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Where do you get your chocolate for fine desserts?

foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 07:58 AM

I am increasingly studying fine French pastry and currently working on a chocolate truffle cake (see my thread in the general discussion forum). My question is where do really top patissiers get their chocolate?

The recipe calls for 70% chocolate. Usually I'd use Schaffen Berger, which as far as I know is the only widely available chocolate of quality. But is there a further extreme in quality and uniqueness that I could use in my implementation of this recipe?

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  1. todao RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 10:58 AM

    Your question in the title of your post is "Where" do you get your chocolate and ends with a question about "quality". I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for. I use Lindt or, if it's Cocoa I'm after, Equagold is very nice. I guy a lot of my chocolate at World Market.

    4 Replies
    1. re: todao
      foodsmith RE: todao Jan 8, 2009 01:12 PM

      I meant what brand and where would I find it (if it were a brand too boutique to find in popular places).

      I think Lindt is ok, but I'm trying to make something that you'd get in a 5 star restaurant, so I'm looking to pull out all the stops here. Even Sharfen Burger seems too common :)

      1. re: foodsmith
        MMRuth RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 01:15 PM

        Once you figure out what brand(s) you want, you'll probably want to post on your local board for suggestions on where to find it.

        1. re: foodsmith
          JoanN RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 01:35 PM

          Lindt Excellence is 70% cocoa and Rose Levy Berenbaum says is comes closest in flavor to the chocolate made by the famous Bernachon brothers in Lyon. Do you not care for Lindt because of the flavor? Or because it's commonly available? Chocolate is so much a matter of personal taste. Some bakers recommend El Rey, but I don't particularly care for it.

          Keep in mind, too, that many top chocolatiers (at least, those who don't make their own) don't buy expensive chocolate. I recall reading an interview with Jacques Torres. He said that if he used the best chocolate money could buy, he couldn't make a profit. So it's not so much what *is* best, but what you *like* best.

          1. re: JoanN
            foodsmith RE: JoanN Jan 8, 2009 04:58 PM

            That explains why I found Jacques' chocolates to be good, but nothing memorable. I remember the scene of his place in Brooklyn more than remember the eating of his food.

            That said, I am looking to impress a few people, not make a profit. Lindt I guess has the stigma that it's just average. But if Rose says as such, I'll give it consideration. When I can buy Lindt in CVS, it sort of takes away some of the mystique of a very complicated french chocolate dessert :)

      2. j
        janniecooks RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 11:05 AM

        I too usually use lindt. But if you're studying French pastry, why not use Valrhona? There are a number of mail order sources; just google it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: janniecooks
          sibaik RE: janniecooks Jan 8, 2009 11:17 AM

          You can also get Valrhona at Trader Joe's. I use it in chocolate souffles and it's divine.

          1. re: sibaik
            dolores RE: sibaik Jan 8, 2009 11:33 AM

            I get my quality chocolate at the checkout at TJs. I can't say I paid any attention to the brand, but found them excellent. I'll now have to notice the name brand. Their store brand chips are good too.

        2. MMRuth RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 11:10 AM

          I also usually use Lindt, but you might also look into Callebaut.


          I've seen it at Whole Foods, among other places.

          1. Non Cognomina RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 11:29 AM

            Guittard is my go-to chocolate of choice for baking (and I do a LOT of baking). They offer several percentages (good for baking) and some single origins (Sur del Lago is my favorite out of hand). They are available online. I also like Valhrona, which can be found at gourmet food stores, Trader Joe's, etc. I used to use Scharffen Berger, but don't care for their chocolate now that Hershey owns them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Non Cognomina
              JoanN RE: Non Cognomina Jan 8, 2009 12:09 PM

              I agree with you about Sharffen Berger. Not what it once was. For semi- or bittersweet, I really like Lindt Excellence. Guittard is terrific, but I have to go out of my way to find it. Lindt Excellence seems to be available just about everywhere.

              1. re: Non Cognomina
                danna RE: Non Cognomina Jan 8, 2009 12:33 PM

                I know the OP didn't ask about cocoa, but I'll chime in that Valrhona (sp?) is fantastic. My non-snob mother looked at me like I was nuts when I gave her the big bag of V cocoa, and made some comment like "oh, she wants me to be gourmet". That was last year. Now, after she ran out and made her favorite chocolate cake w/ Hershey's Dark (not a terrible product) she called me to find out where to order more V. HA!

              2. j
                jaykayen RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 01:16 PM

                Valrhona is available almost anywhere.

                1. p
                  pigtails RE: foodsmith Jan 8, 2009 05:09 PM

                  For baking I prefer Vahlrona or Callebaut. They both produce a very high quality, consistent product. I think that the flavor of Scharffen Berger is too fruity and acidic for baking. I buy it at whole foods in a pinch, it's always available there.

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