Tuesday, February 15, 2011
New Tree Chocolate Granola Bar
I have liked New Tree chocolate since the very first bar I found on a visit to Zabar's in New York City. The first one I tried was the Tranquility bar, which is milk chocolate and lavender (new and improved review to come soon -- but for now, my rather lame first review can be read here). I love unusual flavors and New Tree has no shortage of those. Since I started trying New Tree's chocolates, they have changed their packaging from the old heavy cardstock and rather simple drawings of the theme ingredient to a glossy, sleek photo-style envelope. And it looks like chocolate bar itself has been re-molded as well...which is yet another reason for me to redo my older reviews.
The bar I'm reviewing now is part of New Tree's expansion into healthier options that take another step into more unconventional flavor combinations. This bar, for example, boasts having antioxidants and three times the fiber (along with 30% less sugar) than its similar counterparts. And if that's not a good reason to eat chocolate, then I am just going to call it a day permanently. Other than raw fruit and veggies, that's about as close to health food as I really feel the need to get.
Anyway, New Tree's Granola bar is a 31% milk chocolate that not only features little bits of granola, but is flavored with lime and green tea as well. I love green tea with lime as a drink, but will they play well together with chocolate? I am looking forward to finding out.
I do, however, have one complaint prior to actually tasting anything. It is a minor complaint, but it irks me. While New Tree has indeed changed the exterior packaging to a more modern look -- which I really like -- the new package illustration also shows a change to the molding of the bars themselves. That's all well and good...except that the bars actually are still molded just as they were when I first tried them almost four years ago. As you can see below, the bar is broken up into smaller square tiles rather than the brand-name embossed bar portions with the jaunty little tree designs that you see on the label. I realize that's not a big deal in the grand scheme of life -- but it's not truly representative of what you're getting. It's like a chocolate version of that hot girl you meet with the seemingly titanic rack: it looks great pushing out against her shirt, until you remove said shirt and find out you got duped by a push-up bra. Yes, I know the chocolate still tastes just as good (and the girl probably does too, but that's not within the scope of this review), yet it's still a disappointment. I guess the lesson here is that, much like many other aspects of life, it is the inside and not the outside that should count. It's just that sometimes the inside has to work a little harder to win you over once the outside has let you down.
So, after all that dime-store philosophizing, how did the inside work out?
Pretty well, actually. Regardless of its molding, the little squares have a great aroma. It's zesty and floral with a nice creamy finish. And the taste is even better.
The first thing you taste is the lime. It's bright and tangy but not sour or overpowering.
I am not sure that if I didn't know this bar had green tea in it that I would have guessed exactly what I was tasting. Actually, on first taste, it reminded me of mild pepper rather than tea. Then again, it is tea extract, and I can't say I have ever tasted that before. Maybe tea extract is just peppery? (Anyone out there have information on that?) Peppery or not, though, it was quite good.
The little clumps of granola are toasty and oaty and perfectly crunchy, which adds a nice contrast to the smooth texture of the chocolate. And, speaking of the chocolate: even three-years-plus after trying it for the first time, I am still in love with it. New Tree is a Belgian company, and -- yes, I have said it before -- those people can give the Swiss a run for their money any day when it comes to making chocolate. (But neither the Belgians nor the Swiss should get too complacent, because there are plenty of other countries who want a piece of the high-end chocolate action, and some of those efforts might surprise you. For instance, I've reviewed an Icelandic chocolate that was absolutely delicious, which you can read about here. I've also reviewed a very nice assortment box from Bolivia, which you'll find here.)
The chocolate is just strong enough that the lime and the tea flavors don't run it over. There is a really rich, milky taste to it. It's definitely on the sweeter side, but I think that with the tart lime, that's for the best. I can see where the lime might be too aggressive otherwise.
It has a reasonably smooth melt -- but remember, there are the bits of granola to melt around. It's a pleasant contrast.
Bottom line: As someone who loves citrus and chocolate together, this bar was an easy winner for me. I really think lime needs to be paired with chocolate (and not white chocolate!) more often. If you should see this bar, by all means get it. You won't be sorry.
Sample from company.
170 calories per 100 grams.
Allergen info not listed.