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Favorite Quality Dark Chocolate to Eat


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There are more than enough threads about ubiquitous, easily available chocolate candy, whether milk or dark, and we've all eaten all of the usual suspects at some time or other. We all have our "favorites" but to me, discussing the best drug store chocolate is like asking which one is the least awful. Yes, dark chocolate M&Ms are a little better than the regular milk chocolate ones, and if I am stuck at the airport I'm thrilled to find them. They're still nothing to write home about.

What about your favorite artisanal or high quality chocolates? My only criteria here is that it be something you really like eating straight, and not just for baking--bars, not filled chocolates. Right now, for my money (okay, you have to assume that good chocolate doesn't come cheap) my favorite bar is Michel Cluizel Noir au Grue de Cacao: that's dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, 60% cocoa.

I'm also very fond of the Belgian brand Neuhaus, but that's harder to come by. Although I would never turn down dark or bittersweet chocolate up to about 85% cocoa, I prefer something between 60 and 70%. What do you love?

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I know it's not the very top shelf, but my favourite chocolate to eat on its own is Scharffen Berger semisweet, at 62% cacao. To my palate, there's a bright, almost floral flavour to it that I love. Unfortunately, it's not easy to find around these parts. More reliable is Dolfin, but mostly for their flavoured products. (Earl Grey being the easy favourite.)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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The Michel Cluizel chocolates have been a revelation. They knocked Valrhona (my previous fave) off its perch. I'd try baking with it, but it's so expensive that I've made excuses to avoid trying. Would hate to get hooked on that habit. Valrhona's pricey enough.

I recently tried Mast Brothers chocolate, made artisinally by a couple of backwoods-looking hipsters right here in Brooklyn. I was hoping to hate it, since their prices lie on the hazy border between comedy and insult (more than DOUBLE Michel Cluizel, which is close to double Valrhona, which is close to double Callebaut ...). Tragically, I liked it a lot. Not sure when I'll be buying any more, though.

For good chocolate, great value, and surprising accessibility, I'm a fan of Lindt 70%.

Notes from the underbelly

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For me, no question. Askinosie Chocolate

Funny, I don't intend to, but every time I indulge in a bit of this, I find I've closed my eyes, the better to savor each melting morsel.

Exquisite.

And baking chocolate treats with their Single origin cocoa powder gives the most extraordinary flavor to even your most ordinary recipes.

I love this place.

______________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Everything I've ever had from Domori -- which includes most of their "Criollo" and single-origin bars -- has been seriously, seriously good, with amazing texture and complexity. Awfully hard to find on a regular basis, though.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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some of my favourites - in no particular order:

pierre marcolini - porcelana

askinoise - rustique

valrhona - manjari (i keep a 3kg bag just for nibbling:))

michel cluizel - maralumi/papouasie-nlle guinée

amedei - porcelana

/Magnus - happy amateur chocolatier

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Daily chocolate for me is the 70% Scharffenberger. Occasional rivals would have to include some from Domori (as noted above, hard to find, and super expensive), some of the single-bean selections from Michel Cluizel in his mini-squares tasting sets (ditto), but day in, day out, its the 70% SB.

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I have had some really excellent 70% bars from SOMA who are based in Toronto and also really enjoyed Coppeneur Chuao 70%.

I am indebted to work colleagues for bringing these back from their travels, the bars I can source locally are rather poor .

Lapin

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Especially if value is a consideration, for eating straight my pick is El Rey. It's not as smooth as the European chocolates, but it has character. And it's cheap -- an 80g bar at the store where I do a lot of my food shopping is $2.75, and if you buy in bulk I'm sure you can get it much cheaper. I like a strong chocolate taste so my favorite of the portfolio is Gran Saman at 70%.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Definitely Amedei Chuao.

