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Which Are the Best Chocolate Bars Available in the USA?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

Which are your favorite brands and types of chocolate bars for eating (as opposed to cooking) commonly available in US Supermarkets?       I'm in NYC, so any available particularly in NYC supermarkets are OK too.

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post #2 of 31

Of national brands, I think Dove pretty much wins the mass market battle in quality.  I'm referring to competitors like Hershey and Nestle, not Ghiradeli, etc.

post #3 of 31
post #4 of 31

For a chocolate treat head to organic markets, Zabars, or Whole Foods.  They sell lots of brands (NOT Dove or Nestle, etc), with up to 90% dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is the only way to go.  There is no particular brand I can recommend, but it's a fun experiment trying out all the organic brands of good chocolate.  You'll be shocked how many types of good chocolate there are out there.  You will never have to eat Hershey's again.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 31

While I agree with KK that organic and fairly traded chocolate bars tend to be better, I disagree that dark chocolate is the only way to go.

A couple brands that I find particularly good are Theo and Equal Exchange. The darks are great-especially the Theo dark with chile and spices, and EE's caramel and sea salt bar. But I also really like Theo's milk- kind of a creamy dark milk with lots of chocolate flavor and EE's milk with hazelnut-bold chocolate and toasty-flavored hazelnut-not a blend of chocolate and Nutella!

Theo also makes a curried coconut milk chocolate bar that sounds weird, but is really, really tasty and finishes with a subtle zing of heat. Love it!

The best chocolate chile bar I've ever had is Vogres', but they don't commit to organic or fair trade, so I don't buy them too much. They make some other unusually flavored bars, like milk chocolate-bacon (hated it) and lavender (meh). 

I know it's fashionable to to pooh-pooh white chocolate, but Green and Black's makes a delicious organic vanilla white as does El Rey-though I've only found it as baking or cooking chocolate. El Rey's blanco is very hard to temper as it is not conched as finely as most American or European produced chocolate, but the flavor is fantastic. 

 

If you are in Brooklyn, you might check out the fellow who is making raw chocolate bars and selling them at the Park Slope Farmers' Market-interesting technique and nice flavor. It seems to be an emerging trend in chocolate production that preserves a lot of the indigenous fruity taste of the cocoa beans that can be destroyed during traditional roasting processes. Here's a link to his site:

http://www.raakachocolate.com/

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post #6 of 31

What I meant by "dark is the only way to go" foodnfoto is that many people mistakenly think that chocolate is sweet.  It is not naturally sweet.  In fact it is better and the higher percentage of chocolate in the package means the more bitter it is.  Personally I do not care for milk chocolate, that's not to say there is no place for it.  But I find it to be a diluted flavor of chocolate all together.  I enjoy the true taste of chocolate which is surprisingly rich and bitter.  No easter bunnies for me.... although once in a while I do crave a kit kat!

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post #7 of 31

    I remember the first time I had a 99% Cocoa bar, WOW!  You only take bits at a time on a bar like that, believe me.  It took a little bit of time before I got over the initial shock but I do enjoy it now.  I also like cocoa nibs to add a bit of extra texture with additional flavor.

 

   I like to try different brands of chocolate bars when I get a chance.  But when I do I usually go darker and will have one "section" or "square" and that would be it until another time.  Lindt makes some decent chocolate bars and their excellence line is good.  Although they've very recently had some reformulations to a couple of their bars.  The reformulations have been for the worse...they've made the "new" bars using soya lecithin. 

 

 

Quote:
We revised the Excellence 70% Cocoa recipe based on consumer research results that show the new recipe is preferred due to the smoother, less bitter taste. We received overwhelmingly positive consumer feedback about this new recipe and taste. The new recipe is intended to balance a smooth dark chocolate flavor with a rich and creamy texture. The new Excellence 70% Cocoa bar is available at Lindt Chocolate Shops, LindtUSA.com, and retailers nationwide.
We've stopped producing bars with the previous 70% Cocoa recipe. However, if you liked the intense cocoa flavor found in the previous recipe, we recommend you try the Excellence 85% Cocoa or Excellence 90% Cocoa. If you have any further questions, please contact our Customer Care department.

 

 

   While the old Lindt bars are very good, my favorite has been Sharffen Berger for a little while now. 

 

 

   dan

post #8 of 31

My favorite chocolate is still Weiss. It's not easy to find but it's so good. I usually prefer dark chocolate but one of their milk chocolate is just divine. They have great dark chocolates as well. Weiss mainly produce chocolates for making confections but does offer a selection of chocolate bars.

post #9 of 31

For me, I prefer Cadburry chocolates. I haven't tasted other chocolate like the others are talking with but, I love trying it too. :D

post #10 of 31

we have one of these here, do you?

 

http://www.stamchocolate.com/

 

I buy their special dark chocolate for my Louis Tres.  tongue.gif

post #11 of 31

I live in South Texas (yes, you do capitalize this location, lolol).

See's boxed chocolates and bars are only available (fresh at a mall kiosk) during the holiday season and I try to bring a few home intact.

But for a straight up, great candy bar on a road trip?

Twix.

post #12 of 31

My favorite chocolate bars are made by Milka in Germany. All different varieties, and all that I've had have been top notch quality. My personal favorite is milk chocolate with hazelnuts. The Wife-to-be loves the one filled with chocolate mousse.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #13 of 31

Zabars is good the have some nice choclates there, I like whole foods also you can get gnosis choclate at whole foods all the different flavors are good.

