HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Best High End Chocolate Bar

m
Mike Mar 27, 2006 04:06 PM

Lindt?, Perugina?, Scharfenberger?, Jacques Torres?, etc. -- the list can go on and on!

Who makes the best chocolate bar (dark or milk)that I can buy in a supermarket/gourmet store?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. b
    big o RE: Mike Mar 27, 2006 04:46 PM

    Michel Cluizel

    1 Reply
    1. re: big o
      j
      junglekitte RE: big o Mar 28, 2006 09:00 AM

      i second Michel Cluizel

    2. g
      Gary Soup RE: Mike Mar 27, 2006 07:21 PM

      The most expensive one would probably be the Amadei Chuao, which will set you back around $10 for a 1.75 oz. bar. "Best" is subjective; Amadei would have to compete with Domori, Michel Cluizel, Valhrona, el Rey, etc., not to mention some of its own other varietals (and the eccentric Amadei "9" blend).

      Link: http://eatingchinese.org

      1. s
        sivyaleah RE: Mike Mar 27, 2006 07:22 PM

        I recently tried Pralus, one of their very dark chocolate bars. Like nothing I'd ever had before - intense, floral, winey, really sophisticated tasting. I tried hard not to eat it all at once, but that was impossible. I tried one of their milk chocolates, I wasn't as impressed but that dark one, wow!

        Laurie

        1. m
          Mike R. RE: Mike Mar 28, 2006 07:48 AM

          Depends on where you live and how adventurous you want to get - supermarkets rarely carry the "highest-of-the-high" end - and then there's the 'Net.

          You can't find them everywhere (Scharffen Berger is now owned by Hershey's, so it's gotta be in wider distribution), but try B. CASTELLAIN (Macaibo and Coffee-flavored), BONNAT and (if you get real lucky) UTOPIA...all French. Michel Cluizel rates and has definitely gone to a broader swath of retail lately.

          Not the type of bars you'll want to polish off quickly.

          One last note: VALRHONA sends quality bars to Trader Joe's and they're a great deal, especially the 71%.

          1. d
            David Kahn RE: Mike Mar 28, 2006 01:00 PM

            Whole Foods is currently selling a 70% Colombian dark chocolate bar by Santander that I really like. The temper is a bit soft, but it has a very nice, mellow chocolate flavor without too much acid. As a very insightful poster on this board noted, it has a sort of marshmallow flavor that's really nice.

            Otherwise, check out Trader Joe's. They have, as Mike R. pointed out, Vahlrona Noir Amer, and sometimes they carry the 70% Ecuadorian and/or Venezuelan chocolate bars by Chocovic, both of which are very good.

            Fwiw, I think Scharfenberger is too acidic to make a good eating chocolate (though people tell me it's one of the best cooking chocolates around).

            4 Replies
            1. re: David Kahn
              c
              Candy RE: David Kahn Mar 28, 2006 01:54 PM

              I love the 70% Sharffen Berger. The thing is not to chew it but let small bits melt slowly in your mouth. The very fruity flavors come through that way.

              1. re: Candy
                m
                Mike R. RE: Candy Mar 28, 2006 04:44 PM

                Exactly...you have to savor the flavor until the very last melt-away layer.

                1. re: Candy
                  d
                  David Kahn RE: Candy Mar 29, 2006 01:25 PM

                  I agree that that's the right way to eat good chocolate; I just don't like the flavor of Sharffenberger. To me, it has an acidic aftertaste that I don't enjoy. But, this sort of thing totally subjective, and different people have different tastes.

                  Also, to complicate matters further, in my experience, many high-end chocolates are inconsistent over time. For example, I bought a quantity of the Domori Blend No. 1 from Chocosphere.com, and for a while it was my absolute favorite eating chocolate. Right before I ran out, I reordered, but the new stuff tasted different (and to my mind, not as good). I still had some of the old Blend No. 1 when the new arrived, so I was able to compare them directly, and no question, the flavor changed. I guess this shouldn't really be all that surprising. Cocoa beans are an agricultural product with flavor characteristics that vary with time, weather, location, and who knows what else.

                  Anyways, you're lucky if you enjoy Sharffenberger, because it's one of the few high-end chocolates that's relatively easy to find.

