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Chocolate ??

Posted by lizbeth-gardener (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 1:52

I am starting to do more baking with chocolate and would like recommendations for different brands. In some recipes the author will recommend that you use a really good quality, but doesn't give any suggestions for brands. Can someone give me some guidelines as to the quality of different brands. Top end, middle and ones to by-pass? Would like info. on the different kinds: milk chocolate, semi and bittersweet, dark and also white (even if you don't consider it chocolate).

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Chocolate ??

I like Ghiradelli as a good all-purpose, inexpensive chocolate for baking. Easy to melt and incorporate into a recipe or chop into chunks for really great chocolate chunk cookies it is my "go to".

Callebaut is wonderful, but a little pricey.

Baker's is a great inexpensive chocolate and is readily available at any grocery store.

Those are my favs,,,, I have used Scharffen Berger but didn't love it and it was expensive IMO.


RE: Chocolate ??

If you are near a Trader Joe's, then try their Pound Plus bars. They come in different formulations. The one I have now is 72% dark chocolate, red package, and I find it good for many applications but I use it seldomly. It gets fabulous reviews on line, maybe chowhound and certainly others. This 17.6 oz. bar will set you back $5.00. Worth a shot for this potentially expensive commodity. And btw, it is imported from Belgium.

RE: Chocolate ??

"Best" is so subjective and I think it depends on what you are making, what's available in your area, how much are you willing to pay, and would anyone eating it know or care.

The link below has a nice list of "gourmet" chocolate products along with company history to help know what's available.

You might also take a peek a The Cook's Thesaurus -

I follow these rules:

-I read the ingredients list and if it includes a fat other than cocoa butter, I put it back.

-If it contains soy lecithin, I put it back. I prefer pure chocolate.

-Depending on the recipe, as a general rule, I try not to use chocolate chips for melting. You won't notice the difference if it's something like Chex Muddy Buddies, but it could make a difference in a cake. WHY... chocolate chips usually have a lower cocoa butter content so they can retain their shape during baking. But when you need to melt them for baking (brownies/truffles/cakes, etc.) it will be different than a bar or bulk block of real chocolate. There may also be some stabilizers in chocolate chips that aren't in bars and bulk blocks of chocolate.

-You can take a bar of less expensive chocolate and add a little coffee for part of the liquid ingredients in the recipe, which can help to bring out the rich, dark notes of the chocolate. A frugal tip....;-)


Here is a link that might be useful: World Wide Chocolate

RE: Chocolate ??

Hands down, Ghirardelli. I also like Valrhona. Last, but not least, Olive and Sinclair. A Nashville favorite! Y'all can order them too if you want online, linked below.
What they wrote on Cooking Channel. Their show is Unique Sweets (Cooking Channel) and the episode where they were featured was "Sweet Crafters".

We meet some of America's most imaginative food crafters who are churning out sweet treats. Nashville's Olive & Sinclair makes artisanal chocolates and brittles with a Southern twist...

Some really tasty mousse made from Olive and Sinclair

Here is a link that might be useful: Olive and Sinclair-Handcrafted chocoloate

RE: Chocolate ??

I think it depends on your reasons. If using chocolate because you have heard it is good for you, then you need to snob-up and really pay attention to labeling. All healthy benefits are void if overly processed. Heat and chemically treated and stripped of anything good, then added corn sugars and artificial flavorings. Raw cacoa beans are very bitter. I happen to like them and can be interesting to cook with. I like the bitterness when paired with natural fruit sugars. A nice balance.
But needing a baking chocolate last fall before the holidays i had some trouble with labeling. If the first or second ingredient is sugar, you will obviously be paying much less. Sugar is cheap.
I was not really looking for healthy chocolate. I just did not want alkali processed like the label on the TraderJoe's package, (it was a chopped chunk style, not the block).
I ended up at a chef supply and settled on E.Guittard. At that point i did not care about price as my eyes were bleeding from trying to choose. I needed something to melt nice and be bittersweet to go well with a caramel and candied ginger that i had been wanting to make.

A shame chocolate recipes are so vague. I'm not convinced i purchased the best one but starting with a quality bittersweet can become many things by adding more sugars, cream, good vanilla, etc, to get the different final product you want. You control the ingredients and end up with a better confection.

This link helps a little bit.
(i agree with grainlady about looking at ingredients once you know what you are reading)

Here is a link that might be useful: how to buy chocolate

RE: Chocolate ??

