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Bulk Chocolate?

I am visiting from the east coast, and need to buy bulk chocolate for my family's favorite candy, rocky road. I tried Trader Joe's, but they only carry Belgian bittersweet with almonds in it, unlike my local store in New Jersey, which carries it plain.

I am off to Ghirardelli Outlet in San Leandro, but frankly, they aren't my favorite (too much of a dark roast edge). Any comments on Rainbow Grocery? Also, are the prices good at Spun Sugar in Berkeley? I'd prefer shopping in the East Bay. And it doesn't have to be Valrhona or Scharffen Berger.

Thanks to all.

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  1. Trader Joe's usually has plain bittersweet.

    Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods sell bulk chocolate by the pound.

    You might check Grocery Outlet.

    Spun Sugar is expensive.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Well, I just got an 11 pound box of Guittard bittersweet wafers for $53, which is under $5 per pound. Seems a good price to me. Their sincle pounds were $8, compared to over $11 at Sur Le Table for the same thing.

      Plus, the man who helped me was very informative and helpful...

    2. In the past, Spun Sugar could also order bulk chocolate for you with advance notice. You could choose from various brands and I don't remember them mentioning any markup to me.

      1. Whole Foods in Oakland sells pre-measured chocolate pieces, by the pound. I'm pretty sure they carry Callebaut and relatively sure they carrry El Rey. Can't remember the pricing, but experience says that most likely, they're expensive. Spun sugar has a very good selection of Callebaut and Guittards--which along with El Rey milk and white, are the chocolates I prefer to use.

        Rockridge Market Hall also carries pre-wrapped chocolate by the pound but that's sure to be very expensive.

        1. Ghiradelli's in San Leandro only has the wrapped stuff they sell in retail outlets, no bulk. I've bought some good quality bulk chocolate at the Pasta Shop in Berkeley (not the one at the Rockridge mall). It's at:

          1786 4th Street
          Berkeley, CA 94070
          (510) 250-6071‎

          1. If you go to Ghiradelli look for the unlabeled bittersweet bars they sometimes sell at a good price. I also agree on Berkeley Bowl for Guittard in bulk or Whole Foods for El Rey.

            1. Thanks everyone. I am staying very near Ghirardelli, so I checked it out. Yes, the only have the thin "baking bars," but in a good variety of semisweet, bittersweet 60%, milk, and white. Each bar is $1.85, so a full pound only cost me $7.40. Can't beat that! (Although I am not a Ghirardelli lover, my family won't care that it isn't El Rey.) Anyway, I decided that, considering the price, the tradeoff of taking the time to unwrap the bars is worth it. Also, the thin bars chop easily, and when you have 10 pounds of candy to make, it is a consideration. I definitely will check out the other venues so I am prepared next time. THANKS!

              6 Replies
              1. re: CookbookRick

                You can often find Lindt bars for that cheap in an ordinary supermarket, FYI.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  My cousin suggested some Scharffen Berger chocolate, and a friend bought some and made some cookies with it - good stuff. I think she said she bought it from the Pier in SFbay.

                  Richest chocolate I've ever had - he explained that it is particularly low in alkaloids, which is less sweet but has the highest cocoa content. or something like that.

                  Anyways I'm going to buy some to take home with me this weekend. :)

                  1. re: taiphun

                    Scharffen Berger no longer exists as such. It's now just a brand name owned by Hershey's.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Oh. good to know.. so it's just another Hershey chocolate then? Nothing special to it.. must be all in my head!

                      1. re: taiphun

                        It would be a little much to claim that Scharffen berger is exactly Hershey's. Even after they moved operations to PA, it's still a different chocolate and a different process - and pretty good, in my mind. Just not as special as the cool guys down by the train tracks in berkeley, the bean-to-bar breakthrough.

                        I prefer them to Ghirardelli by a long shot. Not saying much.

                        So - apparently the OP didn't really want bulk chocolate - happy with a few lbs.

                        I've also seen valrohna at bulk size at the Whole Foods in Palo Alto. Valrohna has a very wine-y taste to me, and needs to be used very carefully in baking. Gives some dishes the right zing, overpowers in others.

                        Made in France. Brisbane. That's the valrhona source. But they've stopped doing their warehouse sales.

                        It seems The Gourmet Corner is trying to take up the slack. San Mateo. They do sell 4 kinds of Valrhona by the 3k size, as well as "Couverture", whatever that is. Prices not listed on website.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          The Gourmet Corner has Cacao Noel cocoa powder and couverture. You can buy the powder in 1 kilo increments.

              2. I frequent Spun Sugar for my chocolate and flavorings for truffles. When you say bulk - how many pounds do you need? Spun Sugar does carry a good variety of chocolate - I prefer some of the Guittard dark and semi sweet chocolate, Callebaut for milk and white chocolate.
                If you are in the Berkeley area I would check them out first. I think there prices are comparable to most stores - you can always count on the chocolate being fresh.

                1. Just an update to say that Whole Foods (at least in San Rafael) is carrying bulk El Rey and Callebaut once again, at $9.99/lb. This is an especially good deal for the El Rey Bucare (58.5%), because it is the baking wafers (I think El Rey calls them 'discos').

                  Also, the Poco Dolce sea salt toffee and burnt toffee squares were on sale: $12.99 for an 8 oz. tin.

                  1. TCHO sells professional baking drops for $7.99/lb. at their factory shop at Pier 17 along the Embarcadero..


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Paul H

                      Just to clarify..they are $7.99 per # at their shop...I ask as the web site lists that price for half pound?

                      1. re: cakebaker

                        I have also paid $7.99 per pound at the Tcho shop. The tricky part is finding them open, since they will frequently close without warning, and may not necessarily return by the posted re-opening time...

                        Other chocolate resources are Berkeley Bowl, which carries Guittard chips and chunks in the bulk department, and Country Cheese on San Pablo, which has pre-cut bulk chunks of Callebaut bittersweet and white chocolate--it can be found in the back on top of the deli counter.

                        1. re: cakebaker

                          These may very well be 1/2 pound bags, making the price $16 / lb. I'll check for certain the next time I am there.

                          1. re: Paul H

                            I went by the factory store today to double check. The $7.99 bag of baking drops is 8 oz., but they also have 3kg (6.6 lbs) bags in three grades varying from $11/lb. to $12.75/lb.