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 28-04-2004, 01:49 AM
Reg
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

I use a steady supply of 10 lb blocks of Guittard gourmet bittersweet.
The ingredients list the following: Bittersweet chocolate (chocolate
liquor processed with potassium carbonate, sugar, cocoa butter, butter oil),
soya lecithin and pure vanilla.

For those who are familiar with it, how does this chocolate rate?
Is there a higher quality brand of bulk chocolate that costs about
the same? I could actually afford to budget a bit more if there's enough
of a difference in quality. I realize that this is subjective but any
input would be helpful.

Thanks.

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Old 28-04-2004, 04:14 AM
Mark Thorson
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

Reg wrote:

Is there a higher quality brand of bulk chocolate that costs
about the same?


How much do you pay?



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Old 28-04-2004, 04:46 AM
Reg
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

Mark Thorson wrote:

Reg wrote:


Is there a higher quality brand of bulk chocolate that costs
about the same?



How much do you pay?




Oops, I left that out. $21.68 USD for a 10 lb block.

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Old 28-04-2004, 05:41 AM
Mark Thorson
 
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Reg wrote:

Mark Thorson wrote:

Oops, I left that out. $21.68 USD for a 10 lb block.


Really? That's so cheap, you could seriously think about
building a house out of it, if you live someplace cold,
like Klamath Falls. (Now, if I could only find a cheap
source of gingerbread. :-)




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Old 28-04-2004, 09:06 AM
Alex Rast
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

at Wed, 28 Apr 2004 00:49:49 GMT in
, (Reg)
wrote :

I use a steady supply of 10 lb blocks of Guittard gourmet bittersweet.

....

For those who are familiar with it, how does this chocolate rate?


Unbelievably great. This is one of the best chocolates in the world, *at
any price*.

Is there a higher quality brand of bulk chocolate that costs about
the same?


No. In fact the only chocolate that IMHO could arguably be said to be
better is Amedei's Chuao, and in the USA, that's an astonishing $54.95/1 kg
bloc! (although it's worth every penny)

I could actually afford to budget a bit more if there's enough
of a difference in quality.


It's not so much a difference in quality, but a difference in intended
application. There *are* better chocolates for specific applications, of
varying prices. For instance, I'd make the following recommendations:

For chocolate decadence, and most flourless chocolate tortes: Michel
Cluizel Hacienda Concepcion. Second place: Callebaut 7030 bittersweet.

For chocolate ice cream : El Rey Gran Saman.

For chocolate cakes : Guittard L'Harmonie 64%.

For chocolate mousse : Michel Cluizel Hacienda Mangaro

For chocolate-dipped fruit : Michel Cluizel Hacienda Los Ancones. Actually
better still is Domori Porcelana, but AFAIK it's not available in bulk
format. And we're *really* talking splitting hairs here, because Los
Ancones is another of the really world-class chocolates, right up there
with Gourmet Bittersweet and Amedei Chuao.

These are just some examples. But if you don't want to obsess, and
precisely match chocolates to specific applications, Gourmet Bittersweet is
one of those extraordinarily versatile, general-purpose chocolates that
fits a variety of situations. My recommendation is to stick with it and
enjoy the good fortune all of us in the USA have in having access to an
incredibly cheap, incredibly good chocolate.


--
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Old 28-04-2004, 09:28 AM
Blake Jones
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

In article , Alex Rast wrote:
I use a steady supply of 10 lb blocks of Guittard gourmet bittersweet.
For those who are familiar with it, how does this chocolate rate?


Unbelievably great. This is one of the best chocolates in the world,
*at any price*.


Out of curiosity, Alex, why (besides "versatility") do you rate this
chocolate so highly? It doesn't seem to be made with particularly
highfalutin' beans, and the original poster's ingredient list suggests
that it's not even made with pure cocoa butter. I've seen you sing its
praises many times, so I know this isn't just a passing fancy. I've
never tried it myself; I've been meaning to get some, based on your
frequent recommendations, but I haven't come across a place that sells
it in break-up, and I haven't felt like getting a whole 10 lb. block.

