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Home / Doug's Chocolate Republic  /   Review: Whittaker's Milk Madagascar

Whittaker's Milk Madagascar 
Posted: 24 July 2011    7.5 
Whittaker's Milk Madagascar Milk Madagascar is the better of Whittaker's two milk bars. The taste is sharper and more distinctive. But I suppose, in the end, it all comes down to preferences. Are Ethiopian coffee beans better than Vietnamese? Is Robert De Niro a better actor than Al Pacino? One may not be, per se, better than the other. Each just has different character.  The Milk Madagascar, while tasty, is, at the end of the day, a Whittaker's marketing gimmick.  
Avg price/gram: USD 0.018   Cocoa %: 33  Size: 250g  New Zealand chocolate 

By this time, I've reviewed so many Whittaker's bars, I should be made an honorary employee.  The truth of the matter is that Whittaker's doesn't really give a s--t what I say.   When I e-mailed them some less-than-flattering comments about their atrocious rum and raisin bar, I got back a polite "Thank you for your interest in our chocolate" response.  I seriously doubt anything was seriously changed with that one.  The formula has since been revised to 50% cocoa solids, with slightly less sugar, but based on the photographs Aussie Dave sent me of his recent taste experiment, the bar didn't appear to be a true reformulation. Sounds exactly like our politicians. Names change but nothing much else does. 

Around the same time I was nearly killed eating Whittaker's rum and raisin, Aussie Dave sent me Whittaker's Creamy Milk.  It was a decent milk chocolate bar, 33% cocoa solids, 30% milk solids.  I recall commenting that the bar tasted like it was missing something.  The taste was good, not great.   The Creamy Milk was like the Dark Ghana in this respect.  Each bar was a decent base and would be complemented by the addition of nuts or fillings. 

Whittaker's is quite unique as a manufacturer in that they make two types of milk chocolate bars, both with identical cocoa solid and milk solid content. Creamy Milk uses cocoa beans from Ghana, a mainstream provider of cocoa beans worldwide.  The second bar, the Milk Madagascar, has beans sourced from Indonesia.   Okay, I am just checking to see if you're really paying attention.  With a name like Milk Madagascar, where do you think the beans come from?            

Ivory Coast and Ghana, the #1 and #2 cocoa producers worldwide, respectively, are bulk bean producers.  That Hershey bar or Cadbury bar you just ate, the beans likely came from one of those two countries.   These are deep, classic flavor cacao beans.   Madagascar, on the other hand, producers flavor beans known more for their light citrus flavors and natural sweetness. It's not a large cacao-producing nation and produces less than 1% of world supply, so it's rare.  Whittaker's would have a difficult time using Malagasy beans as the base for most of their milk chocolate bars.     

Milk Madagascar is the better of Whittaker's two milk bars.  The taste is sharper and more distinctive.  But I suppose, in the end, it all comes down to preferences.   Are Ethiopian coffee beans better than Vietnamese?  Is Robert De Niro a better actor than Al Pacino?  One may not be, per se, better than the other.  Each just has different character.  It doesn't look as if Whittaker's is using a completely different recipe for each milk chocolate bar.  The beans and the way they're roasted is the difference.      

The Milk Madagascar, while tasty, is, at the end of the day, a Whittaker's marketing gimmick.   Chocolate connoisseurs know Madagascar is a source for very flavorful beans.  For that reason, when Malagasy beans are used in a bar, they're used to an extent that their flavors are obvious.  There are two bean-to-bar manufacturers in Madagascar as of this writing, Chocolaterie Robert and Cinagra.  While Robert does have a 34% milk, all of Robert's other (non-white) chocolate offerings exceed 47%.  Its two latest offerings contain 61% and 68% cocoa solids.   Cinagra's lightest is 38%.  The bulk of Cinagra's products contain between 55% and 100% cocoa solids.

Now if native Malagasy manufacturers are going mainly dark with beans they get just down the street, how does it make sound sense that Whittaker's is going light with their only bar utilizing rare Malagasy beans?  Valrhona's Manjari uses Madagascar beans, but Valrhona is smart enough to make that a 64% bar.   If Whittaker's is going to feature a Madagascar bar in its product lineup, it would be a more beneficial and unique taste experience to have done so in a Dark Madagascar (72%, to contrast it with their Dark Ghana) vs a Milk Madagascar.  Using rare Malagasy beans in a milked down bar is tantamount to using rare grapes in a grape sugared beverage that contains 10% real grape juice.  There's not enough of the special ingredient to make a real difference. 

If you liked reading this, consider savoring these reviews:
 Whittaker Peanut Slab from New Zealand -- 33% cocoa solids
 Valrhona Manjari from France -- 64% cocoa solids
 The Complete Chocolate Republic Index

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Fascinating Ideas You Could Care Less About

  Whittaker's from New Zealand makes milk chocolate in New Zealand. It's a New Zealad bean to bar. Their New Zealand chocolate contains 33% cocoa and 30% milk solids and its Milk Madagascar has Malagasy beans in it. The Chocolate Republic with Doug at Doug's Republic doesn't need to journey to Porirua taste their milk chocolate from Madagascar.