One evening I grabbed my bike and pedaled with the fury of a woman craving chocolate to Simply Keto cafe in Mitte, Berlin. I got lost on the way and feared I wouldn’t make it in time, but I arrived 5 minutes before closing. Simply Keto has four shelves worth of low-carb chocolate so I rapidly and randomly snatched a few bars and ended up with five bars from Spanish brands Torras and Blanxart, and five from German brands Xucker and Oh! Lecker. Without realizing it, I had organized my own world cup match between low-carb chocolates!
From Torras, I tried the dark chocolate, the dark with forest fruits, milk chocolate and milk chocolate with almonds. The dark with forest fruits was the most satisfying of the flavors because of the balance between the slightly bitter chocolate and the sweet fruit. Both milk versions were good and, having a big sweet tooth, I ate a piece of the dark before eating them to maximize their sweetness. The one Blanxart bar I’d selected was the darkest (85%) I’ve ever tried and contained cacao nibs and stevia (a sweetener that I am not a fan of), so I was actually a little afraid! Not only was the bar’s bitterness palpable but the cocoa nibs added an enjoyable crunch. In fact, I plain to use cacao nibs as a chocolate chip replacement in desserts or to add some fun to my low-carb shakes.
The three chocolate bars I tried from Xucker—milk chocolate, milk with hazelnuts and dark chocolate—are sweetened with Xylitol, my favorite sweetener, and hence lack the cooling effect of the Torras’ bars. Even the 75% was really good. And of the two bars from Oh! Lecker, a lesser known brand that was new to me, the 72% manadarin flavor (normally my favorite flavor) sweetened with stevia was too bitter and dry; the 40% was better but still unusually dry.
So, for this first round of the chocolate World Cup, Germany won, and Xucker in particular for taste (and the bonus of affordability) though obviously only a few of each country’s players (brands and flavors) were in the match! Time, budget and space in my bike bag kept me from trying them all, including the white chocolate varieties, but you can bet I’ll be going back.
Maybe it’s not surprising that Germany won. Little did I know but Germany is the world’s number one producer of chocolate! As of 2016, 17 per cent of chocolate exports came from Germany, followed by Belgium and then the Netherlands: Spain did not make it into the top 10 (Switzerland was 10th). And while the Swiss consume the most chocolate per capita (just under 20 lbs a year) Germany is not far behind with an annual consumption per capita of 17.4 lbs. So while we normally don’t associate Germany with chocolate, in reality it’s quite a different story.