Blake

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Old 28-04-2004, 11:53 PM
Alex Rast
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

at Wed, 28 Apr 2004 08:28:22 GMT in ,
(Blake Jones) wrote :

In article , Alex Rast wrote:
I use a steady supply of 10 lb blocks of Guittard gourmet bittersweet.
For those who are familiar with it, how does this chocolate rate?


Unbelievably great. This is one of the best chocolates in the world,
*at any price*.


Out of curiosity, Alex, why (besides "versatility") do you rate this
chocolate so highly? It doesn't seem to be made with particularly
highfalutin' beans, and the original poster's ingredient list suggests
that it's not even made with pure cocoa butter.


One important fact to remember is that there is nothing that makes a
chocolate with highly pedigreed beans, especially pure formulations, or
anything else automatically better. It all comes down to how it tastes, and
in that respect there can be good chocolates made with cheaper ingredients
just as much as more expensive ones. There is a *statistical* correlation
between the more elite beans and the better chocolates, but it's not
automatic.

Why so highly? This is going to take a bit of explanation. When tasting
different chocolates, it's typical to assign various flavour descriptors to
them, like "strawberry", "licorice", or "hazelnut. This denotes flavour
components, reminiscent of their descriptor, that you detect in the
chocolate. Some are more desirable, some rather less so. It may seem self-
evident, but the most desirable flavour characteristic of all is
"chocolatey". Namely, there is a flavour that you can only describe using
this adjective, which literally seems to capture the essence of the
chocolate flavour.

Most chocolates have a mix of different flavour components, e.g.
strawberry, cream, and tobacco; woody/molasses; hazelnut and coffee. A
better chocolate will have these components well balanced, so that no one
flavour characteristic is so assertive that it becomes distracting,
overwhelming, or harsh, so that the combination of characteristics don't
clash, and so that the combination of characteristics don't cluster too
closely around a single basic type. For instance, a chocolate which had
flavour components of cherry, strawberry, and currant would be imbalanced,
because it would be excessively fruity. A chocolate with components of
cinnamon, coconut, and currant would introduce clashing flavours. And a
chocolate that tasted entirely of blackberry would be too overwhelming and
harsh.

But, some components can be present at higher intensities and not be harsh,
and others blend together better with other flavour components present. For
instance, strawberry flavour can be present at pretty high intensity, and
doesn't usually cause a big problem. Almond flavours blend very well with a
wide variety of other typical chocolate flavour components. So you can get
away with more one-dimensional chocolates, or ones with higher intensities,
with the right characteristics. In particular, you can get away with
"chocolatey" as much as you want, by definition, because it's the center-
point of the chocolate flavour spectrum and a chocolate that tastes
chocolatey is inherently balanced.

In fact, the "perfect" chocolate would be one where the *only* flavour
component present were chocolatey, at infinite intensity. This idealised,
archetypal chocolate would literally embody chocolate, conveying its very
essence with every bite.

And as it turns out, Guittard Gourmet Bittersweet's taste is almost
*entirely* chocolatey, with very, very few other components detectable, and
better still, it delivers this flavour with a powerful wallop - in fact
relative to its percentage (63%) it seems unusually strong. Thus it is a
very close approximation to our idealised prototype.

Its biggest fault, indeed, is not in flavour, but in texture, where, as you
might suspect from the ingredient list you have, it's not as good as
certain other chocolates, being a bit rough, not quite so incredibly
creamy. I'll also point out that I don't consider including milkfat in
chocolate to be dishonourable - it is, after all, a noble ingredient with a
traditional place in the chocolate industry - otherwise wherefore milk
chocolate? Or truffles? There's a fine line - where does it end? I respect
and give credit to companies that don't use soy lecithin (e.g. Cluizel or
Domori), but again, I won't downgrade companies solely on their decision to
use it: lecithin use has been established in the elite companies for a long
time now. Vegelate, by contrast, I think crosses the line - when you start
using palm kernel oil or worse still, Crisco, to substitute for cocoa
butter not only are you using a product that has no traditional place in
the chocolate industry, but also which worsens the flavour and texture very
noticeably.

Interestingly, Guittard seems to do much better in the 60-65% class than in
other cocoa percentage classes. L'Harmonie, at 64%, is also world-class,
and Lever du Soleil, at 61%, along with Sur Del Lago, at 65%, are
excellent. But La Nuit Noir, at 55%, is pretty poor, and Coucher Du Soleil,
at 72%, is good but could use some tweaking. My suspicion is that this
percentage is the personal preference of a key person there, such as the
president, or the head taster, or possibly the group of senior executives.

