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Old 08-15-2004, 08:55 AM   #1
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Which brand of chocolate is king?

Over the past year or so, I have been experimenting heavily with different brands of chocolate, trying to find the ultimate chocolate. I was just curious if anyone else has made this attempt, and what their results have been? Let me start with mine. Just FYI though, I always judge the flavor of chocolate by eating, never in the actual baking, as I find it is easier to discern flavor when you eat the chocolate pure. Also, I cannot stand to eat solid bittersweet chocolate, so all my testing on dark chocolate was done with it melted.

Dark Chocolate (Semisweet/Bittersweet, 50%-85%)

I have tried the following brands: Valrhona, Callebaut, El Ray, Sharffen Berger, Bakers.

My favorite in this category is Valrhona. Their Guanaja 70% has a beautiful balanced flavor, and melts into liquid silk. However, the Scharffen Berger 70% is about 20% cheaper, and is just about the same. I'd say it's like Coke versus Pepsi; while I can tell the difference in a direct taste test, and I nominally prefer the Valrhona to the SB, the difference does not justify the cost. Consequently, SB is the chocolate I now use for all of my baking.

The Callebaut was my next-favorite, although to be fair, this was a 54%, which is not really the same as the others. Still, it had a very good flavor, and was unbelievably cheap. (If you buy the 11 lbs. block, it is less than half the cost of SB or Valrhona!) My only complaint was that it had a less smooth consistency when it melted, and the block was as big as a 2/4! For all the other brands, their blocks come in smaller pieces, with grooves for easier breaking. Not the Callebaut. You could club someone to death with this monster, and God help you trying to find a drawer or cupboard to accommodate it. Also, it is inconvenient that you practically need a chainsaw to cut through it!

The El Ray Gran Saman (70%) was next on my list. It wasn't as smooth as SB or Valrhona, and I hated the fruitiness.

Last and definitely least was Bakers. It has a downright UNPLEASANT flavor, the only chocolate that is actually nasty to eat, melted or solid. Also, when you melt it, it's got this grainy texture, like sand. Yuck.

Milk Chocolate

In this category, I have tried the following brands: Valrhona, Dolphin, Cote D'Or, and Lindt. I did not try Bakers, if such a thing even exists. Although I have some in my cupboard for future testing, I have not had a chance to sample SB's product in this category.

Here, it was a toss up between Lindt extra fine, and Valrhona. Honestly, I can't tell which is better. I think I might prefer the Valrhona a bit more, but if so, it's only by a hair. The Cote D'Or was very good, though not as tasty as the others.

By far, the worst was the Dolphin. I HATED this milk chocolate. It had the weirdest flavor. YUCK.

White Chocolate

I have only tried Valrhona and Lindt. It is no contest. Valrhona is king. It pulverizes Lindt and sends him crying like a sissy back to Switzerland.

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Old 08-15-2004, 11:58 AM   #2
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Jason, I must say that I have not done the exhaustive research you seem to have done. My favourites are Lindt, and Callebaut, closely followed by Purdy's. I could eat Lindt till I blow up, so it rarely makes to the baking arena!
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Old 08-15-2004, 01:04 PM   #3
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I went to a great chocolate tasting session at Harvey Nicholls in Manchester. We tried rare single estate chocolates, different chocolate spreads, all sorts of things. I have developed a keen love of Valhrona, especially their drinking chocolate, it's divine.

I do like Lindt, and it never ever gets to baking stage! I must confess to using reasonably cheap chocolate to bake with. I can't bear to do anything with the good quality stuff except eat it!
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Old 08-15-2004, 08:23 PM   #4
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Ghirardelli is the best all around brand for me
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Old 08-15-2004, 10:59 PM   #5
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Ooooooooo! Ghirardelli! Drool drool!!
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Old 08-16-2004, 12:10 AM   #6
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Not to gross you out, but...

When I was a kid my sister and I got into a box of chocolate Exlax (a laxative, if you don't know) and ate all of them. They made us really sick. Then not long after, we went to the movies and bought Flicks (made by Ghirardelli). They tasted just like the Exlax, and I've never been able to eat Ghirardelli chocolate since!

:) Barbara
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Old 08-16-2004, 07:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbara L
Not to gross you out, but...

When I was a kid my sister and I got into a box of chocolate Exlax (a laxative, if you don't know) and ate all of them. They made us really sick. Then not long after, we went to the movies and bought Flicks (made by Ghirardelli). They tasted just like the Exlax, and I've never been able to eat Ghirardelli chocolate since!

:) Barbara
I did that once as well, ughhh
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Old 08-20-2004, 06:05 PM   #8
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Just an update: I got to try Scharffen Berger milk chocolate. BOORING. Total disappointment, not even as good as the regular Lindt. Lindt extra fine and Valhrona are still king...
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Old 08-31-2004, 09:19 PM   #9
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My favorite is Scharffen Berger 70% - the taste is amazing - plus I love Ghirardelli semi-sweet and bittersweet. I always have excellent results with all my baked goods and ganaches using any of these chocolates.
I dislike both the El Rey and Valrhona 70%, but Valrhona is my favorite milk chocolate.
As far as white "chocolate" is concerned, I basically hate it, since most of it tastes like sweetened wax, but the El Rey is excellent.
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