                2. re: David Kahn
                  w
                  wyf4lyf RE: David Kahn Mar 28, 2006 05:21 PM

                  I LOVE the Santander 70% chocolate! I'd never heard of it before until Gourmet Magazine did a chocolate tasting. I ordered some online, only to discover that our Linens 'n' Things carries it...who knew? They have a small section of gourmet foods there.

                3. p
                  paulj RE: Mike Mar 28, 2006 04:12 PM

                  At the start of March there was thread that started with the pickiest chocolate review that I've seen. A couple of Trade Joe's products barely made the list :-) Many of the best items were available from a mail order place in Oregon.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: paulj
                    r
                    rworange RE: paulj Mar 28, 2006 04:56 PM

                    I would like to thank the academy for being nominated the pickiest chocolate review ever. I'd like to thank my family for introducing me to Hershey's kisses as a child and for all the chocolate shops who have made this possible.

                    Anyway, I'm currently into Domari. They have a better guide to how to taste chocolate that in my original post. Here it is.

                    Yah know, come to think of it I haven't had a Hershey bar in a while. Maybe it is time to buy one to see how it tastes after all that pricy chocolate.

                    Link: http://www.domori.com/index.php?app=d...

                    1. re: rworange
                      s
                      Spoony Bard RE: rworange Mar 29, 2006 12:51 PM

                      >>Yah know, come to think of it I haven't had a Hershey bar in a while. Maybe it is time to buy one to see how it tastes after all that pricy chocolate.

                      Like mud, I'd bet. With the prevalance of milk (and milk products), the soft temper, and cheap blend, Hershey's is a completely different animal than any high-falutin chocolate bar. It's like the difference between Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a shot of Danesi espresso.

                      And rworange, with your epic posts I'd say you're one of the "pickiest" anything reviewers. Keep it up!

                      1. re: Spoony Bard
                        m
                        Mike R. RE: Spoony Bard Mar 29, 2006 04:33 PM

                        Gotta say that on rare occasions, Hershey SPECIAL DARK has a professional finish, fruity essence and is tolerable.

                        You can always chop up your unused bars and place in a double-boiler for hot chocolate, cakes, cookies and chocolate fondue. Why waste it?

                        1. re: Mike R.
                          r
                          rworange RE: Mike R. Mar 29, 2006 08:14 PM

                          Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar

                          SIGHT

                          Color: milk chocolate colored
                          Sheen: not much. A little muddy although a little light reflected off the front.

                          Divided into little rectangles with raised edges and the name ‘HERSHEY’ artistically etched on each piece

                          SOUND

                          Snap: absolutely none … silent, soft, velvety ‘snap’

                          AROMA

                          The primary aroma is of delicate cocoa laced with vanilla. The secondary aroma is lightly floral, reminiscent of fresh flowers.

                          Intensity: medium

                          Finish: I finished it immediately.

                          TASTE

                          Sweet and not at all bitter, no acidity. Like the aroma, vanilla … cocoa and milk

                          TEXTURE

                          Melts in your hand, not in your mouth. Surprisingly Hershey’s doesn’t melt easily. Much better texture if chewed. Soft texture compared to other chocolates

                          Surprisingly, the ingredient list is almost pristine: Milk chocolate (sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate). There is some lecithin and if it wasn’t for using vanillin, it would be truly impressive. No corn syrup here.

                          Sadly, I still really, really like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate … perhaps more than all high-priced, fancy chocolate I’ve been eating. I guess I will never have true couth.

                          As the site says "For years, this chocolate bar has simply been making people happy"

                          The history of the bar (link below) says that Milton Hershey believed everyone should enjoy the great taste of chocolate, not only the wealthy ... heh ... we've seem to have come full circle, eh?

                          Link: http://www.hersheys.com/products/deta...

                          1. re: rworange
                            a
                            AnneInMpls RE: rworange Mar 30, 2006 12:38 PM

                            > Sadly, I still really, really like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate … perhaps more than all high-priced, fancy chocolate I’ve been eating. I guess I will never have true couth.

                            Don't feel bad. You can't help it.

                            Here's my theory about the taste of Hershey's - those who ate Hershey's chocolate as children (e.g., most North Americans) still like it as adults, no matter how far their tastebuds have moved on. There's something about imprinting on that distinctive "sour milk" flavor when young.

