Monday, May 17, 2010

Lotte "Beauty Life" Sugar-free Biscuit Chocolate

Sugarless chocolate is pretty hard to come by in Japan. You can find some types of sugar-free treats, gum and hard candy mostly, but chocolate is relatively rare. I think the Japanese take the common sense approach to sweets. Either you can have them in their full form, or you can't have them at all. People with diabetes or conditions which may require them to limit sugar consumption are largely out of luck.

This Zero chocolate has been around for a long time, though not in this packaging. I remember buying it at least 7 years ago in its plain chocolate form and not being overly impressed. For the record, I don't have a health condition that makes me want to limit sugar, but I am completely aware of two points about it which affect everyone. First, it is bad for your teeth. Second, eating sugar causes a spike and a crash so that you feel energized then very tired. Occasionally, it is nice to have a sweet and not concern oneself with these points, but there is always a price to pay in taste.

Sugar, like salt, has particular flavor aspects. There is an edge to the taste of sweets made with sugar much as there is one to foods made with salt. You can sense its absence, even when artificial sweetener is present and simulates its sweetness. That edge is absent in chocolates like Zero, and that's why they are not as good as the real thing even when they have cocoa butter and sufficient fat to emulate the real deal.When I first sampled Zero a long time ago, I noticed this flat taste, and experienced a strong bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. It was the strongest Japanese chocolate aftertaste that I'd ever experienced and literally left a bad taste in my mouth.

I decided to give this chocolate another chance when I saw the repackaged "biscuit crunch" version at Tomod's drug store. Note that this chocolate is generally more expensive than that with sugar. It's around 150 yen ($1.60) for 5 sticks that are each 10 grams (.35 oz.), each stick is 8.5 cm x 1.7 cm (3.3 in. x .67 in.). Each stick has 42 calories.

There isn't much of an aroma to this chocolate. I think it may actually have some sort of sealant to make the little bars shinier. The flavor is very intensely bittersweet chocolate which is quite sweet; you can tell it's made with artificial sweetener, but it's not really bad. It's just different. The chocolate is with crispy bits of cookie. The cookie doesn't taste like anything, but makes for a more interesting texture. I would definitely prefer the cookie version of this to the regular version.

This was good, and I'd buy it again if I were in the mood to spare myself the effects of sugar. I can't strongly recommend it for everyone, but if you want to have a sweet and avoid sugar, this is pretty good. Keep in mind that sugar-free doesn't translate into low calorie. This is actually pretty much as fattening as any sort of chocolate, but it just won't up your blood sugar levels.

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