The story of how the French told the Italian producers they were not evolved enough to use Valrhona and the Italians went ahead and took their premium plantation supplier from underneath them is a salutary lesson for all snobs everywhere. Read the story here.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I saw Pete Wells's story when it came out, and I have a pastry-chef friend who keeps giving me Amedei to try, so I feel totally ignorant when I taste it and think it's just okay. She, on the other hand, thinks I'm a barbarian for liking El Rey.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Perhaps it's what you grow up with. You mentioned it was not as smooth -- I would tend to extend this description by commenting that many non-European chocolates are much too grainy for my tastes.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I grew up with Hershey's, like most Americans of my age, and didn't have good chocolate until I was an adult. However, the first pastry chef whose work I developed an appreciation for was a proponent of El Rey. (Chris Broberg.) He also used Valrhona and was one of the early adopters of Scharffenberger, so I got to try them all in various configurations at a time (mid 1990s) when few people were talking about chocolate in a serious way. El Rey is gritty, it's true, although two of the formulations (Mijao and Apamate) are substantially smoother than the other two (Bucare and Gran Saman) on account of increased cocoa butter. But I think the flavor of El Rey, despite its grittier-than-European texture (which I've come to like), is the most interesting. It tastes more like chocolate to me than the European chocolates with their fruity, wine-like flavors. It has a funky, earthy, woodsy component that nobody else seems to have. I also think, for those who like white chocolate, El Rey's is the best period. I've done two blind tastings of white chocolates and it wasn't even close.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I also think, for those who like white chocolate, El Rey's is the best period. I've done two blind tastings of white chocolates and it wasn't even close.

I'm curious. The Times of London named the Askinosi White Chocolate "Nibble Bar" one of the Ten Best Bars in the world.

Have you tried it? How does it compare?

Askinosi White Chocolate Nibble Bar

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I generally do not like white chocolate but I tried the askinoise white chocolate bar and I must say it is a good piece of chocolate, most white chocolates i have had in the past, unfortunately supar bars you generally one dimensional and it is straight sugar whereas the askinoise the sweetness was pleasant and a good clean taste. also the bar wasnt albino white either, it was more like ivory. I have also had their davao dark chocolate and their chocolate spread. My most recent favorite has been the Amano Madagascar which I am digging the citurs undertones in the bar.

Edited by DudeImHungry (log)
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I generally do not like white chocolate but I tried the askinoise white chocolate bar and I must say it is a good piece of chocolate, most white chocolates i have had in the past, unfortunately supar bars you generally one dimensional and it is straight sugar whereas the askinoise the sweetness was pleasant and a good clean taste.

I'm with you, Dude. I don't generally like white chocolate, either. It does taste like "straight sugar," suspended in wax. Although I do enjoy the occasional bite of Peppermint Bark during the holidays, I think that otherwise, it's pretty ghastly. In fact, probably wouldn't have even tried the Askinosie white chocolate except that I had occasion to visit the Askinosie chocolate factory, and it was included in the tasting portion. And Mr. Askinosie went into some detail about their white chocolate, clearly with considerable pride.

Askinosie White Chocolate

So I tried it, and was pleasantly surprised.

That's why I'm curious as to where it landed on FG's tasting comparison list.

_________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Askinosie is the only white chocolate I think is competitive with El Rey, though I like El Rey better. I'm pretty sure they are the only two brands -- El Rey used to be the only one until recently -- that use non-deodorized cocoa butter in their white chocolate.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Had an amazing discovery this year on my trip in the Pacific Northwest. Right next to my hotel in Seattle was a little chocolate shop called "claudio coralla" that looked intrigueing but was always closed as we came in a night. On last day, decided to detour and am so glad I did. Claudio Corallo is the best chocolate I have ever tasted. Expecially the 80% sandy with crystalized sugar. In the past, Amedei has been my husband's special treat for me at x-mas and Valentine's day - don't need flowers or card. This chocolate far exceeds Amedei.

I just looked up to see if there was any other info out there and found this interesting article: Claudio Corallo makes world's finest chocolate. It is single source chocolate and the maker lives on the island where it is produced. According to the article, Charlie Trotter has already discovered it. It was definitely the best surprise discovery of the trip and I will no longer be requesting Amedei for gifts.

If you are in Seattle area, it is well worth a trip to the retail store. I think the manager may be a partner. She was incredibly knowledgeable and was very interested for suggestions about possible retail outlets in the east. There is already one somewhere near Manhatten - I think maybe Brooklyn.

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I remember reading about his chocolate in somebody's book a while back.....blanking on the name of the book and the author, but the author actually travelled to Corallo's plantation and made me very excited to watch for when the chocolates became commercially available. Thank you for the heads up! on this one. Yay!

Off to order some.

Only google checkout. Order FAIL.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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I would call the Seattle retail location. The manager was really helpful and I plan on calling there for my next fix. I see on the web that they are only selling individual bars but I was able to buy in bulk while I was there.

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At the risk of lowering the bar, I generally eat Green & Blacks. It's now readily available in supermarkets (in Australia & the UK) so it's not really in keeping with the artisanal intention of the thread, but I don't think it's a case of 'the least bad'.

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