Chocolate (rec.food.chocolate) all topics related to eating and making chocolate such as cooking techniques, recipes, history, folklore & source recommendations.

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Old 23-01-2004, 02:07 AM
frood
 
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Default Product reviews?

I've been checking out various online sites to buy chocolate supplies. I can
find information on the sites on the chocolate liquor content, as well as
cocoa butter content; both useful bits of information. However, since taste
is subjective, it is still hard to figure out which I want.

Anyone care to describe the taste attributes of different brands? How about
ease of use properties? Favorite sites in terms of price or customer
service?

--
Wendy
http://griffinsflight.com/Quilting/quilt1.htm
De-Fang email address to reply



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Old 24-01-2004, 03:10 AM
Alex Rast
 
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Default Product reviews?

at Fri, 23 Jan 2004 02:07:57 GMT in
,
(frood) wrote :

I've been checking out various online sites to buy chocolate supplies. I
can find information on the sites on the chocolate liquor content, as
well as cocoa butter content; both useful bits of information. However,
since taste is subjective, it is still hard to figure out which I want.

Anyone care to describe the taste attributes of different brands? How
about ease of use properties? Favorite sites in terms of price or
customer service?


Half of this depends on what's available to you. I can give you
*exhaustive* characterizations of brands, properties, and application
suitabilities. Clearly publishing all this information in one posting would
overwhelm the system. So if you have a series of specific applications in
mind, let me know and I can give detailed recommendations, descriptions,
where to buy, etc. I can likewise match your personal taste preferences to
brands and chocolates. However, here's some general leanings of different
brands. This is very, very broad and won't apply uniformly to all the
products in their lines. I'm also including only the more common or well-
known and regarded brands. I've broken it into some rough quality
categories.

Low-end:

Baker's : Terrible. Don't even consider. Invariably overroasted, very dry
(low cocoa butter), coarse, and tasteless.
Hershey's : Somewhat improved on Baker's, but not by much. Usually very
sweet. They prefer earthier chocolates, mostly, I suspect, because that
type of bean is cheap.
Nestle : In Europe, some of it is pretty good, in the US, most of it isn't.
But it does improve on the brands above. They go for a very dark roast.
Cocoa butter is usually middle-of-the-pack. Texture is below average.
Cadbury's : Famous for pushing vegelate. Always far too sweet. Usually they
choose surprisingly tasteless, flat beans, although the roast is generally
not badly overdone. Texture is typically fudgy, not surprising given that
it's usually vegelate (i.e. uses other vegetable fats than cocoa butter)

Mid-range consumer:

Droste : As one might expect, they go for Dutch processing. This means a
flat, metallic taste. Texture is usually below average, but not by much.
Lindt : Usually fruity and uncomplex. The flavour tends to be
overwhelmingly a single note. Sometimes that can be good, as in the 85%,
sometimes not so good, as in the Surfin. Texture is usually about average.
The milk chocolate is so mild it could be white chocolate.
Caffarel : Very dark roasting predominates. They lean towards a nutty
flavour, with an affinity for hazelnuts. Usually not especially complex,
and chocolate impact is often a bit lacking. Texture is generally a bit dry
and somewhat coarse.

Quality chocolate:

Ghirardelli : In the US, the best, by far, of the consumer brands. Fruity
tastes predominate, signifying light roasting. Texture generally slightly
above average. Their milk chocolate is superb. In spite of being a volume
producer they're also a high-quality producer, quite a feat. One of the
hidden gems of many a supermarket.
Callebaut : Similar to Ghirardelli across the board. If anything, a little
fruitier. The milk chocolate, however, isn't in the same league as
Ghirardelli.
Guittard : Very high cocoa butter ensures a melt-in-the-mouth creaminess.
Usually very well balanced flavour profiles, often complex but with no one
component really standing out. Roasting is spot-on, neither high nor low.
However, bean quality isn't usually at the ultimate level, and so there's a
bit of a generic taste to them.
El Rey : Usually very earthy, but not in an unpleasant way. They use very
high quality beans indeed. The roast is perhaps a little heavy-handed, and
therefore the chocolate can be a bit dark and lacking in character, but
it's still pretty good. Texture, however, needs work: it usually is
somewhat rough and dry. The white chocolate from them is the best in the
world by miles - literally the only white chocolate you should ever
consider buying.
Scharffen Berger : Incredibly fruity, to a degree that becomes distracting.
I think they're underroasted. Leans towards blackberry/cherry notes.
Usually very smooth texture, with plenty of cocoa butter. The bitterness
hits you with a mighty punch.

