I only recently discovered that two companies in Scotland are making “haggis spice” chocolate; dark chocolate mixed with some of the (non-meat) ingredients of haggis. Science demands a taste test!
The bar on the left is from Coco, a chocolatier based in Edinburgh. The one on the right is sold by Chocolate Tree, a different chocolatier found in Haddington, to the East of Edinburgh. They’re both dark chocolate, with 64% and 58% cocoa solids relatively, so there shouldn’t be a huge difference in fundamental nature. The Coco version is labelled as suitable for vegans, while the Chocolate Tree one “may contain traces of dairy and nuts” as they're used in the same place. However, it doesn't explicitly include any non-vegan ingredients.
Interestingly, although both bars are meant to evoke haggis, different haggis recipes vary, and so it is with these bars. The only seasonings both have in common are – salt and pepper! The Coco bar also includes clove, nutmeg and allspice. Chocolate Tree’s bar, on the other hand, includes rosemary, coriander seed, mace and thyme. For anyone expecting spice to mean chilli – no, sorry, that’s not what haggis is about (at least now that Nahm-Jim is no more). It’s a milder spice experience.
Both bars have a similar aroma, though the Chocolate Tree bar’s scent is stronger and more exciting.
On price, the Coco bar is £4.00, while the Chocolate Tree bar is £3.50.
The Coco Haggis Spice chocolate is smooth and has a distinctly dark chocolaty taste. The spicing is subtle; after eating several pieces I noticed a slightly warm after-feel, but it wasn’t a major part of the initial taste. In fact apart from the dark chocolate taste, the main thing I got was the odd salt crystal. The salt did seem to act as a bit of a nucleus, so that was the most interesting bit, but for the Coco Haggis Spice bar I would say the emphasis was on salted chocolate bar, with haggis spice rather soft-pedalled.
The Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice chocolate gives an immediate hit of spices, unhampered by a milder chocolate. I’m confident I can detect the rosemary and coriander seed. I’m less confident of my ability to distinguish mace and thyme anyway, so that’s OK. Maybe a more sophisticated reviewer would get those too. I also get occasional salt, though the salt’s contribution is much lower-key than in the Coco bar. Finally the Chocolate Tree bar gets extra brownie points because 8% of the bar is pinhead oats. That’s enough to give a little bit of random texture to nibble on, and a little bit of flavour; and of course oats are a key ingredient of haggis so it’s entirely appropriate.
I didn’t expect a big difference between these bars, but I was surprised. The Coco bar is a perfectly good chocolate bar and in isolation you would not feel disappointed about having bought it. If chocolate is what you’re really looking for, with a hint of something else, then it may be the one for you. For me though, the Chocolate Tree bar was a clear winner: nice chocolate, distinctive spiced flavour, pinhead oats for added interest, and finally- it is just a little bit reminiscent of haggis (in a good way – sorry if you find that hard to imagine!)
The Coco Haggis Spice bar is OK. But I would actually recommend going out of your way to try the Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice bar as it’s a bit special. The only thing I can find to complain about is that I ordered a different bar at the same time, and that one was past its best before date when it reached me (the Haggis Spice has a year to run). The bar’s fine, but it does just give me a little pause over customer service. I would ignore that though, and try the Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice.