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Jul 19, 2009 05:12 PM

Parve Unsweetened Chocolate

All the brands of unsweetened chocolate I've found are marked as dairy. Any suggestions for one which is parve?

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  1. Hershey's unsweetened baking chocolate is parve and I've been very happy with how it comes out.

    28 Replies
    1. re: avitrek

      Scharffen Berger makes some varieties that are KSA PARVE.

      1. re: sig

        Some Scharffen Berger bars are OU now.

        If you can find Callebaut, which is not sold in grocery stores (I've bought in specialty places, and I think they do most of their business wholesale), their unsweetened is pareve and quite excellent.

        1. re: GilaB

          some brands may say OU-D but are really pareve due to being manufactured on dairy equipment.. contact the superviory agency to check. In reality, unsweetened chocolate should be pareve b/c it is pure chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate, mixed with some form of fat to produce a solid substance. what brands have you found that say they are dairy?

          1. re: koshergourmetmart

            I've been using the substitute directions on the Hershey's cocoa powder., which is cocoa powder and oil mixtures.

            1. re: vallevin

              if you do decide to use cocoa powder make sure it is non dutched/alkalized cocoa powder

              1. re: koshergourmetmart

                Which pareve non dutched/alkalized cocoa powder would you recommend?

                1. re: Lissy63

                  While Hershey's is not the world's best cocoa, it's the most widely available pareve natural (ie non-dutched) cocoa powder.

                  1. re: GilaB

                    all pure cocoa should be pareve

                    valhrona is great (has the triangle k, but several months back, Williams Sonoma sold a chocolate pudding made with Valhrona cocoa and my contact at the OU said it was fine)
                    ghiradelli is quite good
                    scharffen berger is good too

                    dutched is alkalized;you can see it in the ingredients if it alkalized

            2. re: koshergourmetmart

              They almost all say OU-D, because the OU does not have a Dairy equipment designation. While this can be served after a fleishig meal, standard halacha says that it cannot be eaten with meat itself. This can be an issue if you want to put chocolate in a meat recipe, or even side dishes to be eaten along with the meat itself.

              I am surprised to hear that some of you have found a Hershey's totally parve (in other words, OU and not OU-D) unsweetened chocolate; I'm sure I have looked for it in the past and never seen any. Parve semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate is easy to find, but I have not seen parve UNsweetened in years. Bakers brand also has gone from OK to OK-DE. Yes, essentially parve, but the dairy equipment designation does limit the kosher cook in some ways.

              1. re: queenscook

                scharffen berger actually says OU . Hersheys Unsweetened Natural Chocolate Baking Bar - 4 Oz -
                HERSHEY'S Chocolate for Baking
                Unsweetened Chocolate OU

                HERSHEY'S cocoa
                Natural OU
                Special Dark (Dutch Processed) OU

                1. re: queenscook

                  My wife's aunt -- who is new to kashrus -- just bought the Hershey's Baking unsweetened. She didn't know it was unsweetened. So we avoided the dairy successfully. But it tasted pretty bad. LOL

                  1. re: DeisCane

                    it tasted bad in the cake or it tasted bad raw

                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                      I'm guessing that since she didn't know it was unsweetened, the final product wasn't as expected.

                      1. re: ferret

                        Exactly, ferret. It was like a diabetic cake in the days before saccharin. LOL

                  2. re: queenscook

                    I have had a hard time finding Hershey's unsweetened baking chocolate in NYC stores(outside of some kosher stores), but in areas that tend to be stocked better with Hershey's products(PA or larger suburban stores) the unsweetened baking chocolate can be found next to the unsweetened Bakers brand which is OK-DE.

                    And I disagree about semi and bittersweet being easy to find. The kosher stores stock the frummy brands. But outside of that I have found NYC stores quite lacking in parve semi and bittersweet.

                    1. re: avitrek

                      scharffen berger is one carried in many supermarkets in NJ and is widely available there.

                      1. re: avitrek

                        I use chocolate chips for recipes that call for melted chocolate, and Trader Joe's' chips are parve, so that's easy in any area that has a TJ's. I do admit that the other stuff I do get in the kosher stores. I don't use the frummy brands, though; I use Alprose Swiss Chocolate (at least I don't think that's a frummy brand).

