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Choosing chocolate


Lior
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Inspired by Darienne's 70% question on the Greweling thread, I decided to open an issue. I know that the ganache should have less cacao butter chocolate and the enrobing chocolate should have more- or at least so I was taught or told somewhere some time. Do any of you add CB to your couverture- like to Guanaja?

I found a lot of people don't coat in high cacao percentages. Many use 55-60%. I like 64% and 70%. But then perhaps this hides some of my ganache tastes. I try to match certain fillings with certain coatings but I get confused. I guess I am not experienced enough yet. I don't know whether to enhance a ganache or to contrast it. To cut the sweetness or go along with it? My Dulce de Leche, for example. I make a layer of DDL and a layer of ganache, which I chose dark for to cut the sweetness of the DDL. Now I could have used Valrhona's Tanariva, which has a caramelly taste to enhance the DDL... WHat are your thought processes when choosing fillings and coatings? Are there any guidelines you go by?

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I like to use a very bland Couveture (aprox 64%)for my ganaches, as many of the ganaches are fruit or booze flavoured, and I want this flavour to shine through. Quite a few people in this field insist on using top quality couveture for ganaches, and the blander one for enrobing. I feel like this is the same as adding ice and coke to a single malt scotch, and drinking the "national brand" straight up....

For enrobing and molding, I like to use a good couveture (I use a Lindt Ecuador 70%). I don't usually need to thin it out with cocoa butter.

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I wonder if the taste when taking a bite- gets seperated between the ganache and the coating? I guess there is more chocolate in ganache so it would be the stronger one. But if you want the fruit to stick out, then wouldn't a fruity chocoalte enhance the ganache? I find Manjari fruity so when I make a fruity ganache I often choose Manjari. But perhaps a bland chocolate would be the thing that makes the fruit "stick out". I guess it is a matter of trial and error and then deciding what tastes best. Thanks for your ideas!

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I wonder if the taste when taking a bite- gets seperated between the ganache and the coating? I guess there is more chocolate in ganache so it would be the stronger one. But if you want the fruit to stick out, then wouldn't a fruity chocoalte enhance the ganache? I find Manjari fruity so when I make a fruity ganache I often choose Manjari. But perhaps a bland chocolate would be the thing that makes the fruit "stick out". I guess it is a matter of trial and error and then deciding what tastes best. Thanks for your ideas!

Hooray for Lior and this new topic!

My experiences have been limited. However, when I dipped pretzels...OK. I like pretzels...in 70% the result was boring. It was less boring in 56% but still lacked oomph. Then, I dipped them in milk chocolate...and I don't like milk chocolate...and voila! they were perfect. Yummm

Then with the marshmallows: orange and then raspberry...too sweet for my taste and also very intense. Wondered if anyone would eat them. Dipped them in 70% dark and perfect. My confectionary partner's birthday gift and she loved them.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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This is a great subject, and definitely something I'd like to learn more about! When I'm choosing chocolate to buy, I usually tend to choose the more pure "cocoa-ey" flavours, rather than something with a caramel flavour, for example. I'd like to experiment with different chocolates though, but like Lior I don't really know how they would best be used.

As it is, I do such a small quantity that I only ever have one or two chocolates in a suitable quantity for enrobing (because baking uses smaller amounts, I'm more likely to buy small quantities of different chocolates to use in baking). But before I enrobe something, I'll taste a small piece of the filling with one of my available chocolates to see how the flavours blend together. Does anyone else do this?

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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What a great thread and so well intoduced by Lior.

First off, if whisky and coke is not your thing, how about a vodka martini? I agree with Edward, if you are introducing strong flavours then a good quality, bland chocolate for the centre is the way to go. However if you like your vodka martini VERY dry and your ganache infusions subtle, then a fine country specific blend or estate chocolate delicately enhanced by an additional flavour (infusion/inclusion) is my choice.

Picking up on Lior's Manjari comment, I do a confection: Manjari ganache infused with freshly cut lemon verbena. It's fantastic. The obvious enrobing is Manjari, however taste panels prefer a good quality, but neutral/bland couverture for the enrobing. The best such couverture that I have found so far is Amedei's 9. A blend of nine cocoas. However be warned Amedei 9 is expensive, about $12-$15 per pound, compared to $8-$9 for a pound of Manjari.

