Thursday, December 25, 2008

Super Size Ghana Special Holiday Bar

The box says, "creamy milk and the richness of cacao, new standard chocolate." (You can click any picture to see a larger version with more detail.)

Around this time of year, confectioners in Japan start super sizing their core candy products. You can get super sized Pocky, Crunky, and Ghana bars among other things. My husband and I had never purchased one of these monster confections until now. He selected the Ghana bar because, as a solid chocolate bar, it has the greatest long term eating potential and can be used for baking in a pinch.

The super size bars are available at this time mainly to offer as Christmas or (more commonly) New Years gifts for kids. However, one of my students who has a birthday in December was given one so sometimes young adults give them to each other. Personally, I think these would make a great group souvenir of a trip to Japan to share with your entire office if you happen to be in Japan during the limited time they are offered. You could also set them aside for a friend or loved one who has particularly severe depression or PMS issues. There's enough chocolate here to see them through an entire month of difficulty (as well as add a pound and a half to their body weight).

Though I haven't reviewed Ghana bars before, they are not new to me. You can buy normal (about the size of a Hershey's chocolate bar) Ghana for a bargain price in many supermarkets. One close to me regularly sells them for 88 yen (97 cents) each, which is about 12 yen (13 cents) cheaper than similar basic milk chocolate bars of the same size. This big bar costs about 800 yen ($8.79) and pretty much is roughly equal in volume to 8 smaller bars so it's not cheap, but it's also not priced at a premium.

The box is 30 cm (11.8 in.) long and 14.5 cm (5.7 in.) wide and has a snowflake design on it to make sure you know its a winter holiday gift. A regular Ghana box is entirely red with the logo in the middle. The chocolate is packed in an unassuming foil pouch. I'm guessing this is to keep it fresh for a long time. My bar's expiration date is September of 2009.

The chocolate bar is divided into 20 individual blocks. Each block is 4.5 (1.8 in.) by 2.3 to 2.5 cm (.90-.98 in.) in size. The side pieces are bigger than the inner blocks. If you had kids and they were supposed to share this bar, they'd be fighting over the bigger pieces at the edges. Each block is 84 calories. If you went insane and gobbled it all down, you'd be putting away 1,680 calories from the entire huge bar.

Ghana chocolate smells mildly of chocolate. These thick blocks are a little tough to bite through compared to the normal thin bars that are available year round, but I have to admit that I have a weak bite. The chocolate flavor is subdued at first, but becomes rich and deep as it melts in your mouth. It doesn't seem too sweet at first, but the sweetness builds up as you roll it around on your tongue. The chocolate itself seems to lack depth. You don't pick out any deeper flavors like coffee, nuts or any fruity notes. It's very fatty chocolate with a good portion of cocoa butter, so it's quite satisfying, but it is the sort of chocolate that is well-suited to the palates of children and those who like sweet chocolate that doesn't have a very strong milky taste.

Comparing a basic chocolate like Ghana to Hershey's in America and Cadbury in the U .K., I'd say that Hershey's has sour, yogurt-like flavor and has a chalkier texture and Cadbury is much milkier. The odd thing about Ghana to me is how the sweetness and basic chocolate flavor come through so strongly without the sort of heavy milky flavor that seems so common in other milk chocolate bars. Ghana has more of a "hot cocoa" which is made in part with water taste than a "hot chocolate" flavor which is made with 100% milk. It's good chocolate, but it's different from what you might expect back home.


Marble choco (マーベルチョコ) Santa dispenser wishes you a "Happy Merry X-mas", because it's not enough to just be "merry" or "happy". You must be both.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I hope you have a beautiful holiday and can relax with friends and loved ones. Thank you for reading. It's very appreciated.


Sharon said...

Unfortunately, Hershey's has changed the makeup of their core chocolate products to give them a longer shelf life/ship them in hot climates. Their main processing center for making the kisses in particular was moved to Mexico, and they added additional wax to compensate for the change. This means they no longer melt in your mouth at all, and have (in my opinion) even less taste and a different texture.

ebidebby said...

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Kelly said...

Wow! A whopping 30cm's wide!! That's huge!! Is it very heavy?

How much was it for one of those big blocks?

Orchid64 said...

Kelly: The bar isn't so heavy, though I guess it's heavy for a candy bar given the size. It cost 800 yen, so it's not too expensive. It lasts a long time, at least!

Sherry said...

Does this chocolate have that heavy bitter aftertaste that so much Japanese chocolate seems to have? I am thinking specifically of Meiji but some of the other ones have it too?

Orchid64 said...

I wouldn't say it has a heavy bitter aftertaste, but I think it has a little bit of that, but it's not unpleasant at all. I didn't know that Meiji had that. I guess I should review their chocolate some time for comparison.

Sherry said...

Yes, I think the Meiji chocolate bar has a really nasty after taste. I can't eat their bars at all. If I do for some reason, I have to eat something else or go brush my teeth to get that horrible taste out of my mouth.

Maybe it is just me, but it is really horrible.

Sweet Pursuit said...

I've never had that problem with Meiji chocolate, i find it quite pleasant. In comparison, i find Hershey's to taste like vomit, and i'm yet to find that kind of taste in Japanese chocolate.

cabusi said...

I'm having a battle this weekend with my friends on who can find the best milk chocolate bar in SoCal. To this day, Lotte Ghana is my fav milk chocolate. It isn't too sweet and taste quite different from Herseys. Yes it has that hot cocoa taste that I really enjoy. Its texture is silky smooth. Best part is that it doesn't have that overkill sweetened condensed milk flavor. I highly recommend Lotte Ghana milk chocolate.