Baking Supplies: Unsweetened chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips
Just moved from the States and thought that these were readily available items. But I can't seem to find unsweetened chocolate (these usually come as bars or in a packet with one-inch sized pieces) or semi-sweet chocolate chips at Asda, Tesco, or Waitrose. Where can I find these items in London or near Croydon preferably? Want to do some baking.
Waitrose sell "Venezuelan Black, Rio Caribe Superior" and "Venezuelan Black, Carenero Superior" both are 100% pure chocolate. They are made by Willie Harcourt-Cooze and are round blocks about the size of a small can of soup. They are not cheap approx £11 each.
Most home cooks use cthe chocolate labeled as "cooking chololate" and look for high level of coco solids: 70 to 85 % is pretty common. Most UK recipes will be based on this style of chocolate as totally unwettened chocolate is very hard to find at retail outlets.
Even Valhrona only retails a max of 85% and most of their specialist range is a lower percentage. They do have a a range of 4 varieties of 100% cocoa bar in their professional "Pure Origin Grand Cru" range caled "Pure Cocoa Mass" either Araquani, Alpaco, Manjari, or Tainori. They come in 3kg packs, and you will need to find a professional supplier to get hold of them as they won't be at retail outlets.
Lindt does a 99% bar that is widely available in larger supermarkets, and Sainsbury's (Taste the Difference Sainsbury brand) does a good 85% Fair Trade bar that comes wrapped as smaller individual bars. Green and Black also does a nice 85% bar.
As for chocolate chips, you're out of luck, sort of. They sell very small packets of chips on the baking aisle made by Supercook, but they're expensive and not quite the same. My suggestion is to chop up a good bar of plain chocolate (60%) and have chocolate chunk cookies. I actually prefer this now as it is much nicer chocolate. Carbury's Bourneville is a good one to use, as the others can get a bit expensive seeing as how you need almost 200g of chocolate to approximate a bag of chocolate chips.
However, there is a new Costco in Croydon and they sell some Belgian made chocolate chips, but they are of a mini size.
Hi, as an American living in the UK for over 26 years (and a keen baker as well) I'm afraid to tell you that I've never been able to source the unsweetened chocolate - like Bakers, that you're used to using. It's one of the things I routinely bring back from trips to the US - or have friends bring, along with Betty Crocker brownie mix - but that's another story!
If you could find it, it would be a "speciality" item and therefore expensive. There used to be an "American" food store in Fulham but that closed over 10 years ago.
Ditto semi-sweet choc chips. It might be worth trying either Selfridges or Harrod's Food Halls (Harrods has a downstairs with more canned and packaged things) If you don't mind buying in bulk these guys: http://www.chocolatetradingco.com, do 1 kilo bags for £19.95 of 99% Dark Chocolate Couverture Chips
Superior quality, 99% cocoa content, dark chocolate couverture chips. Extra bitter chocolate not for the faint hearted.
Their words not mine - have not purchased myself so can't vouch but their other chocolate seems very good quality - although again more expensive than you're used to.
Nanette's suggestion of chopping a plain or dark chocolate bar into chunks to make chocolate "chunk" cookies is an excellent one.
For other types of chocolate goodies like cakes, I often use British recipes that I then translate into American using a conversion to change from weight to volume. Gourmet sleuth has a fantastic conversion tool that makes it super easy. For example, if your recipe calls for 150 grams of sugar it will convert that into US cup measures (3/4 cup BTW)