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Which chocolate is best for baking?

I use mainly bittersweet and unsweetened for brownies, cakes, and ice cream and want to know which brands are better. I don't have many options where I am - this is what's available to me in my neighborhood stores. I know there are better chocolates available to me online but I want to just stick to what I can buy at the store. Out of these brands which do you like?

Green & Black
Nestle Chocolatier
Baker's
Ghirardelli
Lindt Excellence

The Green & Black and the Lindt were in the candy aisle - can I use those for baking? When you use chocolate in homemade ice cream, is it best to use baking bars or the type intended just for eating?

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  1. I'd probably go for the Ghiradelli. I wouldn't use Baker's chocolate for anything more than a doorstop.

    Is there a Trader Joe's in your area? Their chocolate is actually quite good for the price, and better than any of the chocolates on your list.

    It kind of depends on what you're making too. For truffles & souffles I buy the best chocolate I can, usually Sharffenberger or e. Guittard. If I make a cake or something with a lot more added sugar and butter, Ghiradelli would be fine.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sgwood415

      Unfortunately the closest TJ's is about three hours away. Next time I'm back home in Chicago I will have to stop by and stock up.

      1. re: seconds

        Mail order might be a good option. I wouldn't "stock up" on too much, since the quality of chocolate begins to degrade after a couple of weeks.

      2. re: sgwood415

        Regarding the Baker's chocolate as a doorstop... I actually just read in an interesting article (Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article... ) about which bittersweet chocolate was best for baking. They also rated best for eating.

        Bakers and Nestle Chocolatier won (Nestle 1st and Bakers 2nd) the baked-in brownie recipe! I was pleasantly surprised as I would not have expected that at all. Lindt actually won out in the tasting contest. Again, a surprise. Sweet Earth did best overall.

        I think when baking it is important to keep in mind that chocolate needs to be formulated for baking to achieve best results. Any chocolate you love the taste of purely on that premise alone would probably work best for a recipe with no baking involved.

      3. Wouldn't the chocolate in the candy aisle be too sweet? I would think it would be sweetened, not bittersweet. What about buying chocolate by mail? You wouldn't be able to control the temperature conditions during mailing, but it would probably be ok. I have liked Valhrona for baking.

        1. Christopher Kimball's _The Dessert Bible_ has a great few pages on this. His favorite chocolate you'd need to get mail order and unfortunately i don't remember the name(try to get a copy of this book or check it out at your library if you can), but he also says that Ghiradelli seems to be the best grocery store chocolate.

          1. The other one I like for baking (and again you would need to get this by mail, it sounds like) is Scharfen Berger (sp).

            4 Replies
            1. re: kary

              oh! that is the exact one that kimball suggests.

              1. re: kary

                Count me in as another Scharfen Berger user and their cocoa too.

                1. re: Candy

                  http://www.scharffenberger.com/recipe...

                  And some of the best recipes come from their own recipe file.

                2. re: kary

                  I don't know where you are located, but Scharffen Berger has a store in New York (Amsterdam/83-ish). I would imagine it's pretty easily attainable in California as well since that's where it comes from. I think you can order directly from their website: http://www.artisanconfection.com/stor...

                3. I love Belcolade chocolate from Puratos - proper traditional Belgian chocolate! It's beautiful stuff to work with.....

                  Not sure if you can get it online though?!?!?

                  1. When you are looking for a bittersweet chocolate, use one that tastes best to you, period. Don't worry about looking for the word "baking chocolate" just as we don't buy "cooking wine" nowadays. If you like the flavor and texture in bar form, you will be very pleased with the result in your desserts. Green and Black produces exceptional chocolates and would easily be my first pick, followed by Lindt. I don't think I'd ever want to eat a bar of Baker's, but Nestle Chocolatier and Ghirardelli are quite decent.

                    For unsweetened chocolate, the choice would be limited to Baker's and Ghirardelli (far better choice). I think the flavor and smooth texture of Scharffen Berger unsweetened chocolate is so far superior to the other two that it would be worth mail-ordering this product.

                    1. I really think it's a matter of taste, and you should try and compare and see what you think. My $.02, however is that Green & Black bittersweet chocolate is not very good. Their Maya Gold and regular milk chocolates are, but I have been really unimpressed with the others.

                      Don't care for Baker's--wouldn't eat it, wouldn't bake with it.

