Fortunately, the Raw Chocolate company were kind enough to send me three samples of their raw chocolate bars to try out. In order of strength, from the sweetest and closest to white chocolate to the darkest and most sensual, I received: Vanoffee, Vanoffee dark, and Pitch black.
Vanoffee is marketed as the closest thing to white chocolate which is raw, and often described as having a caramac-like flavour. Considering this association, I was quite surprised to open the packet and find a bar which looked like milk chocolate. According to the packet, the ingredients are: Cocoa butter, Lucuma (which is a kind of fruit and gives the chocolate this colour), coconut sugar, and vanilla. Not a long list of ingredients, which is definitely a plus. The Vanoffee bar doesn't really taste like white chocolate, though without this expectation in mind, it is a fantastic alternative to milk chocolate. Most raw chocolate tastes very raw, with the obvious inclusion of dates, nuts and bitter cocoa nibs (which personally I like). This bar is smooth, milky tasting and sweet, yet not sickly. It would be difficult to tell the difference between this and dairy milk chocolate, the slight hint perhaps lies in the texture. Like dark chocolate, this doesn't melt so easily in the mouth, and doesn't leave that waxy feeling on the tongue. Though not my favourite of the three, this would be a good bar to give to children as it is quite mild tasting and doesn't contain caffeine. For 44g you pay £1.99, which is quite competitive in comparison to other major bars.
The next level up in terms of strength is the Vanoffee dark, which is potentially my personal favourite. It contains essentially the same ingredients as the Vanoffee bar, with the inclusion of cocoa nibs. These really make the bar more interesting in terms of texture and depth, and provide many of the antioxidant benefits that are missing from the cocoa butter alone.
Another potential favourite of mine is the more sophisticated and intense chocolate hit, found in the pitch dark bar. Here the emphasis is on the cocoa beans, making for a more bitter bar. The ingredient list is also refreshingly short: Cocoa mass, coconut sugar, cocoa butter.
The Raw Chocolate company do not stop with milk and dark chocolate bars, there are many flavours which other natural flavourings and sweeteners like Xylitol, mint oil and orange oil. The chocolate mulberries and goji berries also look worthy of investigating. All the bars are dairy free, gluten free and vegan, and the company has an aim to be a "zero carbon company". Do check out their website. There are plenty of flavours to match your tastes, and often many deals. It's fantastic to see a company with such fantastic customer service and ethics.