So there you have it, the breakdown on Gourmet Bittersweet. Where are you
at? I can probably either point you at a source or send you some, depending
on your situation. Then you'll know what the fuss is all about.

--
Alex Rast

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Old 29-04-2004, 01:03 AM
Blake Jones
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

In article , Alex Rast wrote:
One important fact to remember is that there is nothing that makes a
chocolate with highly pedigreed beans, especially pure formulations,
or anything else automatically better. It all comes down to how it
tastes


It absolutely does.

[...]

And as it turns out, Guittard Gourmet Bittersweet's taste is almost
*entirely* chocolatey, with very, very few other components
detectable, and better still, it delivers this flavour with a powerful
wallop - in fact relative to its percentage (63%) it seems unusually
strong.


I can understand where you're coming from. My favorite blue cheese is
the Mountain Gorgonzola from Clin, and the only reason I've been able to
give is that it delivers a singular, strong flavor which I feel is the
"idealized" blue cheese taste.

I'll also point out that I don't consider including milkfat in
chocolate to be dishonourable


Of course, it has its place. As you said, it's all about how it tastes.
It just seemed to me that the term used to describe it ("butter oil")
suggested that it was being used as a cocoa butter replacer, rather than
a flavor enhancer; presumably it doesn't have any of the tasty non-fat
milk solids that milk and cream have.

So there you have it, the breakdown on Gourmet Bittersweet.


Thanks for the scoop! It's interesting to see such details from someone
who clearly loves their chocolate.

Where are you at? I can probably either point you at a source or send
you some, depending on your situation.


I'm just north of Guittard Central, in San Francisco. There are lots of
local retailers in town that have the little L'Harmonie and Soleil d'Or
samplers, a fair number that carry a selection of the 1 kg E. Guittard
bars, and there's a wholesaler just south of here that has pretty much
the complete Guittard line, including the 10 lb. Gourmet Bittersweet.
But I haven't found a place that has GB in less than 10 lb. quantities.

So if you happen to know of any place in the SFBA that carries it in
smaller quantities, that would be great. If not, I'd suggest a mail
swap - e.g. there's a retailer here that's selling partial slabs of
Domori's Carenero Superior couverture, at a price point that's more
appealing than their 8g samplers - but it's been getting pretty hot
recently, and the proper packing material might cost more than the
chocolate...

Blake

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Old 30-04-2004, 12:07 AM
Alex Rast
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

at Thu, 29 Apr 2004 00:03:42 GMT in ,
(Blake Jones) wrote :

In article , Alex Rast wrote:

....
I'll also point out that I don't consider including milkfat in
chocolate to be dishonourable


Of course, it has its place. As you said, it's all about how it tastes.
It just seemed to me that the term used to describe it ("butter oil")
suggested that it was being used as a cocoa butter replacer, rather than
a flavor enhancer; presumably it doesn't have any of the tasty non-fat
milk solids that milk and cream have.


It's clarified butter. I suspect some people might imagine something very
funky were going on if the term "ghee" were used. Chocolatiers have
experimented for years tweaking formulations with small to trace amounts of
various things, in order to achieve a specific desired texture and melting
properties. Soy lecithin is also used to reduce the proportion of cocoa
butter needed. Often the reason they do this is so that they can increase
the amount of non-fat cocoa solids included. In order to get by with an
absolutely pure cocoa butter formulation, your cocoa butter percentage has
to be a certain amount, and for a fixed sweetness, this means inevitably
reducing the amount of non-fat cocoa solids relative to what you can
achieve by other means. It only takes a small amount of certain additives
to make an enormous difference on the texture you can get with a fixed
amount of cocoa butter. So that gives you latititude to increase the
intensity of flavour by increasing the non-fat cocoa solids. Of course,
it's possible to achieve the same thing by reducing the amount of sugar,
and so, for instance, Domori has 80% cocoa solids in their Grand Blend
chocolate, with about the same intensity as certain 70% bars. However, this
comes at the expense of some sweetness, and if there's not enough sugar,
chocolate has a tendency to taste one-dimensional. Besides, many
professional chefs have specific sugar ratios they need and so given that
you're working under those constraints, your choices are either chocolate
with lower flavour intensity or chocolate with texture-enhancing additives.

