a finish that's quite like white chocolate.

Oh, and the chocolates are quick to melt, so don't make plans to hand-deliver them to your girlfriend in Pasir Ris without first packing them in an ice box.

Packaging 4/5

Flavour 4/5

Texture 4/5

www.demochoco.com

For your first Valentine
3/12

For your first Valentine

Beans to Bars

Victor Seah, one of the self-professed ‘labourers’ (aka 'co-founder') of Beans to Bars, printed our magazine cover on a pinewood box packed with chocolate goodies – the custom-printed cases are a complimentary service with any purchase over $80. And although we didn’t get to choose which chocolates would arrive (neither will you if your order this box), Victor sent over his favourite – the 70 percent dark chocolate with honeycomb – that had us fantasising about a super suave version of a Crunchie bar.

The chocolate is of good quality but the nuggets of golden honeycomb are scattered throughout the bar, so some bites were more bitter than others. Other interesting flavours that Beans to Bars sent over came from Chocolate Naïve: the brand packs caramel, berries, hops and honey into smooth, simple bars. We love caramel the most, but a few of us would give the other flavours a miss.

Packaging 5/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 4/5

www.beanstobars.sg

For the girl who enjoys the finer things in life
4/12

For the girl who enjoys the finer things in life

Teuscher Chocolates

The Swiss chocolatier, which National Geographic named its favourite four years ago, arrives on our shores with its signature champagne truffles ($68). Filled with a rich and aromatic centre of Dom Perignon, the casing melts – pleasurably, we should add – in our hands, prompting a few rather enthusiastic members of our taste test to exclaim, ‘You can lick my fingers!’ If anything, the chocolate is more a vessel for the alcoholic explosion. And yes, it did complement the bitter dark chocolate well. 

Gifting a box of these will send you soaring out of the friendzone. The freshly made, air-flown truffles definitely send strong 'let's get it on' signals, but that’s only if your date can get past the box that resembles a gift picked up at the airport. Just like what they say about men with big feet (a disappointment), you certainly can’t judge this chocolate by its cover.

Packaging 2/5

Flavour 4/5

Texture 4/5

Read more
City Hall
For the Francophile
5/12

For the Francophile

Hediard Singapore

The Hediard Passionnement box of five chocolates retails for a pricey $32.90, but what arrived was a rather tiny box that resembled a wedding favour (hint hint). We hoped that for around $6 a pop that we would experience the milk chocolate version of a wet dream, but all we got was the wetness of sweet, melted Nutella – and no dream. Still, you'll probably know a girl in your life who loves her desserts sweet, and her brand names fancy and French. 

Packaging 2/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 4/5

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Orchard
For a secret crush
6/12

For a secret crush

Cocoa Colony

If Cocoa Colony’s chocolate bars ($11.90) were a guy, he would be the serious, broody type – think Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones. The dark chocolate peanut butter bar is oilier and saltier than the others in the running, which brought about mixed opinions. The sea salt bar, however, is a safe option, the kind your parents will tell you to marry. But for Valentine's Day, opt for the pralines that come in four ($9) or 12 ($19-$25) pieces and feature heart-shaped chocolates.

Packaging 3/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 3/5

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Orchard
For the art and design geek
7/12

For the art and design geek

Janice Wong Sweets

Like most of Janice Wong's treats, the ones we picked out were stunning, painted gems of art. At $2.50 to $3 a bite and with Wong's brand name and reputation, we were looking forward to quality indulgence. However, we can't say we were thoroughly impressed.

Go for the salted caramel and pop rocks. The caramel is well-balanced with complexity like a luxe Ferrero Rocher, while popping candy in pop rocks excites the tongue. And although the chocolate casings are of irrefutably good quality, the pandan filling in one is too creamy and thick, almost like swallowing a teaspoon of kaya. The chilli chocolate is a dramatic piece, sweet in the beginning, then stark, smoky and burnt at the end. A few of us compare it to being punched in the throat – which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Packaging 5/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 4/5

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Orchard
For the unfussy
8/12

For the unfussy

Godiva

The mother of any-occasion chocolates, Godiva was expected to deliver. We tried two of their bestsellers – a milk chocolate praline and a dark chocolate truffle – and the highly recommended milk chocolate truffle. For seven pieces, $35.80 is pretty steep, and we didn’t even get to squeal over one of those heart shaped boxes.

But on to the chocs. The praline has a crunchy texture and envelopes your mouth from roof to tongue in an uncomfortable grip that shrieked, ‘Sugar!’ The dark chocolate truffle is flat. And the chocolate truffle's heavy dust of powder detracts from its overall taste – its oily texture can be best described as 'synthetic'. Godiva, despite your reputation, we aren't salivating for you, so get off your high horse.

Packaging 2/5

Flavour 2/5

Texture 2/5

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Orchard
For the beauty junkie
9/12

For the beauty junkie

Ocelot Raspberry and Vanilla from Hello Chocolate

This online chocolate retailer (it also has a pop-up on the second storey of Scotts Square) by husband-and-wife duo Dmitry and Nina Minkov carries award-winning names such as Marou and Akessons, packed in strikingly beautiful wrappers.

A raspberry and vanilla bar from Ocelot ($19) was way too palatable that we were in danger of inhaling the entire thing. The dehydrated raspberry pieces hit our taste buds with the right amount of tanginess, although this loses points for being ‘vanilla and raspberry’-flavoured because it's more like really nice chocolate sprinkled with dried fruit. A very girly bar, with printed lipstick marks on the cover, perfect for your BFF or sister.

Packaging 4/5

Flavour 4/5

Texture 4/5

www.hellochocolate.asia

For yourself
10/12

For yourself

Beschle Lassi 36 percent from Hello Chocolate

One of the highest-scoring chocolates of our entire taste test that managed to please everyone was Beschle’s Lassi 36 percent white chocolate with lemon and cardamom ($12). The citrus gives a piquant twist to each bite, which balances out the sweetness of the white chocolate from Switzerland – it's like a lemon cheesecake in a bar. The hints of cardamom are also so carefully balanced that they hardly offend.

Packaging 4/5

Flavour 5/5

Texture 5/5 

www.hellochocolate.asia

For an old-fashioned partner
11/12

For an old-fashioned partner

Akesson's Madagascar with Pink Pepper from Hello Chocolate

Akesson’s Madagascar with Pink Pepper 75% ($12) bears stickers boasting awards for best flavoured chocolate. If you’re gifting this to a foodie, especially along with a bottle of whiskey, it will go down a treat but it is best not to try your luck because packaging looks like a holiday souvenir. The texture was velvety as it liquefied in our mouths, with a slight astringency. The fruitiness and crunch of the peppercorn came through, as did florals and pings of nuttiness. Ron Swanson would likely have this after his porterhouse dinner, but would deny it if the PNR crew found out. 

Packaging 3/5

Flavour 5/5

Texture 4/5

www.hellochocolate.asia

For the understated, yet stylish
12/12

For the understated, yet stylish

Marou Dak Lak 70 percent from Hello Chocolate

Marou wraps the product of single-origin Vietnamese beans between seriously sexy packaging. It's svelte and luxurious to hold, similar to the feeling you get when you first cradle your new iPhone in your hands. The Dak Lak 70 percent mini single-origin dark chocolate ($5) is a lighter, more refreshing and less bitter version of a dark chocolate. A simple dark classic for an elegant date.

Packaging 4/5

Flavour 3/5

Texture 4/5

www.hellochocolate.asia

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