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High Quality Chocolate for Christmas Baking

dreamer54 Dec 1, 2012 02:47 PM

HI -

I'm looking for pointers on baking chocolate. I'm getting ready to do some Christmas gift baking.

I will be making some candy & also some coconut bars that will be enrobed in chocolate.

I want a rich, glossy dark chocolate with a high cocoa butter content.

Any brand suggestions? (also - locations for purchase in the Philly/Main Line area).

Thank you!!

  1. c
    Chefpaulo Dec 2, 2012 01:18 AM

    For years, I used Callebaut bought at Whole Paycheck but have found Trader Joe's 17-oz. Belgian bars to be just as good (and likely made by Callebaut.). Of course, to do the full chocolate Monty, go for the Valrhona.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Chefpaulo
      dreamer54 Dec 2, 2012 06:14 AM

      I had to "google" "Whole Paycheck" -- had never heard that. Got a good chuckle!

      I''m not familiar with Valrhona. I won't be needing a ton of chocolate, and I would like to use something that has an outstanding taste and texture, as this is for gifts.

      I would like to try that upscale French product ("googled" Valrhone, too!). Do you happen to know if it can be purchased in the Philly Main Line area?


      1. re: dreamer54
        Chefpaulo Dec 2, 2012 07:50 AM

        Never heard that before, eh? Its easy to blow a whole paycheck there. Done it many times.

        As for where to find, if you have a chef/restaurant friend who could get you into Restaurant Depot, you'd likely have a good selection of high quality chocolate. There is also a Lindt outlet in Limerick but haven't tried it. For your purposes, I think the Callebaut (Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma) or the TJ's Belgian will meet your needs but that Valrhona might only be available at Amazon or their own website. Last time I checked, a 3 lb. box of their small batch cocoa powder was $64 - maybe more now.


        1. re: Chefpaulo
          dreamer54 Dec 2, 2012 10:38 AM

          I love that store ("Whole Paycheck") for those occasional splurge items (holidays, etc) and fresh fish on sale (often a good deal).

          Thanks for the tips on chocolate!

          I will probably experiment mixing some Lindt & TJ's Belgian. I've only been to the LIndt outlet once; I didn't see any notable deals. I find that the drug stores, K-Mark, and the grocery stores put the Lindt candy on sale fairly regularly these days.

          I would love to try it sometime, but clearly the Valrhona is above my pay grade right now.

          1. re: dreamer54
            dreamer54 Dec 2, 2012 05:01 PM

            Thanks! Maybe I haven't explored enough in the Whole Foods where I shop (Devon)

          2. re: Chefpaulo
            caganer Dec 2, 2012 02:14 PM

            The South St. Wholefoods sells both Valrhona and El Rey chocolates, usually a few types of each. They also sell Valrhona cocoa powder (at $17/lb it's cheaper than the German dutch-processed options but you can get it from Amazon for $12)

          3. re: dreamer54
            vicarious Dec 4, 2012 09:55 AM

            Trader Joe's in Ardmore sells 3.5 ounce bars of Valrhona for $2.99. I usually use the Trader Joe's pound plus bars for baking, but I do notice a difference when I splurge on the Valrhona.

            1. re: vicarious
              dreamer54 Dec 4, 2012 10:17 AM

              Thanks! I'll make my way over there and give it a try. That price sounds very managable. I'm going to try all the options and have some fun coming up with my own combonation.

        2. j
          Jeanhea Dec 2, 2012 01:31 PM

          I think the quality of Trader Joe chocolate is quite high, and probably better than Lindt in grocery stores. I've used it for baking and candy making (chocolate bark with nuts) and have been happy with the results and esp the price

          1. w
            waking1 Dec 2, 2012 03:07 PM

            Try Edwards-Freeman in Conshohocken. I'm not sure if it was Valrhona, but there were blocks of broken bars by the checkout counter. They have all manner of chocolate related products.

            1 Reply
            1. re: waking1
              dreamer54 Dec 2, 2012 05:01 PM

              Great -- thanks!!

              I've never heard of that store -- always glad to find a new resource.

            2. 94Bravo Dec 3, 2012 01:32 PM

              I made my wedding cake with a ganache made from $2.50 bags of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips from Walmart. It turned out really, really good and interestingly the chips were EXACTLY the same ingredients as the 60% bar, just half the price!

              1 Reply
              1. re: 94Bravo
                dreamer54 Dec 4, 2012 06:34 AM

                I have used the Ghiradelli chips--I know they are high quality--but my family and I agreed that they have a bitterness to them (kind of a bite) that I didn't expect when I melted them on top of a toffee bark candy I make -- it gave my bark a bite :)

                Maybe when they are used in baking (such as cake) it doesn't come thorugh the same way - or likely that quality is an asset in baking.

                I cannot bear Starbucks coffee (even the smell) because of that bitter bite it has, and yet some people drive to the ends of the earth to get it! I'm a Dunkin Donuts coffee drinker; I guess my taste in chocolate runs along that same line. I'm looking for something smooth and rich -- but no bite.

                Thanks for the input! I'll definitely try them for cake baking.

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