                            Conversely, if you didn't grow up eating Hershey's chocolate, you *cannot* learn to like as an adult. My British friends tell me that they hate Hershey's chocolate - me, I still really like it, even though I'm a dark-chocolate fiend these days.

                            I have the same theory about Cadbury chocolate - it does nothing for me, but British people seem to really like it.

                            Anne

                            1. re: AnneInMpls
                              d
                              danna RE: AnneInMpls Apr 3, 2006 02:28 PM

                              Are Hershey's kisses the same as a hershey bar? If so, I can't agree w/ your theory...I despise a Hershey' kiss. However, there are plenty of childhood chocolates that I still cling to...M&Ms, Baby Ruths, etc.

                              I find the Hershey's Special Dark acceptable. So acceptable, I'm afraid, that I have had to beg a co-worker to stop leaving bags full in the break room!

                              1. re: danna
                                w
                                wyf4lyf RE: danna Apr 3, 2006 02:47 PM

                                And they have just come out with a bag of Miniatures made with the Special Dark...3 kinds -- plain, with crisped rice (a la Krackle) and with peanuts (a la Mr. Goodbar).

                                It's still not dark enough for me, but acceptable in a pinch.

                                1. re: wyf4lyf
                                  d
                                  danna RE: wyf4lyf Apr 4, 2006 09:26 AM

                                  Thanks for the warning. God, I hope our secretary doesn't find those. I am starting my 6th week (thank you very much!) of keeping my hands out of the peanut,cheeze-it, or m&m bowls at work. But if somebody dumps dark choc in the kisses bowl, I think I'm off the wagon.

                              2. re: AnneInMpls
                                r
                                Ruth Lafler RE: AnneInMpls Apr 3, 2006 03:09 PM

                                I agree. I generally dislike European milk chocolates -- they're too sweet and "milky." We had a blind chocolate tasting at the last SF chowhound picnic, and the Cadbury's was easily identifiable by the strong carmelized milk-sugar flavor.

                                I've been eating some 55% cocoa solids milk chocolate from Michael Recchuiti lately -- pretty darn good.

                                When I was in England I stocked up on Tesco brand "plain" (dark) chocolate bars with nuts and raisins -- delicious, and you can't beat the price. For some reason I thought they were better than the Sainsbury's version, although I usually prefer Sainsbury's store brands.

                              3. re: rworange
                                pikawicca RE: rworange Mar 24, 2007 02:21 PM

                                I've been a dark chocolate fan for years, but every-once-in-a-while, I stick a bar of Hershey's with almonds in the fridge and eat it when it gets really cold. A treat from childhood that still hits the spot that the fancies can't touch.

                      2. r
                        Rita RE: Mike Mar 29, 2006 12:26 PM

                        I think Lindt 70% is really great and it is the lowest priced bar.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Rita
                          c
                          Cinnamon RE: Rita Apr 3, 2007 11:24 AM

                          2nd... very elegant, deep, not sweet. The 85% is less sweet even, but I like that too. (Great if you're low-carbing, actually either is.)

                        2. c
                          chaz RE: Mike Mar 29, 2006 09:42 PM

                          Once again I would like to put in a good word for Elk Candy Co. In NYC. It is on 2nd Ave. Betw. 84 and 85. Great dark chocolate bar. Big too.

                          1. e
                            Erica RE: Mike Apr 3, 2006 10:43 AM

                            Fair Exchange makes a very tasty 71% cocoa dark chocolate bar.

                            Erica

                            1. d
                              danna RE: Mike Apr 3, 2006 02:35 PM

                              I always wonder why Godiva is left out of these discussions. I know it's mainstream, but they make pretty damn good chocolate, IMO. Especially the 70% which can only be obtainedin the demi-tasse size (annoyingly). Smooth, nice temper, well balanced. Not so intersting as chocolates that have distinct notes of fruit/wine/caramel/coffee, you-name-it, but interesting isn't everything.