In addition, one good quality, neutral/bland couverture for enrobing greatly simplifies production.

I found a lot of people don't coat in high cacao percentages. Many use 55-60%. I like 64% and 70%. But then perhaps this hides some of my ganache tastes.

Many chocolatiers in Europe use Valrhona's non grand cru couvertures for enrobing, such as Equatorial Noir (55%). I find these too sweet, the sweetness hiding some of the ganache taste. However, sticking with Valrhona, Guanaja (70%) is too intense, and hides some of the ganache taste. My holy grail is a good quality BLAND couverture that matches the blend characteristics of Valrhona (the chocolate I use most for my centres), but at a lower cost than Amedei 9.

Michel Cluzel's Noir de Cacao (72%) is a magnificent good quality bland couverture, but Cluzel and Valrhona don't mix.

Much more I could and will say, but in a later post.

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Wow I really enjoyed reading your comments!! I do prefer a vodka martini!! Now here I can only get Valrhona, Callebaut and Fruibel. I wish I could try other kinds!!! What percentage is Amedei 9? And it is so so true about one type of couverture- it is so difficult using 2 or 3 kinds...

There is also the issue of so called "chocolate snobs" who wouldn't dare go below the 70%. Only 70 and above is good... sigh!

I wish there were a course for this...

Thank you so so much!! :rolleyes:

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You wish there were a class...then offer one! I started offering chocolate Tasting workshops a few years ago, and I now have a flavor library of some 50-75 bars. You could do the same with couvertures, etc, and it will cultivate your customer base at the same time. I have yet to find someone from my workshops that still buys Hershey Single Origin or Lindt. They all go for the Cluizel, Patric, etc.. There are numerous "how to hold a chocolate tasting" guidelines on the web. Throw on your chef whites and you are automatically the expert. BTW, I charge $35 for mine and they last 90 minutes.

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... BTW, I charge $35 for mine and they last 90 minutes.

Wow, I've really been selling myself short at $10 per head!

Regarding enrobing; it is worth noting that products by Valrhona and others that have been formulated for coating have an extremely large quantity of cocoa butter for couverture with such a low cacao content. Beyond lowering viscosity, this reduces the amount of cacao solids that hit your tongue, heavily accentuating the interior of your piece. Presumably, your ganache is always the focus of your work.

Edited by Melange (log)

Formerly known as "Melange"

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I guess my philosophy is much more simple.

I find something cheap that tastes pretty good. For me, this is Callebaut. I tend more towards "American style" ganache where the flavor is stronger (vs. French Style where the flavor is faint). So going from '95/100' to '98/100' isn't necessarily worth it if the '98/100' chocolate is more expensive.

I use other chocolate in just two cases: guanaja for Palet d'ors, and ivoire for vanilla bean ganache.

The other thing is that 95% of my audience can't tell the difference between Callebaut and Cluzel or Valrhona or Felchlin or any of the more expensive brands. So there isn't that much point to using something better (and more $$) to impress those 5%. Most people are far more impressed that I can airbrush or spatter or paint cocoa butter than with an incrementally better chocolate.

I know that's sad for chocolate snobs, but that's what I see.

Edited by ejw50 (log)
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here's a list of what some pros use (taken from the article exposing Noka chocolate http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php?name...article&sid=83)

Info is not mine, see article for more explanations

Michael Recchiuti's -E. Guittard, El Rey, and Scharffen Berger.

La Maison du Chocolat - Valrhona exclusively.

Vosges - Valrhona, Felchlin, and Belcolade.

Jacques Torres's - Belcolade

Gale Gand's truffles at Tru Callebaut for the ganache.

Norman Love's - Felchlin

Knipschildt's - Valrhona, Belcolade, and Cluizel

MarieBelle's Valrhona.

Fran's Chocolates - Valrhona, Felchlin, and Callebaut

Richard Donnelly - Valrhona, Callebaut, and Cacao Barry

Brian McElrath - Vintage Plantations, E. Guittard, Belcolade, et al.

Chuao - El Rey

Garrison Confections- Guittard

Lake Champlain Chocolates - Callebaut.