                        1. re: queenscook

                          the problem with chocolate chips is that something (I do not know what) is added to it so the chips retain their shape in cookies. I do consider alprose a frummy brand. Many frummy brands are not real chocolate some use vegetable oil (especially the ones that are kosher for passover)

                          1. re: koshergourmetmart

                            Chips do retain their shape in cookies, but they will definitely melt if you microwave them or put them over a double boiler and then stir them. I know some cookbooks say not to use them in recipes when they are melted, and maybe the recipes would be a tiny bit better if I used bar chocolate, but I've never had any trouble using the chips.

                            As for the ingredients, here is what is in the Alprose bar, (which is 52% cocoa, by the way): cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, hazelnut mass, vanillin. Here is what Wikipedia says about dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolates. "Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. The U.S. Government calls this "sweet chocolate", and requires a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. . . . Semisweet chocolate is a dark chocolate with a low sugar content. Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin have been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking." If you read Regan Daley's pages on chocolate in her encyclopedic baking guide & recipe book "In the Sweet Kitchen," she says the same. What should not be in there is vegetable oil, and it is not. There is nothing in Alprose that departs from that, and while I can't swear they are not a frummy company, I would be surprised that there would be a frummy chocolate company based in Switzerland as far back as 1956.

                            As far as frummy brands not being real chocolate . . . there may be some like that, but I have Glick's, Lieber's, Haddar's, and Elite chocolate right here at hand, and every one of them says very clearly "real chocolate." (I would never buy them if they weren't.) And all these are from my Pesach cabinet, so I'd say it would be all the more true during the rest of the year.

                            There's nothing wrong with using Scharffen Berger, but it's expensive, and not every recipe requires the absolute top quality chocolate; sometimes a middle-range chocolate will work just as well. It all depends on what you're making.

                            1. re: queenscook

                              Many of the frummy brands aren't very good chocolate, even though they're not chocolate-flavored confection. The Alprose (which I agree is among the better kosher-store offerings) has vanillin rather than vanilla; vanillin is an artificial flavoring that's used when a company is cutting corners. I haven't found a pareve bar in my local kosher store without vanillin or vegetable oils.

                              1. re: queenscook

                                The problem I would have with alprose is that they use vanillin -- a good quality chocolate will use vanilla. Also it is a flavored bar hazelnut and vanilla;the poster was asking about unsweetned chocolate.

                                what are the ingredients in Glick's, Lieber's, Haddar's, and Elite?

                                Substituting vegetable oil for cocoa butter will negate cocoa butter's health benefits — specifically by protecting chocolate’s antioxidant properties. What’s more, cocoa butter doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.

                                There is a big debate about the US government allowing vegetable fat to be substituted for cocoa butter. Read this article

                                1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                  The Alprose bar is not flavored, per se, in other words, it is plain chocolate, not some hazelnut filled or flavored bar. I'm not sure what the hazelnut mass is or does, but it tastes like plain chocolate. I know the OP was asking about unsweetened chocolate, but the thread diverged, and I mentioned that I had no problem finding semi-sweet chocolate, Avitrek said he/she disagreed about the ease of finding parve stuff, which is why I was mentioning the brands I buy.

                                  As far as the chips I have of the "frummy" companies, here are the ingredient lists for the different brands of chocolate I have:

                                  Haddar-sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter
                                  Elite-sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, emulsifier, vanillin, salt (this is a bar, not chips)
                                  Glick's-sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla
                                  Lieber's--sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa
                                  Paskesz--sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter

                                  You'll notice that they pretty much conform to what experts agree belongs in chocolate, and don't have much that doesn't. Believe me, I make no money defending these companies, and am just as happy to buy from secular companies, especially when the product is comparable or better. These are in my Pesach cabinet because I don't use them the rest of the year. But that's not principle or philosophy, it's economics; I use Trader Joe's' parve chips year round because they are cheaper .

                                  1. re: queenscook

                                    I guess the main difference ingredient wise is that all the "kosher brand" bars have sugar as their first ingredient while good quality chocolate brands do not.

                                    Scharffen berger lists cocoa beans as the 1st ingredient

                                    Chocolove's 1st ingredient is chocolate liquor.

                                    Bonnat Madagascar (75% cacao-) the ingredients are: Cacao, cocoa butter, sugar

                                    Amano Madagascar (70% cacao minimum): the ingredients are Cocoa beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, Tahitian vanilla pods

                                    vahlrona's 1st ingredient is cocoa beans

                                    the alprose bar I have says the 1st ingredient is cocoa mass which is not cocoa beans.