                              Otherwise, I like Amedei although I can't afford it. I can find Choco-love and Green & Blacks and Scharf. nibby bars without mail ordering. This thread reminds me I waited too long to place a Chocosphere order without paying for overnight delivery. It is now 80 degrees in SC...the stuff would melt!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: danna
                                puppymomma RE: danna Mar 25, 2007 09:40 AM

                                I recently went to a chocolate-tasting class. We were given Godiva without being told what it was. No one really liked it. It was waxy.

                                The "teacher" explained ingredients to us, and Godiva really skimps. They don't use good ingredients. They use less-expensive and less-impressive ones.

                                We compared it to Amedei. Have you ever tried them back to back?

                              2. p
                                Pia RE: Mike Apr 4, 2006 02:54 AM

                                Cuba Venchi 60% (or is it 65%?) The 80% is too bitter. But the 60% is--well, totally seductive.

                                Dolfin Pink Peppercorn

                                As another poster mentioned, Scharffenberger is an excellent cooking chocolate (unsweetened bits mixed into brownies), but too sour/acidic as a munching bar for my taste.

                                And there will always be a spot in the heart of my stomach that only a Hershey's kiss (or Reese's peanut butter cup) can fill.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Pia
                                  aguynamedrobert RE: Pia Mar 24, 2007 12:52 PM

                                  Valrhona "Manjari" (Madagascar)
                                  Scharffen Berger "Las Islas" (Caribbean Blend)
                                  Guittard "Ambanja" (Madagascar)
                                  Amano "70% Madagascar"

                                  Four top favorites right now...

                                  Robert
                                  Chocolate Connoisseur

                                  1. re: aguynamedrobert
                                    k
                                    Kelli2006 RE: aguynamedrobert Mar 24, 2007 05:00 PM

                                    Robert, I like the artisan E. Guittard bittersweet chocolate bars.

                                    I used to like Merkens chocolate, until they started to use GMO ingredients.

                                  2. re: Pia
                                    e
                                    elenoise RE: Pia Mar 27, 2007 08:13 PM

                                    oh! the dolfin pink peppercorn is really at the top of my list lately. a perfect and unexpected taste combination! have you tried the earl grey?

                                  3. e
                                    elenoise RE: Mike Mar 24, 2007 01:38 PM

                                    My favorite bars are made by vosages. they are all really wonderful.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: elenoise
                                      lulubelle RE: elenoise Apr 11, 2007 09:01 PM

                                      I second the Vogages bars. So good! They make chips too, the hot ones are great in chocolate cookies.

                                    2. w
                                      wonderwoman RE: Mike Mar 24, 2007 02:01 PM

                                      for my money (in this case, $1.99) chocovic's ocumare (orange label) at trader joe's is one of the best darks around.

                                      1. puppymomma RE: Mike Mar 25, 2007 09:43 AM

                                        My favorites are:

                                        Chapon - difficult to find. Smoothe and delicious.
                                        Green & Blacks
                                        Lindt (70%, or intense orange, pear, or mint)
                                        Amedei
                                        Dagoba (certain flavors)
                                        Lake Champlain sea salt and almond
                                        Lake Champlain small world truffles

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: puppymomma
                                          puppymomma RE: puppymomma Apr 7, 2007 02:02 PM

                                          Well, I just tried 3 Vosges bars that go right to the top of the list:

                                          Red Fire (a chiles and chocolate combo)
                                          Naga Bar (cury and coconut - but with 41% cocoa which is milk chocolate, not dark)
                                          Calindia Bar (cardamom, walnuts, plums)

                                          Then, let me be more specific about the Lake Champlain bars I mentioned above. They are both from the organic line, which is 100% better than their regular chocolates.

                                        2. Snackish RE: Mike Mar 27, 2007 11:27 AM

                                          This is really a question like "What is the best coffee?" or "What is the best wine?" Good chocolates have such different flavor profiles - that vary from year to year - that different people love or hate different brands and varietals.

                                          The only solution is to sit down and taste them yourself. Nice work if you can get it.

                                          I know it is probably heresy to discuss flavored chocolate here, but the Venchi Absinthe blew my socks off.

                                          1. s
                                            Steve RE: Mike Mar 27, 2007 12:25 PM

                                            I've had just about every one of the above mentioned bars, and I still prefer (by a large margin) a Dove dark chocolate bar.