                      Ghirardelli and Lindt work really well in recipes, in my experience.

                      And I know I'll be branded a heretic for saying this, but I don't like Scharffenberger. I find the taste a bit too sour and "thin," which is the best way I can describe it. I wouldn't buy it even if it weren't so expensive. Valrhona is fine, but even that's a bit expensive for what it is. When I compared Lindt 85% and Valrhona dark, I preferred my brownies made with the Lindt.

                      Here in England, we have the Chocolate Alchemist, which produces the best dark chocolate I've found. And they make it in buttons as well as bars--no chopping necessary! It's got a very rich, smooth, intense flavor, and I haven't found anything that comes close. So if you're ever on this side of the Atlantic...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Kagey

                        I prefer Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate for 95% of my baking needs. I have used Valrhona and Scharffenberger, and I wasn't impressed with the flavor, and didn't feel the price /taste ratio made it worthwhile.

                        If I am making truffles or something that the chocolate taste will be exposed, I will use E. Guittard 72% chocolate.

                        I tried a bar of Nestle Chocolatier and I wasn't impressed.

                        1. re: Kagey

                          Interesting about the Scharffenberger. I find it to be fruity and wine-y.

                          1. re: Candy

                            Is that good or not good for baking?

                            1. re: yayadave

                              When I made the World Peace cookies with it no one complained. The chocolate was quite complex in flavor. As my DH said swoonable was a good description. It is the chocolate I prefer for baking and it has been so for quite a few years.

                              1. re: Candy

                                That's what I wanted to know. Thank you.

                        2. As far as taste and price go I echo the Trader Joe's sentiment. I often nibble on the large hunks I have for baking!!

                          1. I've actually gotten delicious brownies by following the recipe on the Baker's Unsweeneted Chocolate box (and, of course, using that chocolate). It's the kind my mom always had on hand so I just started buying it myself, and to be honest I've never compared it to other unsweetened chocolate. I've also had great results using Ghirardelli SEMISWEET chocolate (bars, not chips) in a different brownie recipe.

                            1. Agree with the other Scharffenberger fans.

                              Eaten alone, it's a little too acidic - even in truffles, it's a little too acidic.

                              However, when mixed with butter and eggs and baked, the floral/winey notes blossom. The acidity recedes and probably adds some depth to the overall flavor. I always use Scharffenberger for baked goods, and either Valhrona or Guittard for ganache/truffles.

                              1. For everyday baking/grocery store chocolate, you can't go wrong with Ghirardelli. I especially love their bittersweet chips! There's always a bag or two in my pantry. Don't even bother with the Baker's.

                                1. I am not that familiar with "Green and Black", I just haven't tasted it. I am not terribly impressed with the others.

                                  I make a lot of chocolate truffles. I use Callebaut. It is good Belgian chocolate and it is about as economical as any chocolate I have found. I buy mine at this site http://www.chocolatesource.com/home/i...

                                  Unfortunately, to buy online requires buying large quantities. I have found an upscale grocery store in my area that sells blocks of it in their bulk area where they sell grains, nuts and that kind of stuff.

                                  1. I have great results using baker semi and un sweetened chocolate with most recipes

                                    I use ghirardelli in cookies

                                    Is everyone using Baker not getting good results on a certain type of dish or you just dont like the idea of using the big square block?

                                    I would think something delicate like a truffle or souffles you would want to use higher quality, but for a mousse or brownie or cake (basically anything mixed where the chocolate doesnt have to stand out on their own) i think it does a very good job and is well priced

                                    is paying 3x as much really worth it for Sharffenberger or Guittard?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Dapuma

                                      This is an old thread I am resurrecting, mainly because I was trying to determine what chocolate to buy for a baked mousse cake where chocolate is the star of the show. To answer Dapuma's question of "is paying 3x as much worth it" when baking brownies, I say no.

                                      I wondered the same thing, as I always used Baker's chocolate for my brownies. I tried using Scharffenberger in a batch and wasn't sure if it was any different than the Baker's. I put it to the test and made two batches, one using Scharffenberger and one using Baker's, consumed side by side. The group I was dining with could not tell the difference of which brownie had the higher quality chocolate. So the average person with the average palate- save your money when making a recipe where the chocolate isn't the feature as it is in truffles and the like.