Vegelate, meanwhile, is different, because both palm kernel oil and Crisco
make the texture decidedly worse, giving it a sticky mouthfeel like peanut
butter. And the flavour is also diminished. So in the case of vegelate, the
reasons for the addition can be reduced to the starkly obvious goal of
cutting costs. But neither soy lecithin nor milkfat are particularly cheap
(especially not milkfat, especially right now) and so usually the goal when
these crop up in chocolate is not to cut costs but to reach a specific set
of texture and flavour goals.

....
Where are you at? I can probably either point you at a source or send
you some, depending on your situation.


I'm just north of Guittard Central, in San Francisco. There are lots of
local retailers in town that have the little L'Harmonie and Soleil d'Or
samplers, a fair number that carry a selection of the 1 kg E. Guittard
bars, and there's a wholesaler just south of here that has pretty much
the complete Guittard line, including the 10 lb. Gourmet Bittersweet.
But I haven't found a place that has GB in less than 10 lb. quantities.

So if you happen to know of any place in the SFBA that carries it in
smaller quantities, that would be great.


First thing to do is to check the bulk bins at your local co-ops. Many of
them will carry Guittard because the major West Coast distributor to the
co-ops distributes Guittard, and Gourmet bittersweet is the distributor's
"standard" bulk-bin bittersweet offering.

Some supermarkets with bulk sections also have it, because if they have a
bulk section, and especially if they have a health-foods section, that is
likely to be stocked by the same distributor.

It's easy to get it (in low volume) by mail order, too - simply go to
http://www.dilettante.com where you can order it as "Premium Bittersweet
Couverture 63%" It comes in 9 oz sacks.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company also uses it as their standard bittersweet
- I can't recall if they sell the straight chocolate or not but I think so
and I'm sure if you asked nicely they would sell you some.

If after all this you're still out of options, then I'd be glad to send you
some - Seattle and SF aren't that far away.

If not, I'd suggest a mail
swap - e.g. there's a retailer here that's selling partial slabs of
Domori's Carenero Superior couverture, at a price point that's more
appealing than their 8g samplers


Are you sure this is the Carenero Superior varietal? TTBOMK Domori sells
blocs of the Grand Blend, Esmereldas, and Sur Del Lago but I've never seen
Carenero Superior offered in bloc form.

- but it's been getting pretty hot
recently, and the proper packing material might cost more than the
chocolate...


What really kills you is the shipping. Sending a double-packed, gel-iced
package FedEx Priority Overnight is a bomb. The packing material itself is
usually OK, price-wise, but what you're really paying for is the careful
shipping.


--
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Old 30-04-2004, 07:26 AM
Reg
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

Alex Rast wrote:

And as it turns out, Guittard Gourmet Bittersweet's taste is almost
*entirely* chocolatey, with very, very few other components detectable, and
better still, it delivers this flavour with a powerful wallop - in fact
relative to its percentage (63%) it seems unusually strong. Thus it is a
very close approximation to our idealised prototype.


Alex, this is pretty much what prompted me to ask the question about
the brand in the first place. I don't detect any background flavors
in it either, and it's helpful to hear some objective verification of
this.

Thanks very much.

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Old 02-05-2004, 01:44 AM
Kevin Archibald
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

Reg wrote in message ...
Alex Rast wrote:

And as it turns out, Guittard Gourmet Bittersweet's taste is almost
*entirely* chocolatey, with very, very few other components detectable, and
better still, it delivers this flavour with a powerful wallop - in fact
relative to its percentage (63%) it seems unusually strong. Thus it is a
very close approximation to our idealised prototype.


Alex, this is pretty much what prompted me to ask the question about
the brand in the first place. I don't detect any background flavors
in it either, and it's helpful to hear some objective verification of
this.

Thanks very much.