Elite brands:

Valrhona : Also very fruity, not perhaps as extreme. Also, perhaps a more
subtle, pleasant fruitiness, towards the raspberry/currant spectrum. They
set the reference standard in the industry for texture, invariably silky
without even a hint of grittiness to them at all.
Michel Cluizel : A darker roast than Valrhona, combined with perhaps even
better beans, results in chocolates with extraordinary balance and
exceptional richness. The flavours are somewhat more nutty/spicy than
Valrhona, but still retain fruity characteristics as highlights. Texture is
very similar to Valrhona, super-smooth, although if a judgement must be
made Valrhona might barely edge him out in terms of texture.
Domori : It's expensive, but it's very good. Darker than either Cluizel or
Valrhona, very resolutely towards the nutty/woody/spicy end of the
spectrum. The varietals bring out the best characteristics of each bean
excellently. Similar to Cluizel texture-wise.

--
Alex Rast

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  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 25-01-2004, 03:16 PM
frood
 
Posts: n/a
Default Product reviews?

I am looking for chocolate to make truffles with. Specifically, I want to
find couverture. I prefer thin coat to thick. I do not have a preference for
liquor content, as I make different centers, and can use just about any
"darkness" of coating.

Locally, there is some Valrhona at one gourmet grocery, but only with
hazelnut, something I do not care for. There is a chocolate candy retail
store, but between the poor customer service, and the mediocre quality, I
don't bother to spend my money there. I usually buy online.

By your range, I enjoy eating the mid-range brands you mention, but I have
never cooked with them. (That doesn't sound right - what do you call it when
you make candies? Candy-made? Candied?) I have tried several of the quality
brands you mentioned, but my opinion differs from your when it comes to
Ghirardelli. I much prefer Scharffenberger. For milk chocolate, the best
I've tasted is British Cadburys - not the exported American version, but the
real deal.

--
Wendy
http://griffinsflight.com/Quilting/quilt1.htm
De-Fang email address to reply
"Alex Rast" wrote in message
...
at Fri, 23 Jan 2004 02:07:57 GMT in
Half of this depends on what's available to you. I can give you

*exhaustive* characterizations of brands, properties, and application
suitabilities. Clearly publishing all this information in one posting

would
overwhelm the system. So if you have a series of specific applications in
mind, let me know and I can give detailed recommendations, descriptions,
where to buy, etc. I can likewise match your personal taste preferences

to
brands and chocolates. However, here's some general leanings of different
brands. This is very, very broad and won't apply uniformly to all the
products in their lines. I'm also including only the more common or well-
known and regarded brands. I've broken it into some rough quality
categories.

Low-end:

Baker's : Terrible. Don't even consider. Invariably overroasted, very dry
(low cocoa butter), coarse, and tasteless.
Hershey's : Somewhat improved on Baker's, but not by much. Usually very
sweet. They prefer earthier chocolates, mostly, I suspect, because that
type of bean is cheap.
Nestle : In Europe, some of it is pretty good, in the US, most of it

isn't.
But it does improve on the brands above. They go for a very dark roast.
Cocoa butter is usually middle-of-the-pack. Texture is below average.
Cadbury's : Famous for pushing vegelate. Always far too sweet. Usually

they
choose surprisingly tasteless, flat beans, although the roast is generally
not badly overdone. Texture is typically fudgy, not surprising given that
it's usually vegelate (i.e. uses other vegetable fats than cocoa butter)