Edited by ejw50 (log)
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That is what many of my colleagues say- use Callebaut! It is so much cheaper! It even happened once that someone didn't buy my chocolates at a festival because I didn't use Belgium chocolate, which "everyone knows is the best" !! The problem is that if I buy some Valrhona and some Callebaut, being so small, Callebaut won't even deliver to me. Valrhona will. So I ended up loyal, besides loving the chocolate. I think tasting is a great idea. I will plan this and market it a bit. Get them away from "Elite" - our local hershey type, although I think Elite is better than Hershey... :wink:

As to Valrhona, some of their grande crus are not listed as ideal for molding- but are for coating. I am not exactly sure why, unless for molding it is too thin and fluid. Valrhona aid module ANd for molding, then I would have to choose one of their classics- which I am not mad about. Melange, my problem is that because the ganache is the focus, I need to decide whether to enhance it or contrast it. A course for this combination would be good.

And then, there is the question of whether we let our customers guide us, or do we train them?? I suppose a bit of both!!

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Inspired by Darienne's 70% question on the Greweling thread, I decided to open an issue. I know that the ganache should have less cacao butter chocolate and the enrobing chocolate should have more- or at least so I was taught or told somewhere some time. Do any of you add CB to your couverture- like to Guanaja?

I found a lot of people don't coat in high cacao percentages. Many use 55-60%. I like 64% and 70%. But then perhaps this hides some of my ganache tastes.  I try to match certain fillings with certain coatings but I get confused. I guess I am not experienced enough yet. I don't know whether to enhance a ganache or to contrast it. To cut the sweetness or go along with it? My Dulce de Leche, for example. I make a layer of DDL and a layer of ganache, which I chose dark for to cut the sweetness of the DDL. Now I could have used Valrhona's Tanariva, which has a caramelly taste to enhance the DDL... WHat are your thought processes when choosing fillings and coatings? Are there any guidelines you go by?

My 2 cents worth(just opinions):

When I choose a chocolate for a center, it has almost everything to do with the flavor profile, and nothing to do with the cocoa percentages, though higher percentages do tend to have a stronger flavor. For dark chocolate centers I start with a 58% and work my way up. To me the chocolate has to taste good on its own, but also make a nice canvas for the flavors it will be paired with. I find that a fruitier chocolate isn't usually the best choice for fruit based ganaches. As a chocolate with spice notes isn't usually the best for a spice flavored ganache. For my tastes it overemphasizes one aspect of the ganache instead of contributing to the overall complexity.

For dipping in dark, I almost always use a 50/50 mixture of Cacao Barry 64% and 75%.

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I completely understand the fruity issues! You really brought it into perspective- thank you! I think I agree. And mixing two kinds to get the right enrobing chocolate is very good- I know it is done and all, but I just didn't think of it-scared maybe?

Thanks for your input :smile:

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Because I am so new to the chocolate world, I am overwhelmed by the number of chocolates available for use. I am looking at the Qzina catalogue and I can see at a glance semi-sweet chocolate couverture in the following percentages of chocolate: 49, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58 and 62. And this is only the dark chocolate, of course.

Please don't tell me that it is just a matter of choice. Choice based on what?

I can't afford to experiment with that many 5 kilo blocks, financially and time both at this point.

I took classes with a professional chocolatier who uses Callebaut 815 at 57% , but the Qzina rep said I should use Callebaut 811 at 52%. I asked why, but he hasn't answered me yet. I've asked twice now. I am small potatoes or callets, I guess.

I called the company and there is a 1$ difference in a 5 kilo block.

Some one throw me a rope, please. A chocolate rope, I hope.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Because I am so new to the chocolate world, I am overwhelmed by the number of chocolates available for use.  I am looking at the Qzina catalogue and I can see at a glance semi-sweet chocolate couverture in the following percentages of chocolate: 49, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58 and 62.  And this is only the dark chocolate, of course.

Please don't tell me that it is just a matter of choice.  Choice based on what?

I can't afford to experiment with that many 5 kilo blocks, financially and time both at this point.

I took classes with a professional chocolatier who uses Callebaut 815 at 57% , but the Qzina rep said I should use Callebaut 811 at 52%.  I asked why, but he hasn't answered me yet.  I've asked twice now.  I am small potatoes or callets, I guess.

I called the company and there is a 1$ difference in a 5 kilo block. 

Some one throw me a rope, please.  A chocolate rope, I hope.

