I have taken it upon myself to test and compare the chocolate and confections commonly found in French grocery stores for you, my dear readers. Enjoy this guide to 4€ well spent. Recognition must be given to my boyfriend who has sacrificially helped me try many different chocolates over the last few months.
Before beginning this journey, I was not aware of the various "collections" available from Lindt. There are different distinctions written on the packaging like: EXCELLENCE, LINDOR, CREATION, CONNAISSEURS, RECETTE ORIGINALE, LES GRANDES.
The least expensive and least interesting lines are the "original recipe," "Lindor," and "excellence." These are the lines you will find most often in the states. They are the traditional, plain dark and milk chocolates with infusions or small twists.
The "Creation" line are thin bars of dark or milk chocolate with soft fillings that range from typical praline to whipped fruit fondant. They are made in indented molds for easy breaking and each tab is a generous bite.
Naturally, the best line is the most expensive line: "Connaisseurs." These are thicker bars with no lines to indicate where one should break or how much is a serving. Obviously, this is fantastic, because it is pretty clear to me that one bar is one serving, right? The bars in this line are filled with thick pralines and caramel fondants. You cannot go wrong here.
Rocher Noir is a nod to a classic French confection. Rocher means "rock" or "boulder" and the mixture of almonds with chocolate piled into a mound is often referred to this way. This particular member of the Creation line comes in dark or milk chocolate and deserves a good report as a yummy bar for the price.
Coulis de Chocolat was a bit of a disappointment. The filling was more sugary than chocolatey and the texture was off.
Passion Frappée is supposed to be served straight out of the refrigerator, which I did not realize before tasting it. It was unpleasant and tasted fake. After storing in the refrigerator it was slightly more palatable, but mostly because the chill took some of the flavor away.
Praliné Façon À L'Ancienne was pretty delicious and full of hazelnut flavor. It is part of the connaisseurs line and I am fairly certain that this flavor is unavailable in the states.
Passionnment Fondant Noir is pretty similar to some Lindt varieties you can find in the USA. It is a good staple. This one is not overdone and you will not be disappointed, especially if you eat it slightly above room temperature.
Délice Pistache was not particularly délice-ious. As is usually the complaint of my resident pistachio specialist, the filling tasted more of almond than of pistachio and green food coloring must have been used.
Praliné Feuilleté is in the running for my favorite bar in the "Creation" collection. The texture is perfectly crispy and the nutty praline really stands up to the chocolate.
Opéra is inspired by the impressive, multi-layered French cake made with coffee. The bar was a nice homage to the pastry, but still does not measure up to anything in the "connaisseurs" collection.
Truffe Craquante was crunchy, as advertised. However, perhaps it was a little too heavy on the orange flavor.
Praliné Feuillantine wins. It is probably the favorite of each one of my team of experts. Sure, it is not made with Valrhona's praline paste, but who can afford that anyway?
This brand is certainly not on the same level as Lindt, but several of their offerings are pretty good, plus they are decidedly less expensive. They are also rolling out a line of organic chocolate bars.
Truffé Noir is light and easy to eat, as chocolate should be. What is chocolate if it's not easy to eat? There is not any real intensity in this bar, but it is a nice sweet treat.
Praliné Intense Noir was heavy on the nuts if a bit too sweet. Not a bad afternoon snack. Ignore my empty box of Kinder Chocofresh...
Fin Noir Orange was not delicious. The little bits of orange were unpleasant and abundant.
Mousse au Chocolat Noir circling back to Lindt...was another one of those ho-hum tablets that is best enjoyed as an afternoon snack.
Here is a brand readily available at each "Bio" or organic market in Paris. The prices are a little higher as you are paying for the organic-ness, but overall I would say it is worth the money. They even offer couverture chocolate for professional use.
70% Cacao was a great first selection and I look forward to trying more of their bars.
Also tried, and recommended: Creme Brulee, Noir Fleur de Sel, Chocoletti, Kinder Bueno, Milka Triple Chocolat, Bloc Chocolat, Praline
Let me know in the comments if there are other brands and flavors I should have tried!