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Michel Cluizel - beyond price, is it all that


dejaq
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I don't know if anyone has had a first hand in having a Cluizel demo, but today our chef, myself and a few others were really blown away by some of the varieties including their 99%. The complexity of the couvertures, the finish esp. is what struck us, full bodied, complicated- amazing! The 45% milk doesn't even taste like milk, the 50% milk tastes more like dark. truly, the chef has thrown FC to the wind, with Barry running at about $4.00/# Felchlin at $6.00/# and Cluizel at nearly $10.00/#, I am not complaing on our exec's insistance on using one of the best couvertures out there, Valrhona as mentioned previously, was an analog to a Maybach, perhaps Cluizel is more akin to a Bugatti.

Thoughts on psychotically priced very good chocolate?

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I'm ok with psychotically priced very good chocolate for eating as is, I'm not so inspired to spend that kind of money for chocolate to go in things. I kinda hate admitting that, I'd like to say I'm fully committed to the idea of buying super expensive stuff to make a cake or mousse, but the fact is I just can't justify it. Maybe I'm not giving deserved credit to my customers but I really can't picture any of them tasting a mousse made with Callebaut and saying "That was good but if you'd used the Cluizel it would have been great". But just to sit around and munch on, I'm with you on that.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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ABSOLUTELY worth it as long the flavor of the chocolate will shine through directly in the final product, i.e. ganache, mousse, etc... though Felchlin's origin couvertures are truly excellent for the price. I would not limit myself to a single manufacturer, however, as different chocolates befit different scenarios.

Formerly known as "Melange"

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So am I wrong in my thinking? I don't want to shortchange anybody so maybe I'll have to do some blind tasting experiments on some unsuspecting chocolate lovers. I'm not suggesting that there isn't a difference, just that the difference becomes less distinct the more other ingredients/flavors you pile on top of the chocolate and may not be noticed by the average person munching down their dessert and not thinking about how much I paid for the chocolate in it. I guess what I'm getting at is that I'll gladly pay double for something that tastes much better but I won't gladly pay double just to put a fancy name on the menu that nobody will notice in the final product. Looks like I have some testing to do.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I sell MC as my primary good chocolate v. El Rey for my standard (I'm talking bars not couv). Since I get it at cost, I can use it anyway I want. However, I find that MC is wasted in certain creations. I've tried it in Ling's brownies...lost. I've tried it in mousses...mostly lost. But, every time I've picked the right MC and featured it as a distinct flavor - not just chocolate, its been a hit. So, I do think you're in the right mindset. If I were a professional pastry chef, I would probably not be using MC as it would not be appreciated enough to justify cost. If I were a chocolatier, then it would be a great option if, again, properly paired. But, just my 2 cents.

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I really enjoy a good bar of Valrhona, Felchlin, Cluizel or any other good name for eating by itself. I also think its fine to use these fantastic chocolates if you're making chocolates with very few ingredients (ie., a plain dark ganache) and, probably, more for dark chocolates than milk. If more ingredients are being added (especially for baking or creamy desserts) I'm really not sure the flavour profile transfers across to the dessert.

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The key really is not the number of ingredients, but whether or not the specific piece is geared towards showcasing the chocolate over the paired ingredient. Again, components like ganache and mousse can convey the subtleties of excellent chocolate (in some cases more so than eating the chocolate alone); baked items generally cannot. If you are willing to rework recipes when necessary to ensure that you are focusing on those individual chocolates (I'm guessing that you are), and if a reasonable portion of your customer base will "get it", go for it.

Formerly known as "Melange"

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Not being a pro, let me say that for home quantities of baking I'd always use Valrhona over Callebaut, and really notice the difference. I haven't had Cluizel, so I can't tell if the added cost would pay off in flavor, but the jump from Callebaut to Valrhona sure does.

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I am going to post a "showdown" review in a new thread as soon as a garner up a few contenders on this. I want to throw Callebaut's single orgin chocolates into the mix as well. Think of it as a practical approach to a testing and development platform on only single orgin chocolates free of subjectivity and opinion. There are subtle differnces in these products and I do honestly think it goes beyond brand name. So much of it has to do with formulas, growth and cultivation, where it's grown, and of course how it's processed. Maybe it's my tastes, but I along with others yesterday could taste the difference.

Give me a few weeks though, I am going to have to special order some of these from American Gourmet.

Michael

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I almost fell over the first time I bit into some Cluizel. My heart has always belonged to Valrhona, but, the Los Ancones (sp?) bar that I had was like nothing else. If I were richer, I'd bake with it. As it is, Valrhona is about my upper limit for what to put in cakes and terrines. Much of the time I go cheaper, with bulk chocolate from Callebaut, El Rey, or something similar. There is a pronounced difference between these and the Valrhona, so I have little doubt there'd be a noticeble difference with the Cluizel. Only question is how much you're willing to pay for it.

edited to add: I haven't tried Callebaut's single origin chocolates, only their basic unsweetened, and 70% and 60-something percent bittersweets.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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So I guess a Cluizel cake with an Amadei Porcelana mousse filling and a Patric buttercream should be pretty good then? :raz:

Yeah, I'm being a smartass but I really am interested in this topic. I'm going to do some tastings in the near future. I'll let my customers and friends decide if I should be spending more on the chocolate I use. It will be an interesting test for them as well because the Callebaut and Valrhona I order in are miles above anything you can buy locally.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It's one of those cases where getting something that's 20% better might cost twice as much. How much $$$ is too much comes down to personal taste and personal bank accounts.

