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Best affordable chocolate brand?


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Chocovic is now being imported by Vintage Chocolates (www.echocolates.com). They are importing the following items from Chocovic's Origin Unico line, all in 11kg boxes:

Guinea Dark (71%)

Caracas Dark (66%)

Cameroon Dark (60%)

Niagara Dark (58%)

Costa Rica Dark (54%)

Sumatra Milk (37%)

Nepal White (32%)

Prices (wholesale FOB New Jersey) range from $2.72/lb for the Sumatra Milk to $3.36 for the Guinea and Caracas to $4.18 for the Nepal.


Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

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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.

Thanks for confirming.

I've read that chips have substances added to make them hold their shape and wouldn't use them in a recipe calling for melted semi-sweet chocolate. But in comparing "chips to chips" I found the Guittard to be worse than Nestle, Ghiradelli and our local grocery store brand.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Once you start baking, the subtle characteristics of a chocolate are lost because it becomes diluted in the ganache and cake. Therefore, I recommend getting the least expensive of

1. Callebaut (appeals to the widest range of people)

2. Valrhona (very high quality in every product they sell, and while I love Callebaut the most I haven't tried all of their 180+ different types of chocolate so I can't be as confident in a recommendation).

3. El rez (another crowd pleaser, unlikely to be the cheapest)

BTW: I'm not so pleased with the Cacao Barry line, which is often sold at roughly the same price as Callebaut. Some of those flavours (e.g Tanzanie Origine Rare) is too exotic and overpowering.

If you are making bonbons or even just tasting chocolate directly (perhaps after molding into shapes), I recommend

1. Callebaut. Silky smooth, pure chocolate flavours. Don't go crazy and start making things out of the 72% and assume everyone will like it. 56% isn't too bitter for even inexperienced palates.

2. Valrhona. Again, beware extremely strong tastes. If you pour super-strong chocolate sauce on delecate vanilla ice cream, you'll ruin it. The cariaibe 66% is nice a starting point. I agree with a previous message posted that said the Valrhona baking bar is probably a bit flat for the Valrhona name & price.

That's it. I think that you can basically divide chocolate lovers in these two categories. People who prefer Callebaut will likely also like the taste of El rez, but the latter isn't quite as divine in texture and costs more. People who prefer Valrhona will also like Michel Cluzel, but once again it costs more.

I think Callebaut and Valrhona are the two gold standards, each representing two ways of making chocolate. Try each and see which you like better.

Robert Linxe of Maison du Chocolat in Paris, reputedly one of the finest chocolatier's, is quoted in Patrica Well's Paris Cookbook as stating that the best chocolate in the world is "van couva [sic] from Trinidad". As far as I know that doesn't exist (zero hits on Google) and I'm pretty sure it was meant to be Gran Couva from Trinidad which is a limited production Valrhona. Get it while you can!


P.S. If you can get it, there are some really interesting products in the Callebaut line. Like their milk chocolate with hazelnuts (ultrafine, you can taste them but barely feel them in the texture). You can use to make flash desserts that are impressive. E.g. Take heavy cream, whip it (use a blender if that's all you have) to soft peaks and then fold in this melted chocolate. If you start with very cold cream, then you don't need to refridgerate and you can have happy guests in no time.

P.P.S. Again, Linxe quoted in that book doesn't refridgerate his mousse (made traditionally with raw eggs) because he feels it blocks the chocolate flavour and so he rather lets it sit in a "cold spot" whatever that means. He is certainly right that you don't want to splurge on really expensive chocolate only to waste it in some frozen cold desserts. Serving temperature is essential!

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