If there is one thing you need to know about me before diving head first into reading this posts, it's that I have the biggest sweet tooth. So give me the opportunity to try out a new brand and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to grab it with open arms (and a growling belly).
Offering a range of delicious dark chocolate, MIA (Made In Africa) 'works in collaboration with local communities and craftspeople in Africa to discover the best ingredients...' The ethos of the company is really admirable, operating a bean-to-bar production and adopting a '1 For Change' scheme that 'ensures 1% of all MIA sales are dedicated to development projects in places where a little goes a long way.'
I was very kindly sent three bars from the MIA range to try - the Coconut (which is 65% cocoa), 75% Cocoa & 100% Cocoa. Pretty much straight away I knew I couldn't just eat them all - I love me some chocolate but 100% cocoa is just a little too dark for me. So instead I decided to sample a little of each bar, but put the darkest two to one side and use them to get my bake on and whip up some chocolate chip cookies for Ryan and I to share.
But before we get on to the flavour we need to talk about the packaging. Aren't these just the prettiest, most sophisticated bars of chocolate you've ever seen? From the glittering gold accents to the complementing colour choices for the typography, the MIA packaging is a really sophisticated in an understated way. I love the way each bar has its own individual colour scheme, meaning they are easily identifiable if you are reaching for a particular one in the fridge. Instead of having an outer wrapper you have to tear open, there is a outer cardboard shell you can pop open and then a sealed inner wrapper. Ive never seen anything like this before but it really adds a unique touch to the brand that makes it seem a lot more exclusive - an element I personally really appreciate.
The bar itself is also pretty unique. Instead of your run-of-the-mill squares, the MIA chocolate bars are shaped in a way that directly mirrors the packaging - four outer triangles and then a bigger slab in the middle. It's a really cool concept and sets the brand apart from others.
So on to the flavour. MIA do not mess around when it comes to flavour. Each bar is velvety smooth, rich and creamy, packing a real punch that sets your taste buds tingling. When it comes to the dark chocolate with coconut, the shavings are incredibly delicate, adding just a subtle hint of coconut flavour that works really well alongside the chocolate. The 75% cocoa was at the top of my intensity limits but still enjoyable and hitting the spot when it comes to sweetness. A little bit goes a long way so if you really need just a little something to satisfy a craving, this bar would really be your best friend. I did try a little nibble of the 100% prior to using it for baking and it was unlike any other chocolate I'd tried before. Far too intense for me to be able to eat but the richness made it perfect to have to hand to use in cakes and bakes.
It has been a long time since I put on my apron, rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in to some cookie making, but having such beautiful chocolate to use made the idea so much more appealing. Considering myself a cook rather than a chef I pulled up a quick cookie recipe online to follow, pulled out my mixing bowl and got to work, using a little of the 75% dark chocolate and the whole 100% bar for the biscuits.
The chocolate was perfect to bake with. The intensity of the bars worked so well as chocolate chips, melted down smoothly and added a hint of bitterness to the sweet cookie batter. These were one of the best batches I've ever made and I attribute that to the quality of the MIA chocolate. The chunks stayed soft and gooey even after the biscuits had completely cooled and meant they kept that melt-in-the-mouth quality.
MIA is some of the best quality chocolate I have ever tried. They deliver more than just dark chocolate. Each bar has multiple layers of flavour that subtly reveal themselves as you eat. The bars are a little more on the premium end when it comes to price but I think you really are getting what you pay for - big flavours, good quality chocolate and a company that is passionate about supporting African communities (read more about the MIA story here).
With a range of different flavours to choose from, what are you waiting for? Head over to the MIA website, take a peek for yourself and let me know which bars catch your eye in the comments below!