Mid-range consumer:

Droste : As one might expect, they go for Dutch processing. This means a
flat, metallic taste. Texture is usually below average, but not by much.
Lindt : Usually fruity and uncomplex. The flavour tends to be
overwhelmingly a single note. Sometimes that can be good, as in the 85%,
sometimes not so good, as in the Surfin. Texture is usually about average.
The milk chocolate is so mild it could be white chocolate.
Caffarel : Very dark roasting predominates. They lean towards a nutty
flavour, with an affinity for hazelnuts. Usually not especially complex,
and chocolate impact is often a bit lacking. Texture is generally a bit

dry
and somewhat coarse.

Quality chocolate:

Ghirardelli : In the US, the best, by far, of the consumer brands. Fruity
tastes predominate, signifying light roasting. Texture generally slightly
above average. Their milk chocolate is superb. In spite of being a volume
producer they're also a high-quality producer, quite a feat. One of the
hidden gems of many a supermarket.
Callebaut : Similar to Ghirardelli across the board. If anything, a little
fruitier. The milk chocolate, however, isn't in the same league as
Ghirardelli.
Guittard : Very high cocoa butter ensures a melt-in-the-mouth creaminess.
Usually very well balanced flavour profiles, often complex but with no one
component really standing out. Roasting is spot-on, neither high nor low.
However, bean quality isn't usually at the ultimate level, and so there's

a
bit of a generic taste to them.
El Rey : Usually very earthy, but not in an unpleasant way. They use very
high quality beans indeed. The roast is perhaps a little heavy-handed, and
therefore the chocolate can be a bit dark and lacking in character, but
it's still pretty good. Texture, however, needs work: it usually is
somewhat rough and dry. The white chocolate from them is the best in the
world by miles - literally the only white chocolate you should ever
consider buying.
Scharffen Berger : Incredibly fruity, to a degree that becomes

distracting.
I think they're underroasted. Leans towards blackberry/cherry notes.
Usually very smooth texture, with plenty of cocoa butter. The bitterness
hits you with a mighty punch.

Elite brands:

Valrhona : Also very fruity, not perhaps as extreme. Also, perhaps a more
subtle, pleasant fruitiness, towards the raspberry/currant spectrum. They
set the reference standard in the industry for texture, invariably silky
without even a hint of grittiness to them at all.
Michel Cluizel : A darker roast than Valrhona, combined with perhaps even
better beans, results in chocolates with extraordinary balance and
exceptional richness. The flavours are somewhat more nutty/spicy than
Valrhona, but still retain fruity characteristics as highlights. Texture

is
very similar to Valrhona, super-smooth, although if a judgement must be
made Valrhona might barely edge him out in terms of texture.
Domori : It's expensive, but it's very good. Darker than either Cluizel or
Valrhona, very resolutely towards the nutty/woody/spicy end of the
spectrum. The varietals bring out the best characteristics of each bean
excellently. Similar to Cluizel texture-wise.

--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)



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Old 26-01-2004, 03:20 AM
Alex Rast
 
Posts: n/a
Default Product reviews?

at Sun, 25 Jan 2004 15:16:50 GMT in
,
(frood) wrote :

I am looking for chocolate to make truffles with. Specifically, I want
to find couverture. I prefer thin coat to thick. ...


You should also use the same chocolate for the centers. This means the
flavour will be properly balanced. Don't use one chocolate for all coatings
if you're making centers with different chocolates.


Locally, there is some Valrhona at one gourmet grocery,...


By your range, I enjoy eating the mid-range brands you mention, but I
have never cooked with them. (That doesn't sound right - what do you
call it when you make candies? Candy-made? Candied?)


"Confectionery".

I have tried
several of the quality brands you mentioned, but my opinion differs from
your when it comes to Ghirardelli. I much prefer Scharffenberger.


With your Valrhona comment above, I believe you prefer extremely fruity
chocolate. In that case, these 2 brands, Valrhona and Scharffen Berger,
will no doubt be the ones you like best, because they have the most
aggressively fruity taste.