Not to add more confusion, but in the Callebaut 811, you need to know if it is straight 811, or A,B, or C. Actually, the A might be the basic one. Each letter represents less cocoa butter. The Callebaut 823 and white chocolate have the same letters. I think it is about 1-2% less cocoa butter for each letter. No one said this job is easy, but it sure is fun testing:-) Most of the chocolate companies will send you samples to try out. Just call customer service and ask. Good luck. Ruth

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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Not to add more confusion...

But you ARE adding more confusion. :wacko:

OK. So, one has more or less cocoa butter...but what does that mean to me, as the newbie?

This will be a long and delicious project I guess...although I wouldn't count on a Canadian supplier sending out samples to try.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Not to add more confusion...

But you ARE adding more confusion.  :wacko:

OK.  So, one has more or less cocoa butter...but what does that mean to me, as the newbie?

This will be a long and delicious project I guess...although I wouldn't count on a Canadian supplier sending out samples to try.

The more cocoa butter, the thinner it is (less viscous). It is good for molds because it can flow into little places. More cocoa butter usually means more expensive. The "c" of Callebaut is an all-purpose viscocity. I prefer a thinner chocolate--"A" or no letter. I have been using E Guittard and really prefer it to Callebaut. It is all personal taste and budget. R

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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For a couverture it is always easy to add a percent or three of cocoa butter, but (practically) impossible to remove cocoa butter.

For the ganache chocolate, it is easy to add more sugar, but (practically) impossible to remove sugar.

When I first returned to chocolate five years ago, I wanted a range of origin 100% cocoa paste / liquor / chocolate, ie 54% cocoa butter, 46% cocoa solids, 0% sugar. Two years ago Valrhona introduced 100% Araguani, 100% Alpaco, 100% Tainori, and 100% Manjari.

From these one can produce a couverture of the required sweetness and fluidity: at first by mixing say 72% Araguani with 100% Araguani, then by adding more cocoa butter if required.

And, of more interest to me, create ganache from 100% origin pate de cacao using alternatives to the usual sugar/invert sugar/glucose syrup, such as erythritol, inulin, polydextrose, ...

---

When I first started selling my chocolates I was asked repetitively, "What makes your chocolates different?" The easiest, most engaging, and convincing answer I found was to say, "Compare these two chocolates [callets]." One being Valrhona Araguani (which I use) the other Callebaut (which I otherwise do not).

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The more cocoa butter, the thinner it is (less viscous).  It is good for molds because it can flow into little places.  More cocoa butter usually means more expensive.  The "c" of Callebaut is an all-purpose viscocity. I prefer a thinner chocolate--"A" or no letter.  I have been using E Guittard and really prefer it to Callebaut.  It is all personal taste and budget. R

Thanks Ruth,

So I am looking in the Qzina catalogue at the 811 dark Callebaut. There's an

*811 Dark Chocolate Unwrapped Slab 54%, block

*811 Semi Sweet Chcolate 54%, discs

*811 NV Semi Sweet Chocolate 54%, block

*C811NV Semi Sweet 52%, discs

*D811NV Semi Sweet, 52%, block

*D811NV Unwrapped Semi Sweet 52%, block

That seems to be it for 811s which are not callets. At least I now know what callets are, and pistoles, and feves...

Can you tell me what the 'NV' means? C is all-purpose viscosity. What is D? Super thick?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

NV refers to natural vanilla. The 811 block and discs are the same chocolate. The C811 is thicker (less viscous) than the 811, the D even thicker. Due to less cocoa butter.

I prefer the 815 to the 811 - less sweet. A nice basic chocolate that doesn't interfere too much with the flavours in your centers.

Click here to link to callebaut dark chocolates

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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Lior, great topic and one sure to get varied responses. I've used many couvertures and it is ironic that I've finally settled on Valrhona for all coatings. I don't really have the luxury of switching between different darks for the productions I do so I try to use a nice chocolate that doesn't have too many strong overtones. It is good to have some distinctive flavor profiles if you airbrushing or painting the shells as the cocoa butter can add a bitter tone if you are not careful. Typically, I use a blend of 66% Caraibe and the Valrhona 61% which has a much more basic taste. I think the flavor is very good and the consistency is much better than other chocolates I've used in the past. It also is much more consistent (for me and my conditions) when it comes to tempering and getting a good shine.

For white, I just have not found anything that comes close to the Valrhona white in flavor and workability (I wish I could as it isn't cheap). It also is a very fluid chocolate and I never have problems with it when doing molded pieces.

