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Best chocolate brand for holiday chocolate bark?

scotcheroo Nov 30, 2009 10:50 AM

Hello,

I'm interested in making cranberry/nut/chocolate bark as part of my holiday gift to my office-mates. I want it to be sorta special, so I'm looking for a great quality chocolate (both white and dark) to for my recipe. Does anyone have any suggestions on specific brands that would be good? I'm willing to pay a little extra over standard supermarket brands, but also don't want to break the bank as this will be for several dozen people.... Any help would be appreciated!

  1. chowser Nov 30, 2009 11:06 AM

    For cost effective, good chocolate, I like to use Trader Joe's big block of chocolate.

    6 Replies
    1. re: chowser
      r
      rainey Nov 30, 2009 11:29 AM

      Yeah! They have really good chocolate at great prices. Keeps great too. I recently used a package that had been at the top of my pantry for, probably, a year. I just used some new chocolate as the seed and got very nice temper.

      1. re: rainey
        scotcheroo Nov 30, 2009 12:55 PM

        Great! Is it actually a trader joe's brand? Or a different brand that TJ's carries? Also, do you all know what the best cacao percentage would be? I'm thinking maybe 70% is probably as dark as I can go to get good results....

        1. re: scotcheroo
          chowser Nov 30, 2009 04:19 PM

          It's TJ's brand and it comes in varying percentages. They also carry Ghirardelli in chunks but I find the TJ's fine and it's cheaper. It's in a really large block.

          1. re: scotcheroo
            bushwickgirl Nov 30, 2009 04:32 PM

            70% cacao is, IMO rather bitter, although I like it personally, but the recipients of your holiday gift might be put off by it. That kind of percentage is somewhat of an aquired taste. You might look for a lower percentage, like 63%, which is still bittersweet, but without the bite of 70%. Remember that the higher the percentage of cacao, the trickier it is to work with.

            1. re: scotcheroo
              r
              rainey Nov 30, 2009 04:53 PM

              OK. Just came from TJs and I made some notes. They have huge 17oz bars of:
              • dark chocolate (54% min) $3.99
              • 72% dark chocolate $3.99
              • milk chocolate (33% min) $3.99
              • milk or dark choc w/almonds $4.49

              It's all Belgian and it's good chocolate. The prices are pretty great, actually.

              They also have 3.5 oz snack size bars of Valhrona in 85%, 71% or 56% for $2.99.

              In addition they have an assortment of other snack size chocolates and semi sweet chips. Didn't bother getting the prices of all that on a dinner-time emergency run. ;>

              Generally speaking, if you want chocolate for cooking or making gifts, TJs is very much worth the trip. As I said, I keep the 17oz bars on hand. Wish they made an unsweetened one and a white chocolate one but they don't. Yet. Mabbee someday.

              1. re: rainey
                chowser Nov 30, 2009 05:10 PM

                Pound Plus, that's what the big block is called. I can picture it but couldn't remember the name before. The 17 oz made it come back to me.

        2. j
          jeremyn Nov 30, 2009 08:28 PM

          Based on your replies I'm guessing you have a TJ's nearby, and I agree that their Pound Plus bars are a great value.

          If you don't have a nearby TJ's (or for someone else reading this thread), I like Callebaut and Scharffenberger as mid-range brands that are excellent in cooking but cheaper than Valrhona et al. I also think they are better than the TJ's brand, but at 2-3x the price, the TJ's is probably a better value.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jeremyn
            Caitlin McGrath Dec 1, 2009 04:48 PM

            TJ's Pound Plus and other TJ's brand Belgian chocolate in bars is actually Callebaut! It was rumored to be for a long time, and there was a particular run a few yrs. back that actually was stamped with the Callebaut name, presumably in error.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
              r
              rainey Dec 1, 2009 07:50 PM

              Interesting to know that!

          2. scotcheroo Dec 1, 2009 10:54 AM

            Thanks all! I do have a tj's fairly close, so i'll definitely make the trip. I think I'll try a batch with the 54% and see how it goes. I'll also see if they have any decent white chocolate in chip or chunk form.

            1. a
              arlenemae Dec 1, 2009 03:50 PM

              I've made both dark and white chocolate bark a few times. For the dark, I've tried both the Valhrona 71% (from Trader Joe's) and Callebaut bulk dark chocolate (Whole Foods) and they've both turned out well for me. I haven't tried the Trader Joe's bulk chocolate though.

              For white chocolate, I love the Callebaut bulk white chocolate (also from Whole Foods). I've tried other brands and this one has turned out the best for me...it's so good that most people (including chocolate-lovers) actually like it better than the dark chocolate!

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