While spicy chocolate is nothing new historically, it has certainly seen a resurgence in modern times. Vosges, Chuao, and Marie Belle have all embraced the ancient traditions of South America in a variety of interesting ways. The result has been an interesting selection of dark chocolates with cayenne, pepper, or chipotle flavors.
These combinations are hundreds of years old, if not more, and survive for a tasty reason. The bitter flavor of a very dark chocolate an intensity, dense with complexities. The strength of the bitter cacao allows secondary flavors to etch subtle notes into each bite, each requiring careful consideration to deconstruct when tasting. Piquant—spicy—tastes tend to be very overpowering as well, but require more time to build within the mouth. The combination of many spices in chocolate can create a spicy taste as diverse as its bitterness. The marriage of spicy and bitter in chocolate is a natural progression of combining like tastes for something even more interesting.
As a result, it can be difficult to find milk chocolate with an added spicy palette; creamy and spicy are two very contrasting flavors. However, Dolfin—a Belgian company—has created a chocolate experience to match that peculiar fusion. While some companies have milk versions of their dark spicy bars, Dolfin has produced a spicy milk bar from the ground up drawing from an East Indian Tradition: the Hot Masala bar.
It is prudent to be picky around spicy milk chocolate; for the same reasons that bitter and spicy go well together, sweet and spicy can work against each other. Dolfin, as always, has done an excellent job at blending the flavors in just the right amount to create a fantastic piece of chocolate.
The Hot Masala is quite a spicy piece of chocolate, and that spice could easily overpower flavors in a lesser bar; however, the thick cream texture of this Belgian chocolate keeps the spice under control. A variety of spices are used to bridge the gap between spicy and sweet: ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
When the sweetness of the chocolate enters into the mix, magic happens. Sweet is intrinsically an engaging and palatable flavor, but when a chocolate is overly sweet it drowns and muddies the rest of the flavors. The Hot Masala has just a quick burst of sweetness on the initial bite, just enough to peak the taste buds and pull the taster into the chocolate. Quickly the sweetness of the chocolate fades to give way to the spices. While the Masala taste takes the forefront, that mild chocolate sweetness does not disappear. The light combination creates a warm medley of flavors that are incredibly well matched.
Dolfin lives up to its reputation as a company that masterfully mixes its flavors, and this spicy milk chocolate bar is a seldom seen concept executed incredibly well.