That looks so good I would have some every day.


RE: Chocolate ??

So what should the ingredient list say and a pure bag of chocolate?

snob up - LOL!!! I keep snobbing up and my grocery bill keeps going up.

RE: Chocolate ??

A "snobbing up" mistake may be using 70% or 100% cacao if the recipe was developed using 55%-60%. The flavor could be all "wrong", so check the recipes for information for the type of chocolate they use.

I want-
-60%-70% cacao
-Does NOT contain cocoa
-NO soy lecithin
-Cocoa butter, but no other fats

Even plain old Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate has one ingredient listed - CHOCOLATE.


RE: Chocolate ??

Thanks to all of you for the quick and informative responses. I have bookmarked all of the links and feel like I know much more than I did when I posted and will have a reference to go to when the need next arises.

Caliloo: Good to know of a good all purpose one (Ghiradelli). Do you remember what you disliked about the Scharffen Berger?

Westsider: Trader Joe's Pound Plus (and Belgium!) I will have to try that.

Grainlady: I will definitely read the list of ingredients now that I know what I need/want. Also, good to learn about the chocolate chips and the coffee tip.

Rob333: Another vote for Ghiradelli and Valrhona is one I haven't tried. The mousse does look delicious and their website listings sound very tempting!

Sleevendog: I'm not looking for dark chocolate to eat for health reasons, but just for cooking/baking with chocolate. That website looks really informative.

Makayla: I agree-maybe we could share!

RE: Chocolate ??

Also remember with cocoa, dutch processed and regular processed cocoa are not interchangeable. I learned that the hard way when I used Hersey's Special Dark Cocoa instead of their regular cocoa in a recipe that called for regular cocoa. The cookies didn't taste as good or work as well as usual. I didn't know until later that the Special Dark stuff is half dutch processed and half regular. I have no idea what that could be used for except hot cocoa.

I also learned, when trying to follow a recipe that called for dutch processed cocoa, that it's hard to find.


RE: Chocolate ??

I have taken lecithin pills in the past to improve my memory - I do not know why lecithin would be a problem in chocolate - I would prefer chocolate with lecithin, since it is a useful ingredient, and I think it has many benefits.


RE: Chocolate ??

Quality chocolate shouldn't require an emulsifier and stabilizer (to keep the water and fat from separating). As with all soy products, including soy lecithin, I avoid them when at all possible - but that's me - and I would certainly avoid them in chocolate.

You can get naturally-occurring lecithin from eggs, which are actually higher in phospholipids (30%) than soybean oil (1.48 - 3.08%) and vegetable oils (0.5%). Personally, I'd skip any supplement of lecithin and opt for adding a few more eggs to my diet, but that's me (let food be your medicine and medicine be your food - kinda' thing).

Prior to the 1930s, eggs were the primary source of commercial lecithin, but now "lecithin is a generic name to a whole class of fat- and water-soluble compounds called phospholipids."

"Soybean lecithin comes from the sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a "degumming" process. It is a waste product containing residues of solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid." (Source: "The Whole Soy Story" by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN)

Yesterday I caught an episode of America's Test Kitchen where "Doc" Willoughby visited a chocolate factory and watched the chocolate-making process. The episode is linked below for anyone interested in seeing the process (and luckily it's the first of the episode). They aged the chocolate, which is more time consuming. Addition of lecithin is probably the easy way out if you don't age it.


Here is a link that might be useful: America's Test Kitchen

RE: Chocolate ??

I also like Ghiradelli's, it's actually available here for a short drive, so that's a double bonus.

I also like the Trader Joe's Pound Plus dark chocolate, the milk chocolate not so much.

My small local grocery has Hershey's, Nestle and Baker's, so if I want some this minute, I'm kind of stuck.

I've purchased Callebault, which is good but I do not think it's worth the price, especially with shipping, for my purposes. I also like Valhrona and Droste, but have to make special efforts to purchase them, and I seldom think ahead that far.

I do like the Dutch Processed cocoa, I have some Rodelle in the pantry that I enjoy the flavor of very much, but I have found that some of my baking recipes require a bit of adjustment, the recipes that call for baking powder or a combination of baking powder and baking soda work for the most part, those calling for just soda don't. Some other acid in the recipe, such as lemon juice also helps.


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