MARCH 1999
RECIPES

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Chunks and Pecans

My Grandmother's Truffles



Sweet Spot

 


A Short Course in Locating Good Bar Chocolate:

I've gotten so many questions on where to get good couverture chocolate lately that I thought I'd list some of the sources out there. Please bear in mind that "the good stuff" is going to be expensive, but make sure you look around and compare prices before you order, because that can save you money. These suggestions relate to chocolate in (mostly) larger bars, the type that must be chopped before use, most often employed for candymaking. Note that many companies either won't ship chocolate in warm weather or require it to be shipped quickly and in special containers (thus increasing your costs).

Who makes good chocolate? That might be the ultimate in subjective questions. I could tell you the brands I like (and I do make a few recommendations), but I urge you to try a good number of chocolates and pick out a couple that suit your tastes. Good chocolate is about what you enjoy. All of the brands mentioned in this section have reputations for excellence, but all will work differently and no two will taste the same.

Your first step should be to look in your local phone book; try listings for "Chocolate and Cocoa" or "Candy Manufacturing Supplies". Call a few gourmet or specialty stores to see what they stock; I have been told by my local friendly Williams-Sonoma store that they carry one pound bars of Bernard C. couverture (see below for more on this chocolate). Ask a local candy manufacturer if they'll sell you some of what they use (I've found one who will). Health food stores are beginning to carry a wider variety of chocolates these days, too, but most of the bars they have are small. If none of that works, you can go to catalogs, the Internet, or both. I have listed a number of companies to enable you to do some comparison shopping. Bars offered will vary greatly in size from company to company.

Most of the following companies have websites, but the form or size of chocolate indicated is not listed there; you'll have to call them:

  • Guittard Chocolate Company (800) HOT-CHOC (468-2462) or www.guittard.com. Their main consumer product is chocolate chips (which are very good), but a representative assures me that consumers who contact them can be pointed toward a distributor, and the distributor will be able to tell them how to obtain bar chocolate. Long before I ever thought of doing a chocolate column, I worked for this company as an R & D intern, and I know they make excellent chocolate.
  • Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company (800) LUV-CHOC (588-2462) or www.omanhene.com. This company makes an outstanding dark milk chocolate (yes, a dark milk chocolate) in very small bars (0.7 ozs. each). In addition to the products listed on the website, I am told that the bars are available in lots of sixty, the equivalent of just over 2.6 lbs. of chocolate.
  • The King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue (800) 827-6836 or www.kingarthurflour.com. Merckens, Van Leer, Guittard, Peter's, and others. I have found this company to be professional, reliable, and knowledgeable.
  • Sweet Celebrations (800) 328-6722 www.sweetc.com. Callebaut, Valrhona, Merckens, Peter's. Another reliable company, with very swift product shipping.
  • A Cook's Wares (800) 915-9788 or www.cookswares.com. Callebaut, Van Leer, Merckens.
  • Sur La Table (800) 243-0852. Valrhona.

The following companies sell couverture that is listed on their websites.

  • Gourmail (800) 366-5900, ext. 96 or www.gourmail.com. Callebaut, Cacao Barry, Valrhona, Peter's. A sixty dollar minimum order (split an order with a friend if you don't need that much chocolate).
  • Dean & Deluca (800) 221-7714 or www.dean-deluca.com. Click on "baking". Scharffen Berger, Michel Cluizel. I think Michel Cluizel makes great chocolate, and I am pleased to see it offered here.
  • www.chocosphere.com. Callebaut.
  • www.chocolatepicure.com. Valrhona, bars from The Chocolate Society (in London).
  • www.onlygourmet.com. El Rey, Bernard C. I have enjoyed Bernard C.'s small chocolates before, and I believe that their couverture is definitely worth trying. Also Fenton & Lee wafers, to which I'm quite partial.
  • www.gourmetmarket.com. Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona.
  • www.swissconnection.com. Lindt.

The above listings are not exhaustive, I'm sure, but they should give you a few good starting points for experimenting with couvertures. Take your time, try various brands, and don't be afraid to keep comparing what you like against other chocolates. That's the only way you'll find what works best for you.


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