Section: Locating Good Bar Chocolate
This section is
about couverture, the best-quality chocolate used in good baking
and candymaking. Most of these chocolates are available in bars
of over 8 ounces or so, though many companies carry smaller
bars as well. This chocolate will be expensive, as it's "the
good stuff", but using it will make a huge difference in your
end results. Please comparison- shop before you buy! As with
anything else, doing so can save you quite a bit of money. It's
best to order this chocolate during the cooler months; many
companies either don't ship during warmer weather or require
special shipping/packaging then, thus increasing your costs.
Who makes the best
chocolate? Sure, I could tell you the brands I favor, but your
tastes will probably be very different. Please try a number
of the brands listed below. With high-quality chocolate, the
only "best" brand is the one you like the most. All of the brands
listed in this section have reputations for excellence, but
all are unique to work with and no two will taste the same.
indicated, all phone numbers listed are toll free. You'll have
to check individual websites to see if electronic ordering is
possible. If there are no comments after a company, it only
means I don't know much about them. The companies are not listed
in any particular order.
El Rey, Bernard C. Also Fenton & Lee wafers, to which I'm quite
Valrhona, bars from The Chocolate Society (in London).
Lindt, Michel Cluizel, Callebaut, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger.
Chocovic, Carma, Valrhona.
Cacao Barry, Callebaut, Lindt. You must click on individual
chocolate listings to see bar sizes here, and the sizes seem
to be mostly in metric (after all, these bars are made in Europe).
The product descriptions tell you a particular chocolate's best
uses, a nice feature.
Callebaut, Michel Cluizel, Valrhona, Cote D'Or, Scharffen Berger.
--Dean & Deluca.
This company no longer carries couverture in their catalog or
on their website. However, their customer service department
has assured me that the individual stores still carry couverture
and will ship it as requested. I called the New York City store,
and their couverture is priced by the pound (they'll sell as
little as one-quarter pound). The New York store carries Valrhona,
Michel Cluizel, and Callebaut; the stores in other locations
may stock different chocolates or have other shipping policies,
so it pays to check. Phone numbers: for the New York store,
(800) 999-0306; for the California store, (877) 332-6946; and
for the Washington, D.C. store, (800) 925-7854.
Bean Company (800) LUV-CHOC or www.omanhene.com. Omanhene makes
a lovely dark milk chocolate (yes, you read that correctly).
As of this writing, the chocolate should be available in 80
gram bars--under 8 ounces, to be sure, but this chocolate is
worth trying and using.
--Sur La Table
(800) 243-0852 or www.surlatable.com. Scharffen Berger. A very
--The King Arthur
Flour Baker's Catalogue (800) 827-6836 or www.kingarthurflour.com.
Merckens, Van Leer, Guittard, Peter's, Scharffen Berger, and
others. Great catalog and swift service.
--A Cook's Wares
(800) 915-9788 or www.cookswares.com. Callebaut, Merckens. Another
company with a beautiful catalog.
366-5900, ext. 96 or www.gourmail.com. Callebaut, Cacao Barry,
Valrhona, Peter's. Several unusual baking/decorating ingredients.
A sixty dollar minimum order (split it with a friend if you
don't need that much chocolate).
(800) 328-6722 or www.sweetc.com. Callebaut, Valrhona, Merckens,
Peter's. Reliable, fast service and a great catalog.
The above listings
are not exhaustive, but they'll give you good places to start
your search. Do try at least several different brands, and don't
be afraid to keep comparing what you like against other chocolates;
it's the only way to discover what works best for you.