I think that may be the line I'm talking about. For my personal taste and personal bank account, paying more for something a little better is worth it. But at work it's not just my bank account I'm working with so there has to be some tangible evidence that the difference in cost is worth it to the customers. It's all well and good that I can taste the 20% improvement and feel it's worth the cost but if I don't see a 20% improvement in the smiles on people's faces when they eat it then I can't justify the expense to those who help pay the bills. I'm in an area where Hershey, Nestle and Bakers are all you can buy and most places buy in their desserts from Sysco (some even try to claim they don't buy them in, which I find really funny because it's so obvious) so in-house made desserts with Callebaut and Valrhona are a significant step up in comparison. I'm just not sure that extra 20% would carry through to the customer base here, especially with the price increase that would have to come with it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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So am I wrong in my thinking? I don't want to shortchange anybody so maybe I'll have to do some blind tasting experiments on some unsuspecting chocolate lovers.

Great idea! Obviously unblinded comparisons are not terribly useful, since it is well-established that products perceived as prestigious or expensive or rare are usually rated higher in such tests. Another idea, which might seem like blasphemy to a chocophile, is that all those subtle, complex flavors in an expensive chocolate -- blackberry or coffee or what-have-you-- are not actually considered desirable qualities by some people. Some people really do prefer a plain-jane, Swiss Miss chocolate flavor.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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So am I wrong in my thinking? I don't want to shortchange anybody so maybe I'll have to do some blind tasting experiments on some unsuspecting chocolate lovers.

Great idea! Obviously unblinded comparisons are not terribly useful, since it is well-established that products perceived as prestigious or expensive or rare are usually rated higher in such tests. Another idea, which might seem like blasphemy to a chocophile, is that all those subtle, complex flavors in an expensive chocolate -- blackberry or coffee or what-have-you-- are not actually considered desirable qualities by some people. Some people really do prefer a plain-jane, Swiss Miss chocolate flavor.

My thoughts exactly...I'm hoping dejaq makes it a blind test. Can;t wiat for the results.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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So am I wrong in my thinking? I don't want to shortchange anybody so maybe I'll have to do some blind tasting experiments on some unsuspecting chocolate lovers.

Great idea! Obviously unblinded comparisons are not terribly useful, since it is well-established that products perceived as prestigious or expensive or rare are usually rated higher in such tests. Another idea, which might seem like blasphemy to a chocophile, is that all those subtle, complex flavors in an expensive chocolate -- blackberry or coffee or what-have-you-- are not actually considered desirable qualities by some people. Some people really do prefer a plain-jane, Swiss Miss chocolate flavor.

My thoughts exactly...I'm hoping dejaq makes it a blind test. Can;t wiat for the results.

Rest assured it couldn’t truly be objective without taking the brand mark out of the equation. In a few weeks let’s see, as soon as my purveyors pull in the products from Pennsauken, we will put these single origin contenders to the test.

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I did a short review of some chocolates a couple of weeks ago, including the 99% from Michel Cluizel.

Blood Sugar - Chocolate review

I was massively surprised by it actually. 99%, you expect it to be unbearably bitter, almost inedible, but infact the finish and flavour is so pure and "chocolately".

Please take a quick look at my stuff.

Flickr foods

Blood Sugar

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I did a short review of some chocolates a couple of weeks ago, including the 99% from Michel Cluizel.

Blood Sugar - Chocolate review

I was massively surprised by it actually. 99%, you expect it to be unbearably bitter, almost inedible, but infact the finish and flavour is so pure and "chocolately".

agreed, the 99% has enough of a kick to launch an inter continental ballistic missile of the pad. My first experience with it was about three years ago, very small bar, at retail, about three dollars. The perfect pick me up, but for others that have tried it-an acquired taste to be certain.

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Just an update:

I am still waiting for Callebaut / Barry samples from American to come in. I told my rep to also throw into the mix whatever Valrhona single orgins they are stocking as well.

Chocovic’s rep came in earlier in the week and presented us with the three single origins along with their other supported lines they are stocking: my initial comments on those can be found on my blog below. Apparently Bulli is using Chocovic exclusively.

The expo “Battle of the Pods” should be sometime mid December, stay tuned…

Michael

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By the way, how are you getting Cluizel for $10/lb? Is this in huge bulk quantities?

At Chocosphere it's $17/lb in 2Kg blocks; $16/lb in 5Kg blocks.

If I could get it for $10 I'd bathe in it.

You can get Cluizel direct from the distributor for under $10/lb for relatively small bulk quantities. I bought 88 lbs and including warm weather shipping it cost me $8.75/lb. And you could probably get near that price at 44 lbs.

http://uk.cluizel.com/chocolatier/Retailers/48.html

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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We are also working with a distributor. he is located in VA, but they distribute out of NJ. for a 5kg box we paid 105.00 which comes out to about 9.55/pound.

the reps name is Henri Ettedgui and he may be reached at

henryettedgui@comcast.net

Great tip, thanks.

At some point I might team up with some other NYC chocolate lunatics and split a 5kg box.

Notes from the underbelly

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