                                    From Ghiradelli "what does the percentage of cacao content mean? Cacao content refers to the total cacao content in the chocolate, which is everything derived from the cocoa bean. The three cocoa components are: chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. The cacao content gives an indication of how intense or how sweet the chocolate will be-the higher the percentage, the more bitter it is. Is cacao percentage the main indicator of quality? While cacao percentage will determine the intensity of the chocolate, the quality of chocolate is also affected by many other factors including:

                                    Quality and selection of cocoa beans
                                    Roasting process
                                    Grinding, blending, and conching processes
                                    Technology employed in the chocolate making process
                                    Quality of other ingredients (for example, vanilla vs. vanillin)
                                    Experience in chocolate making .

                                    Ghirardelli’s process of hand-selecting the world’s finest cocoa beans and roasting them to perfection ensures an intense chocolate flavor. Other brands with similar cacao content may not be as careful in their bean selection, roasting, or manufacturing process, yielding a lower quality product"

                                    It could be that the beans used by these companies are not as good quality. They add alot of sugar to mask the bitterness of the beans and since sugar is cheaper than cocoa . The nibble website mentions for milk chocolate bars "sugar mask any irregularities and bad tastes that poor cacao beans often possess. Thus, manufacturers can buy the cheapest, lowest-grade beans (which are still more expensive than sugar and milk solids) and hide their off-flavor with blankets of milky sweetness. So in the end, one is not getting a “chocolate experience,” but a mere whisper of one. "

                                    The quality of beans used makes a difference and similar to wine, there are flavor notes. some taste "winey" some taste citrusy.

                                    More than this these "kosher" companies are not chocolate makers. Scharffen Berger, Amano Chocolate, Ghiradelli, Guittard only makes chocolate and they roast their own beans and create their own bars. Paskesz has a full line of candies and cookies and Lieber's makes cookies, applesauce and other items.

                                    go here: you can see a review of 2 top quality chocolate bars (that are coincidently kosher certified


                                    go here: for a great article on how to taste good chocolate

                                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                      I found Parve scharffen berger at William Sonoma in Manhattan.

                                      1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                        Koshergourmet, I think you've nailed it with the quality of the bean/roasting. I've never looked at the ingredients, but when I eat the frummie brands they clearly taste different(I would argue worse) than even the secular supermarket brands.

                                        1. re: avitrek

                                          Yes, they're grainier, and sometimes have an unpleasant burnt flavor. I wouldn't have thought of bean quality, but that's probably it.

                                    2. re: koshergourmetmart

                                      Unsweetened chocolate is, by definition, pareve, Either the hashgacha is restricted because of the manufacturing equipment, or it isn't really dark chocolate.

                                      I wouldn't condemn the use of vanillin in chocolate. The main taste in real vanilla is, essentially, vanillin. Some brands of real vanilla are poor and some brands of synthetic vanillin taste just fine.

                                      If vanilla is a primary food flavour, a really good real vanilla (there are several varieties, all different) will produce interesting flavour nuances in the product, much like a good wine.

                                      In unsweetened, or any really dark, chocolate, where vanilla reinforces the chocolate flavour, vanillin can be perfectly acceptable. A few recent taste tests seem to support the use of vanillin over vanilla in some products, Cooks Illustrated was so thrown by their first taste tests that they repeated them - with similar results. Sometimes vanilla won, sometimes vanillin won, and sometimes there was no difference.

                                      Brand seems important with vanillin and even more important with vanilla.

                                      I also wouldn't condemn the use of lecithin in chocolate. It is both an effective emulsifying agent and healthy to consume.

                                      Vegetable oil is something else again. It's a cost reduction method that I WOULD prsonally consider a scam. We have always had chocolate style candies made with vegetable oil, often sold as sold as "summer candy". This is necessary because high quality tempered chocolate can be ruined at summer temperatures.

                                      Cocoa butter has the almost unique quality of meting at just about mouth temperature. This produces both an incomparable mouth feel and as expecially strong flavour intensity.

                                      I don't know of any vegetable oil that can simulate the effects of cocoa butter in the mouth.

                            2. re: queenscook

                              I've seen Bakers, but it said "Dairy" not "DE"; Ghiradelli was Kof-K Dairy.

                              "Yes, essentially parve, but the dairy equipment designation does limit the kosher cook in some ways."

                              As you point out, though, DE is less than ideal.

                    2. Hershey Baking Bar - saw it for myself today in the baking aisle at the Shoprite in Paramus (NJ), it was right next to the other baking chocolate, and it indeed simply marked 'OU' .

                      1. FYI, Trader Joes semisweet chips are pareve and excellect! I buy them several dozen bags at time since I bake so much


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