June 4th: Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate

Kcal 559 Fat 36.0g Carbs 52.0g (per 100.0g)

Is it me or does it seem like years ago since I last reviewed a pure milk chocolate bar? Everything I review nowadays seems to be filled with some sort of flavour enhancing filling - bacon, caramel, nuts ... you name it I have covered it. One of the key perpetrators (for loss of a better word!) when it comes to adding flavours and extra ingredients to their chocolates has to be Ritter Sport. Those with outstanding memories may recall that at the front end of 2009 I took a look at their entire plain milk chocolate range, which included a Alpine Milk, Organic and Diet offering - See HERE. Since then Ritter Sport have provided endless amounts of limited edition flavours, but more recently they have taken the time to adapt their core milk chocolate offering and have released a new bar for 2010 which I will be looking at today.

This new milk chocolate bar was sent to me in the standard 100.0g size from my contacts at Ritter in Germany and I ate it across a few sittings over the last week. On the face of things the wrapper wasn't that different to previous Ritter milk chocolate variants, with the only obvious differences being the minor changes in the blue colouring and picture placement. On closer inspection, there was some additional communication around the reformulation of the chocolate, which I will go in to in more detail later. Opening the wrapper up, the chocolate inside cut a very clean cut look, and it must be said the surface looked sharper and more shiny compared to other Ritter bars I have tried previously. In relation to aromas, the dairy scents on offer weren't anything I would say were a step change from the norm, though they did a pleasant job nonetheless of setting the mood.

I really hope Google translate is going to do me justice here, but from what I can tell the new 35% cocoa recipe combines Ritter's traditionally sourced West African cocoa with a new type of cocoa hailing from Ecuador. I'm no cocoa buff, but from the on-pack blurb and Ritter's website this was supposed to be really high quality produce, so it was always going to be interesting if this translated through to the taste. As soon as I placed the first piece in my mouth there some immediate noticeable differences from the standard milk chocolate experience that Ritter Sport deliver. The most apparent difference was the quality and pacing of the melt, which was a touch slower and thicker in viscosity, which resultingly helped the development of the flavours in the mouth. In terms of the taste the strength of both the cocoa and cream flavours seemed dialled up and most importantly increased in volume as the melt progressed. In terms of sweetness, compared to what I was used to from Ritter Sport there was less of a generic sugar emphasis, with more room given for the development of both the cocoa and cream elements. What I especially liked about this chocolate was that at the real latter stages of the melt development, the taste ended with a strong note of natural tasting vanilla, which importantly gave the chocolate a very distinctive finish.

Overall I know I say this a lot, but this really was a product that pleasantly surprised me as to how good it was. You will have seen across my many Ritter Sport reviews in the past that I have always labelled their milk chocolate as being generic tasting, and good at doing a no frills standard job. This chocolate here is evidence that the brand is really moving away from this, and are really moving in the right direction in regards to taking their milk chocolate to a new level. The better quality delivery of both flavours and textures of this new recipe, far superseeded any milk chocolate offering I have tried from them before, and I can only hope that they take this chocolate and apply it across the rest of the milk chocolate bars in their range. Being a guy that has tried hundreds (yes hundreds!) of different milk chocolates, what I always look for are ones that stand out and are distinctive in taste. Cadbury, Milka, Galaxy, Hershey, Hotel Chocolat, Zotter etc all meet that criteria (with varying success admittedly!) whereas Ritter isn't a brand I would previously have included in that category. This new recipe has opened that door for Ritter, and they deserve credit for not just settling at being average in class.

8.5 out of 10