                                            1. j
                                              justagthing RE: Mike Mar 27, 2007 06:24 PM

                                              Hershey's is not my favorite, although, as many, I grew up with it. But, since they have since bought out many upscale chocolate companies, they have ventured into some new territory. They now make a line of chocolates that use a higher percentage of cocao beans for both dark and milk. I absolutely love them. They come in bars (1/2 the size of a regular Hershey's) as well as Altoid size tins filled with truffles. The price is about $2 for a tin of 8 little yummy truffles.

                                              1. jinet12 RE: Mike Mar 27, 2007 08:18 PM

                                                If you're at Neiman's...Mirabelle
                                                If you're at Barnes and Nobles....Godiva
                                                If you're at the Grocery Store...Hershey's, Nestle, or Dove's

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: jinet12
                                                  Ruth Lafler RE: jinet12 Mar 29, 2007 09:51 AM

                                                  It depends on the grocery store -- you can do a lot better than that at most mid-range (and higher) supermarkets in the Bay Area. For example, Raley's/Nob Hill carries Valrhona and some other premium bars; a lot of stores carry the local E.Guittard and high-end line from Ghirardelli. The natural grocery across the street from my house carries a good selection, including the full line of Dagoba and my beloved Vintage Plantations. Trader Joe's carries Valrhona and Chocovic, among others. Cost Plus World Market is now carrying a large selection of premium chocolate bars.

                                                  It's really amazing what supermarkets carry if you look carefully. When I go to a new market I try to do a walk through and look at all the departments (especially departments like "international") and the top and bottom shelves (high-volume, large-brand products are shelved in the middle; low-volume, specialty items on the top and bottom).

                                                2. jbyoga RE: Mike Mar 27, 2007 08:39 PM

                                                  My new absolute fave is the Neuhaus Sao Tome - it is unreal! Smokey overtones - I had a bit last night with some Johnny Walker Blue scotch and it was fanfreakintastic!

                                                  1. diamond_skies RE: Mike Mar 29, 2007 09:17 AM

                                                    My favourite is anything dark by Green & Blacks. But I only buy Fair Trade so I haven't tried too many others.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: diamond_skies
                                                      Ruth Lafler RE: diamond_skies Mar 29, 2007 09:52 AM

                                                      You should see if you can get your hands on some Vintage Plantations -- it's the most politically correct chocolate I know, and it's delicious!

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                        diamond_skies RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 30, 2007 03:12 AM

                                                        I just did a search and found a mail order place for it so I will check it out - thanks for the tip!

                                                    2. w
                                                      Waldo Rojas RE: Mike Mar 29, 2007 02:12 PM

                                                      Theo's Ghana (87%, I believe). Better than the Ivory Coast bar in my opinion.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Waldo Rojas
                                                        aguynamedrobert RE: Waldo Rojas Apr 3, 2007 11:11 AM

                                                        I'm a big fan of Valrhona's Chuao 2002 bar as well! great bar...

                                                      2. c
                                                        crowbar RE: Mike Apr 7, 2007 01:37 PM

                                                        Lindt's gotta be the best...esp their 70%, either plain or the one with cocoa nibs.

                                                        I've recently seen something new from Lindt (though I don't live in NA so perhaps it's not new for some): chocolate - boxes and bars - packaged and labelled by source region; hence, Cuban chocolate, Madagascar chocolate, etc. I've seen and tasted about 6 such varieties. Fantastic range of flavours and most fun to get one of the boxes that lets you sample the range. And not too expensive, either.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: crowbar
                                                          free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: crowbar Apr 8, 2007 12:22 AM

                                                          Coincidentally, I made chocolate mousse using Vahrhona around the Christmas holidays and choc. mousse w/ Lindt (approx. the same %) tonight and discovered I prefer the Lindt. The price was right too, Lindt was on sale so I ended up purchasing 2 bars of Lindt for the price of one Valhrona.

                                                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                                            s
                                                            shellcomber RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Apr 11, 2007 08:40 PM

                                                            there's a great site that reviews different kinds of dark chocolate. it's very informative. oops, forgot to add the link: www.seventypercent.com

                                                        2. l
                                                          lwa RE: Mike Apr 14, 2007 06:10 PM

                                                          Sharffen Berger
                                                          Green & Black

                                                          dark chocolate 70% or above

                                                          Show Hidden Posts