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Best affordable chocolate brand?


Elizabeth_11
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How does one (being, shall we say, not employed as a chef) go about finding somewhere to buy these high-end chocolates?  I'm not opposed to mailorder but if I could find something local (Columbus, OH) I'd be happy.  I know where I can get Callebaut and Scharffen Berger, but have never laid eyes on Valrhona, etc.  (Would you believe they had a story in the local paper a few weeks back with a chocolate tasting, but no sources?  Grrr.)

I'm not exactly God's gift to baking (don't have the patience) but I do like to play around every now and again.

I would suggest contacting the people who held the chocolate tasting, they might have some tips. Also, you can check boutique type stores as they tend to have specialty products like high end chocolate. Another way might be to find some of the better pastry chefs in town and ask them.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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'Chocovic'

I have not, unfortunately. There has been at least one previous thread addressing it- I'll look for it. I do like to check in on their www.chocovic.es- they run a school (Albert Adrià is heavily involved) and post the schedule on the site, in addition to some recipes and technical info. I'm curious to hear if they've worked out their US distribution yet...

On a related note, member Kareen brought me some of the CB origine Cuba 70%. I think I'd agree with Steve- nothing too special. Over the weekend, I did uncover some forgotten, still sealed treats from my last visit to Paris and La Grande Epicerie... two bars of Michel Cluizel. One is the 1re Cru D'Hacienda "Concepcion" from Venezuela, a 66%. The second is the Pure Origine du Monde "Ilha Toma" from Ile de São Tomé, off central Africa, a 65%.

Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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Oh yes, the Hacienda is very very nice--it's been around for 2, maybe 3 years and is their most expensive chocolate. Chocovic is direct-shipped from Georgia these days--my local distributor who carried it for years dropped them--and I don't expect the distribution to all of a sudden get better without more commitment on the part of Chocovic, but their entire (European) product line is not made available to the US. Of what is available, I only like the Ocumare (their VZ variety.) But I really like it. I just doubt they can be price competitive with the E. Guittard blends relying heavily on VZ beans.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve, I too used to use the chocovic (I am not sure as to %)

S.O.S. used to carry their line. They have dropped off the face of the earth. Their base line was ok, flavor alittle chalky and not to fluid once melted. I have grown to really like working with Belcolade, a Belgian brand- I get from Dairyland. Their is also a brand OSG, i used to get from EuroSource Gourmet. Good all around, again I dont know if it is still avilable.

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Chocovic is direct-shipped from Georgia these days--my local distributor who carried it for years dropped them--and I don't expect the distribution to all of a sudden get better without more commitment on the part of Chocovic, but their entire (European) product line is not made available to the US.  Of what is available, I only like the Ocumare (their VZ variety.)  But I really like it.  I just doubt they can be price competitive with the E. Guittard blends relying heavily on VZ beans.

Steve, can you describe the flavor of Ocumare, comparing it to some other type?

Michael, I dig their site too.

2317/5000

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To get back to the original poster, I think you also have to know your audince. I've made and given truffles for years, for Christmas, teacher gifts,etc. and I've found a goodly number of folks who really don't want their choccies to be as bittersweet and, uh, rich, as I like them. I prefer Valrhona but I've had great responses from people when I used the Guittard.

I'm not trying to open up a snob war, but if "pearls before swine" is too harsh, at least some people just have a different taste in chocolate than I do.

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I asked Jordi Butron if he used Chocovic and he said "no!" so  I then mentioned Valrhona but he sort of brushed off the question.  :hmmm:

Lesley, were you @ the restaurant or someplace else when you asked?

BTW, I've never seen the choc that you were talking about in your earlier post(DCF?).

Do you have a source for it?

Thanks!

2317/5000

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Hi Tan,

Butron was in Montreal this weekend for the Montreal High Lights Festival.

It's DGF, Distributeurs Grossistes de France (I think). They make all kinds of pastry products, from cream to couverture. They have an army of MOF's at their school. Here's their site www.dgf.fr

and here's the link for chocolate

http://www.dgf.fr/francais/prod.php?codeFa...s+de+couverture.

They seem to have a new line of chocolats d'origine.

Tan are you from the States? I only know of a distributor for Canada.

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Hi Tan,

Butron was in Montreal this weekend for the Montreal High Lights Festival.

It's DGF, Distributeurs Grossistes de France (I think). They make all kinds of pastry products, from cream to couverture. They have an army of MOF's at their school. Here's their site  www.dgf.fr

and here's the link for chocolate

http://www.dgf.fr/francais/prod.php?codeFa...s+de+couverture

They seem to have a new line of chocolats d'origine.

Tan are you from the States? I only know of a distributor for Canada.