I've used several milk chocolates and while I think the best tasting I've ever had was Cluziel, I again use Valrhona in most cases.

The chocolate I use for the ganache varies depending on the piece. A passion fruit center will dominate any chocolate and it really is just a waste to use Valrhona when the primary taste will be the passion fruit. If I'm doing Creme Brulee which is primarily a vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache, I'll use my best white chocolate as it improves the flavor.

Ultimately, it is a matter of choice and what makes sense for your needs or business. Great feedback from everyone and I'll have to try some Callebaut to see how it works.

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I guess my other issue is that I'm not a pro. I make chocolates only 12 days of the year (~3200 pieces a year).

So with that level of practice, fluctuations in my technique (both in molding and in ganache prep) will dominate over incremental improvement of going from Callebaut to Valrhona or Cluizel or Felchlin or whatever.

And it's not as if Callebaut is bad - many pros use it too.

I think I can think of maybe 1 person in my audience who would be able to tell I used Valrhona instead of Callebaut - for the shell anyway, in some cases the chocolate used in the ganache will make a big difference as Truffle guy notes. The shells are supposed to be thin anyway, right?

I think that going to 815 from 811 would make a bigger difference in shell and wouldn't cost you any more.

Edited by ejw50 (log)
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Well I guess I need to start blending. I also like the Ivoire from Valrhona. Sometimes I have to even do two coating in the moulds as it is so thin! Darienne, sometimes itis good to have blocks- I like using bigger chunks for tempering by the seeding method as it is easy to fish out at the end.

I think also that each chocolatier needs to be individual- what is unique to him? So chocolate choice is important. Developing a guideline to go by lessens the confusion- like fruity fillings=bland coating etc. And of course, rules can be broken... I guess I need to develop my own guideline, and being rather new one needs confidence. I suppose it comes with time. In recipes in books, sometimes the author instructs which kind of chocolate to use but it is rare and left unexplained.

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Truffle Guy, thanks for sharing your choices.

Typically, I use a blend of 66% Caraibe and the Valrhona 61% which has a much more basic taste. I think the flavor is very good and the consistency is much better than other chocolates I've used in the past. It also is much more consistent (for me and my conditions) when it comes to tempering and getting a good shine.

I must try this blend, I have tried blending Valrhona couvertures in the past with appalling results, however Caraibe and Extra bitter sounds a winner. Which percentages do you use, 50/50?

I absolutely agree, Valrhona's couvertures are the most consistent of all the couvertures I have tried, and produce the most stable shine. (Apologies to the US manufactures - I have not tried most of your couvertures.) It's just I have yet to get the right balance in a Valrhona couverture for my ganache formulations, which ironically are mostly based on Valrhona chocolate.

For white, I just have not found anything that comes close to the Valrhona white in flavor and workability (I wish I could as it isn't cheap). It also is a very fluid chocolate and I never have problems with it when doing molded pieces.

I love El Rey's white chocolate, Icoa. I believe that its superior taste is partly due to their use of non-deodorised cocoa butter. I have only enrobed with it once at a demonstration (nipples of venus for a hen party), so cannot really vouch for its performance as an enrobing couverture. However it is flavour is really superb (for a white chocolate). And its much cheaper than Ivoire!

---

Lior, Amedei 9 is 75% cocoa.

---

Some years ago I created a cinnamon ganache using Valrhona Caraibe (blend of Trinitario from the Caribbean Islands, 66% cocoa). My audience found it one of the weakest in my collection and it soon disappeared. When Valrhona launched Tainori (blend of Trinitario from the Dominican Republic, 64% cocoa) I made a cinnamon ganache with it. The ganache is incredibly good, with strong overtones of banana.

These two chocolates are very similar: same manufacture; similar percentage of sugar; same cacao variety; and both from the Caribbean. Yet the subtle difference in the flavour of the two chocolates leads to very different flavour pairings. Tainori and cinnamon; Caraibe and Lombardy coffee.

For me its all about finding infusions/inclusions that complement the chocolate. At least it is now, twenty-five years ago I produced 25g alcohol-laced truffles using Callibaut. As Lior said above, and many have echoed, the audience for "Belgium truffles" remains large. But the market direction is definitely towards greater knowledge of chocolate and cacaos, and towards an appetite for the unusual ...

... Oh, and the healthy.

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