When you hear the phrase "European Chocolate", what country do you think about? Belgium comes to mind easily, as does France and Switzerland. Spanish chocolate carries a somewhat different connotation.
However, many other European countries make chocolates - including those not conventionally thought of as chocolate makers. I took a sampling from four locations, and conducted blind taste tests. I chose bars that were specifically just labeled dark chocolate, no inclusions, and were sampled at room temperature with sips of water. Tasters came to remarkably similar conclusions.
|Wedel, from Poland. Dark, rich, complex, this chocolate's flavor evolves as it melts on the tongue.|
|Ülker, from Turkey. More bitter notes suggest the inclusion of coffee, but surprisingly enjoyable.|
The Polish and Turkish chocolates were consistently ranked on top, often changing spots depending on the taster, but they definitely were considered head and shoulders above the other two.
|Dorina, from Croatia|
|Laima, from Latvia - a remarkably sweet bar for being dark chocolate.|
The lower ranked chocolates, from Croatia and Latvia, were not inherently poor chocolates, but when tasted alongside the other two, highlighted their poor notes. Laima, in particular, was chided for tasting almost like milk chocolate.
These bars are usually more affordable than their more famous Swiss or Belgian brethren. Enjoy - Poland, in particular, has a long history of chocolate making, with competition between the Wedel and Wawel factories.