Perhaps the best of the Valrhona line, and the best chocolate for your
application and taste preference, is Guanaja 70%, a fine chocolate in every
sense of the term. It will make extraordinary truffles. If that's too hard
to find, get Le Noir Amer. I'm partial to 70%'s for truffles - they have a
good chocolate punch but retain enough sugar that when cream is added, the
result doesn't taste flat, like 80%+ chocolates tend to taste in truffles.
Both of these you can get from Chocosphere, if your preference is on-line
(
http://www.chocosphere.com). You may also be able to cajole your gourmet
supermarket into bringing them in. Certainly Le Noir Amer will easily sell
almost anywhere.

Which Ghirardelli bars have you tried? It's worth noting that the "Sweet
Dark" chocolate, also sold simply as "Dark Chocolate" isn't especially
good. The Semi-Sweet and Bittersweet are considerably better. But that's
personal opinion, at least to an extent.

For
milk chocolate, the best I've tasted is British Cadburys - not the
exported American version, but the real deal.


You've got to try more milk chocolate! It's easy to do much better than
Cadbury's. Actually, if anything, I think the USA version is a bit better
than the UK version. It's possible, however, that you like extreme
sweetness in your milk chocolate, in which case try Enric Rovira.
Otherwise, you might wish to try Valrhona's Jivara, or Guittard's Soleil
D'Or. Again, you can get both from Chocosphere.

--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)
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Old 26-01-2004, 03:30 AM
frood
 
Posts: n/a
Default Product reviews?

Do you mean the same brand of chocolate? That seems to make sense to me.
Thanks for giving me a starting place for experimenting with confectionery.
G

--
Wendy
http://griffinsflight.com/Quilting/quilt1.htm
De-Fang email address to reply
"Alex Rast" wrote in message
...
at Sun, 25 Jan 2004 15:16:50 GMT in
,
You should also use the same chocolate for the centers. This means the

flavour will be properly balanced. Don't use one chocolate for all

coatings
if you're making centers with different chocolates.
With your Valrhona comment above, I believe you prefer extremely fruity
chocolate. In that case, these 2 brands, Valrhona and Scharffen Berger,
will no doubt be the ones you like best, because they have the most
aggressively fruity taste.

Perhaps the best of the Valrhona line, and the best chocolate for your
application and taste preference, is Guanaja 70%, a fine chocolate in

every
sense of the term. It will make extraordinary truffles. If that's too hard
to find, get Le Noir Amer. I'm partial to 70%'s for truffles - they have a
good chocolate punch but retain enough sugar that when cream is added, the
result doesn't taste flat, like 80%+ chocolates tend to taste in truffles.
Both of these you can get from Chocosphere, if your preference is on-line
(http://www.chocosphere.com). You may also be able to cajole your gourmet
supermarket into bringing them in. Certainly Le Noir Amer will easily sell
almost anywhere.

Which Ghirardelli bars have you tried? It's worth noting that the "Sweet
Dark" chocolate, also sold simply as "Dark Chocolate" isn't especially
good. The Semi-Sweet and Bittersweet are considerably better. But that's
personal opinion, at least to an extent.

For
milk chocolate, the best I've tasted is British Cadburys - not the
exported American version, but the real deal.


You've got to try more milk chocolate! It's easy to do much better than
Cadbury's. Actually, if anything, I think the USA version is a bit better
than the UK version. It's possible, however, that you like extreme
sweetness in your milk chocolate, in which case try Enric Rovira.
Otherwise, you might wish to try Valrhona's Jivara, or Guittard's Soleil
D'Or. Again, you can get both from Chocosphere.

--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)





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Old 26-01-2004, 01:27 PM
marian
 
Posts: n/a
Default Product reviews?


I buy from Sparrow,
http://www.chocolatebysparrow.com/default.php4
Their prices are good and service excellent.
Marian


"frood" wrote in message
om...
I am looking for chocolate to make truffles with. Specifically, I want to
find couverture. I prefer thin coat to thick. I do not have a preference

for
liquor content, as I make different centers, and can use just about any
"darkness" of coating.

