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Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares: Dark 60% Cacao

Ghirardelli seems to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately. I think of them as being primarily a baking chocolate, with their super delicious premium chocolate chips and other baking chocolate products. But I am seeing their little miniature tablets for sale in more and more places. They are sold individually in delis and at checkout stands, and collected in bags on the candy aisle.

Ghirardelli seems to be maneuvering itself into position competing with Dove for the market of "small daily indulgences." It is a robust market - just ask Starbucks. We think, "I deserve a treat! I'll buy myself a little something." But we do it daily, or multiple times a day, and the next thing you know, there goes your budget - and your waistline.

Unlike Dove chocolates, the wrappers of Ghirardelli Squares are not printed with inspirational slogans. And thank goodness for that. I can't handle the Oprah-like conviviality and empathy that oozes from the inspirational phrases they print inside Dove labels these days. ("It's never too late for a fresh start." "Count your blessings, not your worries." "Listen to your heart and dance.") I mean, honestly.

Everything about the Ghirardelli packaging is shiny. The kind I bought features a red and gold color scheme. I became briefly fascinated by the red bag. It was sparkly if you looked at it at the right angle, like the metal flake paint job on a classic car. Intriguing!

Each individual chocolate square is wrapped in what I believe is a mylar wrapping. (It's almost as sparkly as the main bag, but not quite.) This was relatively easy to open, once I figured out that it helps to follow the instructions. But it isn't recyclable, the way that a foil wrapper on (say) a Dove chocolate is.

The chocolate itself was outstanding, as good as any of the pricier brands. (Although not organic, and not fair trade.) Each square of chocolate is stamped with the Ghirardelli logo, and has a high gloss finish that seemed almost electric. Seriously, I found myself wondering if they were coating the squares with a thin holographic edible foil, if there is such a thing. These are really gorgeous candies, shiny and unblemished and rich.

The 60% cocoa is pretty mild for a dark chocolate, but it had a good bitter kick. I expect a lot of people are buying these so that they can dole out a daily dose of the antioxidants in chocolate. The higher the cacao percentage the better, for that venture. But hey, 60% is a good balance between taste and nutrition.

(See how I said all that with a straight face? Nutrition. Antioxidants. Yes, I believe they are valuable too. That is also why I drink a glass of red wine every night. For the antioxidants. It's practically health food!)

This particular variety may not satisfy the hard core dark chocolate lovers, but they will be an excellent introduction for those people who always used to pick out and discard the Hershey Special Darks from their mini bar assortments.