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Nov 30, 2009 10:50 AM

Best chocolate brand for holiday chocolate bark?


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!

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

    6 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      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

        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

          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

            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

              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

                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. 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

            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.

          2. 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. 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's so good that most people (including chocolate-lovers) actually like it better than the dark chocolate!