Locally, there is some Valrhona at one gourmet grocery, but only with
hazelnut, something I do not care for. There is a chocolate candy retail
store, but between the poor customer service, and the mediocre quality, I
don't bother to spend my money there. I usually buy online.



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Old 26-01-2004, 10:59 PM
Alex Rast
 
Posts: n/a
Default Product reviews?

at Mon, 26 Jan 2004 03:30:18 GMT in
,
(frood) wrote :

Do you mean the same brand of chocolate? That seems to make sense to me.
Thanks for giving me a starting place for experimenting with
confectionery.


I assume you're referring to the comment below? No, I mean use the same
exact chocolate. So if you use Valrhona Guanaja 70% for the coating
chocolate, you should use Valrhona Guanaja 70% for the centers as well. But
my second half of the comment refers to centers with different flavours.
The classic truffle is simply chocolate and cream. But it's become
commonplace to refer to chocolates with any variety of fillings, ranging
from coffee to hazelnut to raspberry as "truffles". I think that's OK
provided the center itself is mostly ganache, flavoured with something
else, as opposed to a solid filling of some other ingredient. In any case,
if you are making truffles as just described, i.e. with a primarily ganache
filling flavoured with something else, you shouldn't use the same chocolate
for all of the different filling types, as different chocolates match best
with different ingredients. For instance, a 70%-class chocolate wouldn't
work well for coffee or hazelnut, in coffee's case because the combined
strength is overwhelming, in hazelnut's case because the flavour of
chocolate would completely dominate the milder hazelnut flavour. Coffee
calls for a dark-roasted, but relatively sweet, dark chocolate, such as
Schokinag 50%, Cafe-Tasse 59%, or Caffarel Cioccolato Fondente. Hazelnuts,
meanwhile, work best with milk chocolate, the best choice being a nutty
variety like Slitti Lattenero 62%. The point here is not to get stuck on
one brand or blend, because different ones work better with different
flavours.

"Alex Rast" wrote in message
.. .
at Sun, 25 Jan 2004 15:16:50 GMT in
,
You should also use the same chocolate for the centers. This means
the

flavour will be properly balanced. Don't use one chocolate for all

coatings
if you're making centers with different chocolates.



--
Alex Rast

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Old 13-02-2004, 08:02 AM
Blake Jones
 
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Default Product reviews?

In article , Alex Rast wrote:
I am looking for chocolate to make truffles with. Specifically, I want to
find couverture. I prefer thin coat to thick. ...


You should also use the same chocolate for the centers. This means the
flavour will be properly balanced.


This is a good guideline, but it's not always the best solution. Frequently
when I make a truffle with a fairly sweet (even milk) ganache, I'll coat it
with something like Cluizel 85% to bring the overall chocolate flavor up a
bit; IMHO it's a pretty successful combination. And when I dip multiple
different flavors of ganache at the same time, I sometimes just go with a
fairly middle-of-the-road couverture like Valrhona Caraibe which won't clash
too badly with any one ganache, to minimize the overhead of tempering.

If you're making *lots* of chocolates, using couverture-quality chocolate
for the ganache can get expensive, but presumably anyone who's working on
that scale isn't going to be reading rec.food.chocolate.

Blake

--
The listed "From:" address is valid for one week past the message date.
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Old 20-02-2004, 08:47 AM
Lars Marowsky-Bree
 
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Default Product reviews?

On 04-02-13 08:02:51, Blake Jones wrote:

If you're making *lots* of chocolates, using couverture-quality chocolate
for the ganache can get expensive, but presumably anyone who's working on
that scale isn't going to be reading rec.food.chocolate.


And I'd assume if they are, they will know that there is no such thing
as too high quality chocolate ;-)


--
http://lars.marowsky-bree.de/disclaimer.html
http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/wis.../ref=wl_em_to/
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