You know, I'm sure, that chocolate has a long shelf life. So when you buy a chocolate bar whose expiration date is two months away, you know that it has been sitting on the shelf for a very long time. And you pity the lonely chocolate.
I am speaking of the Rice Milk bar from Vintage Plantations, for yes, I did enjoy their 90% bar enough that I picked up another of their products the next time I was near the same candy store. I looked past the flavored bars and thought that milk chocolate would be good this time--except that this almost is a flavored bar. It is milk chocolate made with rice milk powder instead of regular milk products. Naturally, then, the rice does add its own flavor.
As you can see, the poor chocolate does look like it's close approaching its due date. The fine face is turning white. And alas, the mouthfeel is poor. I do believe this is due to the chocolate's age and not to VP's chocolate processing methods. And if that is true, then I am all the more sad for this chocolate because, let me tell you, it smells delicious. Red and warm like rich fudge and chocolate come together, almost nutty from the rice, and just slightly sweet. It smells like a very deep milk chocolate, maybe a 46% cacao. But the thing is, I think this must be a very light milk chocolate. There is no mention of the cocoa percentage, but the only added chocolate product is cocoa butter.
Let me try to ignore the loose texture that doesn't come together in a single melting the way chocolate, under the right circumstances, does. Let's move over to flavor instead. For all my comments about the light cocoa percentage, I get a taste of cocoa nibs that usually only comes with very dark chocolate. You know, that cool blue taste that sometimes flirts with bitterness. But it isn't bitter at all here, just unexpected. Then you get in the sweetness of the sugar and vanilla. And there is the distinctive rice taste, familiar to anyone who has ever had rice milk. Or horchata. I find myself thinking of horchata after the chocolate melts; I can just picture a hint of cinnamon added in. It's a warm finish, very comforting.
I don't think I've ever had chocolate like this. It's sweet milk chocolate with every bit of cloying, greasy nonsense taken away until all you have is tender chocolate with warm flavor accents. It has as much depth as dark chocolate--well, it has even more depth than some dark chocolates. For something unique and yet also simple, this is a lovely bar of chocolate.