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).
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.
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.
of the following companies have websites, but the form
or size of chocolate indicated is not listed there; you'll
have to call them:
(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
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.
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.
(800) 328-6722 www.sweetc.com. Callebaut, Valrhona,
Merckens, Peter's. Another reliable company, with
very swift product shipping.
(800) 915-9788 or www.cookswares.com. Callebaut, Van
(800) 243-0852. Valrhona.
following companies sell couverture that is listed on
(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).
(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
Valrhona, bars from The Chocolate Society (in London).
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.
Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona.
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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