Chocolate-Almond Petit Fours

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Chocolate Spritz Cookies

Sour Cream Fudge

Gateau Rosie O.

Sweet Spot


Special 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.

Unless otherwise 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 partial. Valrhona, bars from The Chocolate Society (in London). Lindt, Michel Cluizel, Callebaut, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger. Chocovic, Carma, Valrhona. Cote D'Or. 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. Lindt. 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.

--Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company (800) LUV-CHOC or 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 Scharffen Berger. A very pretty catalog.

--The King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue (800) 827-6836 or Merckens, Van Leer, Guittard, Peter's, Scharffen Berger, and others. Great catalog and swift service.

--A Cook's Wares (800) 915-9788 or Callebaut, Merckens. Another company with a beautiful catalog.

--Gourmail (800) 366-5900, ext. 96 or 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).

--Sweet Celebrations (800) 328-6722 or 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.