October 13, 2009
(misspelling due to subject-line length limitations - I couldn't think of any way to shorten this any further)
Artisan du Chocolat have produced a milk chocolate alternative - presumably to offer something approximating milk chocolate to the lactose intolerant.
At last someone's recognised that almond milk is the best realistic milk alternative. Things like soy milk, oat milk, etc. always taste wierd and in any case the pure taste of almond milk is just basically more similar. Why has no one else thought of this before?
Anyway, the chocolate itself proved to be really quite passable. As one might expect both aroma and flavour have a definite marzipan component, but there is also a recognisable cocoa note and some molasses hints. I detected a hint of peppermint - not a batch
impurity, I think, but a genuine characteristic - this is rather a surprise.
On the negative side, it is rather too sweet. This I think is a problem with almond milk which seems invariably to be produced sweetened. Is there a reason why manufacturers always do this with almond milk? To me, at least, almonds are usually perfectly sweet as is, with no need for additional sugar. However, that's a factor which is, I think, out of Artisan's control. Texture is more of a problem: it's rather dry, coarse, and fudgy. What I suspect is needed here is careful juggling of the chocolate liquor/almond milk/cocoa butter ratio. It probably needs more cocoa butter and liquor, and a reduction in sugar. In fact, the sugar might be able to be eliminated altogether given that almond milk invariably has some already.
Is this an effective substitute for milk chocolate? Let us not be mistaken: this bar is noticeably different from a classic milk chocolate. But it's not different in a really strange and off-putting
way. It's certainly possible to do better in milk chocolate, but as
far as milk alternatives go, it's peerless. No other such chocolate even approaches palatability, much less reasonable quality. There's room for improvement. But at least this bar indicates the answer to the question of milk substitution.
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