After trying the Choxie Aztec Thin I was wondering how the fabled Dagoba Xocolatl would compare. The Choxie had some spice to it but no burn and was an all around nice bar. The Dagoba bar (75% cacao content) brings chilis, nibs, maca (more on this mysterious substance later), vanilla and nutmeg to the table all wrapped up in organic goodness.
Ok, the first thing I want to address is the ingredients. I’m all on board with nibs, chilies, vanilla, and nutmeg and they all sound like they belong in a bar that is inspired by Aztec tradition. But what is this maca stuff? Well, the first thing I did was google it and all that did was raise more questions. Seems to be considered to be an aphrodisiac. So, having googled it I went to the source of all knowledge: Wikipedia. Quick facts: it has been a staple food in the Andes for 2000 years; it is related to radishes and turnips; it is super-nutritious; it enhances strength and endurance; and, yes, it acts as an aphrodisiac. Huh. Not what I expected to find lurking in my chocolate though of course there is the idea that chocolate itself is an aphrodisiac. I don’t know if it adds anything to the flavor, but based on it’s history and the region it is from I suppose it does have a place in the bar. Maybe.
Now, on to the bar itself. A quick whiff of the bar indicates that there are chilies lurking in it somewhere and in some quantity. In fact it really seems to hide a lot of the standard Dagoba 74% aroma. It’s kind of strange, but the “earthy” smell that I associate with Dagoba in this case is reaching into my brain and making me think of a walk in the woods. Summer camp with some extra chilies tossed in. Strange, but every so often an aroma will roll along that will immediately fire off memories and this is one of those occasions. Southern Ohio forest. Not sure what to make of it, but that’s what I’m getting.
Putting aside my strange sense of smell lets move on to the bar itself. The taste is really kind of strange. There is something of chocolate there but the chilies really change the taste a lot. It’s a nice combination and not at all like the cayenne pepper truffles I’ve had (which really taste like they just use chili powder – my favorite spice in the world). The combination of the chilies and the strong dark chocolate creates something that really doesn’t taste all that chocolaty to me. But it’s good. It’s a different chocolate experience where the combination of flavors makes it something new. The nutmeg and vanilla are kind of hidden in the mix but I think that they are having an effect on the flavor.
And how about them chilies? As it’s melting in my mouth I’m thinking that there is a little heat there. No real burn, but some heat. More than I got from the Choxie. And then I swallowed. You would think that if I’m eating a chocolate bar full of chilies that I would maybe be expecting to feel a little something in my throat on the way down. You would think that. The burn I got really caught me off guard. It isn’t super hot or anything, but there is some solid burn present and I was really pretty surprised. Most of the time when people make things with chilies in them they don’t make them hot, just spicy. They go for flavor and not heat because they want to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Not Dagoba. They went for spice and heat and they got them both.
Ok, so I’ve addressed the flavor, now I need to address my usual gripe with Dagoba. The wrapper says nibs. Half way through the bar I have encountered two nibs that I have noticed. As they tend to be nice and crunchy in the midst of the chocolate I would think that I would notice them. The worst part is that the two nibs were virtually right on top of each other. This is such a weakness in the Dagoba bars I’ve tried. If there are supposed to be nuts or nibs or rice crispies there are one or two through the entire bar. I was all excited for nibs and it took half a bar to get nib one. Honestly, they could take a hint from Choxie on this one. The Choxie bar was buried in nibs. The Xocolatl? Not so much.
In the end, It’s a great bar with a unique flavor and a lot more spice and heat than I’ve had in my chocolate before. But where are my nibs? I want my nibs! I’m withholding points because I was promised nibs and received almost none. Grrr… If there were more nibs I would go 8.75 or maybe even 9. As things stand I can’t go above an 8. I really like the flavors in it and I like the surprise burn but the big fat negative impression of the anti-nibbiness of the bar just has me irked.