Reg:

I don't mean to be rude, or in poor taste; but would you be willing to
divulge your source for this Guittard chocolate?
Thanks,
_kevin archibald
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Old 02-05-2004, 02:08 AM
dexygus
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

I'm just north of Guittard Central, in San Francisco. There are lots of
local retailers in town that have the little L'Harmonie and Soleil d'Or
samplers, a fair number that carry a selection of the 1 kg E. Guittard
bars, and there's a wholesaler just south of here that has pretty much
the complete Guittard line, including the 10 lb. Gourmet Bittersweet.
But I haven't found a place that has GB in less than 10 lb. quantities.


i think sugar and spice in daly city carries it in 1# chunks. spun sugar in
berkeley may also carry it.

-dexygus


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Old 02-05-2004, 08:39 AM
Blake Jones
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

In article , dexygus wrote:
i think sugar and spice in daly city carries it in 1# chunks.
spun sugar in berkeley may also carry it.


Great ideas. I'll give 'em a try. Thanks.

Blake

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Old 02-05-2004, 08:48 AM
Blake Jones
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

I realized on Thursday that your description of a chocolate that had
very few other components detectable rang another bell with me: the 74%
Bitter Dark Chocolate bar from Mes Recettes de Provence. Unfortunately
it had nibs blended in with the bar, which made it hard to judge the
chocolate by itself, but when I tried to ignore the nibs I decided that
it had a flavor that seemed pretty much just like pure ideal chocolate.
I've only seen this bar in one or two places, and I haven't seen a
non-nibby version (much less a bulk version), so ultimately it's hard to
make a good comparison.

In article , Alex Rast wrote:
First thing to do is to check the bulk bins at your local co-ops. Many
of them will carry Guittard because the major West Coast distributor
to the co-ops distributes Guittard, and Gourmet bittersweet is the
distributor's "standard" bulk-bin bittersweet offering. [...]


The big co-op near me, which has perhaps the best bulk food selection of
any grocery store I've seen, doesn't carry it. They usually have El Rey
in break-up, as well as packaged bars from G&B and Valrhona, but I don't
remember seeing break-up Guittard. They might also have one that's not
labeled with a brand; if that's the case, and it's 63%, I'll assume it's
Guittard. I'll keep looking in any case.

there's a retailer here that's selling partial slabs of Domori's
Carenero Superior couverture


Are you sure this is the Carenero Superior varietal? TTBOMK Domori
sells blocs of the Grand Blend, Esmereldas, and Sur Del Lago but I've
never seen Carenero Superior offered in bloc form.


I happened to be in the store a couple weeks ago just as the proprietor
was unpacking and opening the box of bars, and I saw that it was
labelled by Domori as Carenero Superior. Domori mentions it on their
web site too, under "All Chocolate" - the "Couvertures" pull-down.

Blake
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Old 02-05-2004, 09:51 PM
Alex Rast
 
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Default Guittard gourmet bittersweet

at Sun, 02 May 2004 07:48:35 GMT in ,
(Blake Jones) wrote :

....
there's a retailer here that's selling partial slabs of Domori's
Carenero Superior couverture


Are you sure this is the Carenero Superior varietal? TTBOMK Domori
sells blocs of the Grand Blend, Esmereldas, and Sur Del Lago but I've
never seen Carenero Superior offered in bloc form.


I happened to be in the store a couple weeks ago just as the proprietor
was unpacking and opening the box of bars, and I saw that it was
labelled by Domori as Carenero Superior. Domori mentions it on their
web site too, under "All Chocolate" - the "Couvertures" pull-down.


OK, a mystery solved! I never did see anything other than a picture if I
click on "All Chocolate". I just assumed, for many months, that Domori's
site was either a work in progress or relatively sparse. But now it's clear
that this is yet another manifestation of an irritating Web navigation
problem I've got. Most sites with JavaScript pulldowns, I can't access.
(Whine: why is it that so many sites are giving no option but to use a
JavaScript pulldown menu to navigate their site? My problem, as it turns
out, is highly technical (i.e. not a browser incompatibility), but can't
more Web site designers be sensitive to the fact that there *are* other
users out there with incompatible browsers, for whom the simple inclusion
of a text menu as an alternate navigation method would end user
frustration, and give their site more hits, as well as more business to
their company?) Domori's site is perverse because I can navigate certain
parts, leading to the impression that nothing's wrong, but obviously,
there's a lot of invisible stuff.

Now that I know it's available, however, shouldn't be too hard for me to
track down the chocolate.


--
Alex Rast

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