Thanks for the info, Lesley.

I currently reside in the SW USA.

I'm jonesing to read your Jodi story!

2317/5000

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  • 4 weeks later...

Stopped in Trader Joe's last night and noticed they are now carrying large-ish bars of Belgian chocolate under their own brand called "Pound Plus". I'm not sure how long they've been around, but this is the first time I've noticed them, so I thought I would give it a try. I got a 17.6 oz (500 g) bar of the "70% Dark Chocolate" for $3.79. Ingredients are: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, and soy lecithin - cocoa solids 70% minimum. The back of the package reads:

"Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bars are imported direct from Belgium. They are made exclusively for Trader Joe's in a small town outside of Antwerp by confectionary artisans known for producing perhaps the finest chocolate in the world. Each bar weighs 500 grams, 1.6 ounces more than a pound - hence the name Pound Plus."

On tasting, the quality seems really quite good - strong, dark chocolate flavor with some fruity notes and a smooth texture. I didn't have any Valrhona around to taste it against, but it was certainly better than the Guittard I've been using recently, and a great price at less than $3.50 a pound. I'd be interested in finding out who is making this stuff for Trader Joe's.

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Probably Callebaut. I've seen those bars for at least a year if not longer. Usually, though, places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes do not reveal who actually makes their private label stuff for them.

What Guittard you been using lately? Not the "E. Guittard" 61% or 72% I suspect, which right now are the best chocolates for the money in the US.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 1 month later...
Les Louis by DGF is an excellent chocolate for the price.

I like the taste and it's easy to temper.

When I worked at Thuries in France, we used DGF everything -- even though everyone was under the impression we used Valrhona. This was in the days before he was making his own chocolate.

Can anyone tell me more about this brand, DGF?

I have a dilemma here in New Mexico.

My regular pastry supplier is in a bit of a bind I think , and this other distributor is trying to sell me on this chocolate.

Also, does anyone know of any distributors in the southwest where I can get Valrhona, CB, Cocoa noel,etc.?

Thanks!

2317/5000

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I spent some time at Payard Patisserie and that was all he used. Good quality, nothing outstanding

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Used being the operative tense. He's apparently shifted allegiance, to Weiss I believe. At least he was promoting Weiss at the New York Chocolate Show last year.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Sorry Tan, can't help you with SW distributors. Call up my friend Don Holzter, who is the pastry chef of the new JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix. Tell him you're a friend of mine. He'd know all the distributors. You could call ParisGourmet to find out about Cacao Noel distribution, they have an 800# I'm pretty sure.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Sorry Tan, can't help you with SW distributors.  Call up my friend Don Holzter, who is the pastry chef of the new JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix.  Tell him you're a friend of mine. He'd know all the distributors.  You could call ParisGourmet to find out about Cacao Noel distribution, they have an 800# I'm pretty sure.

Thanks guys!

Steve , I'll do that.

Just one favor though, if you don't mind.

How does one properly pronounce your last name?

Thanks again!.

2317/5000

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Cacao Barry Cuba has been mentioned in a number of posts. It is not bad, however, their Tanzanie is delicious and much more distinctive.

I'm surprised that I have not seen either Michel Cluizel or Dolfin mentioned. Both are exquisite, especially the Cluizel.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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What about El Rey Chocolates??  I tend to prefer this brand and it is not very expensive...

http://www.chocolate-elrey.com/

Thanks for your suggestion about el rey.

I have worked witht them before and while I like the taste, I don't love the way they respond to manipulation.

The main thing I was posting about here was the possibility of finding a new distributor in the new mexico area for ANY decent chocolate and related products as my main one I feel could be in trouble.

2317/5000

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I don't have a recommendation for you, Elizabeth. In fact, I'm learning from this thread.

One comment. I am very surprised to hear so much praise for Guittard. I used Guittard Semi-Sweet Chips in a batch of chocolate chip cookies and was very disappointed. The chocolate chips were fresh, but they tasted funny and had a slick texture. I'll never buy them again.

Sorry I don't have anything more constructive to say, but I had such a bad experience with the Guittard chips that I just had to say something :(.

pcpop01.jpg

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Claire--the praise you are hearing is for "E. Guittard" not regular old "Guittard." HUGE difference. Guittard is a huge company, one of the larger chocolate manufacturers in the world; however, only their recently introduced, upscale line of couvertures--called E. Guittard--designed to compete head to head with Valrhona--is what I use and what I'm praising. The regular old crap you see in grocery stores is just that, regular old crap.

By the way, most chips taste funny and have a slick, waxy feel to them, that's because chips are formulated differently--formulated to hold their shape longer at baking temps. A "couverture" like E. Guittard, though, would melt readily.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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