 

Belcolade belgin Single Origin Uganda 80% mmm so good
Michel Cluizel 70 and 85% dark choclate

Green & Black makes an amazing organic white chocolate bar
I like the belcolade cacao powder as well I eat this sometimes.. with honey it makes a great sauce

 

Anybody else use worldwidechocolate .com to get choclates?

post #14 of 31

Since 2007 I've been opering my own artisan chocolate and pastry shop, and sicne I've worked with a lot of chocdoalte, and many varities, I've come to afew conclusions:

 

1) Organic or fair trade chocolate does not neccesarily taste any "better" than non organic or non fair trade.

2) Organic and fair trade couverture is not readily availble in sizes (5 kg, 10 kg units) that I need.

3) The organic /ft couvertue that I can bring in is quite costly compared to a higher end European couverture, and tha majority of my customers will not put "their money where there mouth is" , and will choose non organic over organic soley on the price.

4) "70%, or "80" etc. is no indicator of how good the chocolate is, it is only an indicator of how much cocoa content is in there, and respectively, of how much sugar is in there

 

I constantly tell my customrs to read the ingredient list.  If "Cocoa mass/Cocoa liqor" is the 5 or 6th ingredient down the list, there ain't much chocolate in that bar.  If fats other than cocoa butter are listed, it will leave your mouth greasy, oily, or waxy, and if the label has "Dutched cocoa" or "Alkalized Cocoa" (which it must, by law, if it is used) then this is an inferior cocoa bean that has been treated with alkalai to remove bitterness and foreign odours.  

 

You do get what you pay for.  Some of the best tasting solid bars are the 5 gram tablets put out by the high end mnfctrs like Valrhona, Cluizel, El Rey, and others.  These are almost always "Single origin" chocolates, with the beans all coming from one area, much like wine.  Very pricey and very good 

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post #15 of 31

foodpump; ...Some of the best tasting solid bars are the 5 gram tablets ...

 

You forgot Côte d'Or! When you order a coffee in Belgium, many times you will recieve a chocolate with it and sometimes a Cote d'Or "mignonette". Also available in supermarkets for a small treat at home. On tip; get the "noir de noir".

http://www.belgosweet.be/cote-dor-mignonettes-10-36-pcs-p-33-c-10.html 

post #16 of 31

I was not aware that Dutched or Alkalized cocoa is made from inferior cocoa bean's. I thought it was just used to remove some of the natural bitterness of the bean weather it is a good or bad quality bean. Is this not true? Is it like flour when you see bleached enriched white flour it is a lesser quality flour. Same thing with cocoa? I thought there were some good dutch procssed cocoa out there such as Belcolade.

post #17 of 31

Beans aren't naturally bitter.  They can be if harvested too early or poorly fermented.  You should be able to buy "cocoa nibs" or cocoa beans at your higher end supermarkets or Latino grocery stores.  Try one.  They aren't bitter.

 

Dutching is nothing new.  Van Houten developed the process well over 200 years ago.

 

Like I said, all mnfctrs MUST declare if they use dutched cocoa, rule applies to N. America as well as the rest of the world.  None of the higher end lines will use it.  Hershey's (See "special dark) makes a big thing out of it.  But, true to law, declares it, albeit rather loudly, on their labels.

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post #18 of 31

Professional Canadian chefs & bakers etc can find a good line of 18 different organic Fair Trade couvertures, cocoas, sugars and more from Camino (based in Ottawa).

see; http://www.lasiembra.com/camino/en/professional-industrial-lines

 

American professionals can get bulk organic Fair Trade chocolate & cocoas, etc from Sweet Earth Organics in California  http://sweetearthchocolates.com/level.itml/icOid/34

 

And any one just looking for great organic, Fair Trade chocolate bars can found our 9 different varieties (ranging from 38% milk chocolate to 80% Extra dark) either online ( http://shop.equalexchange.com  ) or at Whole Foods or their local natural food store or Food co-op.

 

(And for Canadian shoppers we also strongly recommend the chocolate bars from our friends at Camino - available at many? most? Loblaws and specialty food stores).

 

Lastly, as a chocolate company that works directly with cacao farmers in four countries and as one that uses both dutched and non-dutched cocoa (often from the same sources) we can assure you that dutched doesn't mean inferior beans were used. It's just a matter of achieving a particular desired taste profile. 

 

PS - thanks to FoodnFoto for the kind words.

 

post #19 of 31

No products or sizes were listed on that site, and I have communicated with Camino people and distributers here in Vancouver several times.   Only if I import in container sized quanatities would I be able to get bulk f/t couverture.  So far, the only chocolates and couvertures available that bear the f/t and organic labels are the 100 gram bars.

 

How long are the dutched beans fermented as opposed to the unfermented? 

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post #20 of 31

Hang on, just found the link on the side of the page.  Looks good, be contacting Ottowa directly, the Vancouver distrubuters made it very clear they only want to carry the 100gram bars

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post #21 of 31

for me its green & blacks...amazing balance of flavors....dark espresso, white chocolate w/ madagascar vanilla, mint/dark chocolate, mayan gold with orange are my favorites... best part is that its organic and free trade, as well...i won a few awards couple of years ago with my 'chocolate without borders' 3 tiered chocolate mousse dessert, using 13 green & blacks chocolates from around the world..it was the quality of the chocolate that did it..i was just there to pull it all together....and green & blacks graciously donated all the chocolate! when you're talking about enough chocolate for 600 samples, that's a lot.....

joey


Edited by durangojo - 1/5/11 at 10:42am

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #22 of 31

I adore Green & Black's chocolates.

 

BUT - a must when I visit London is the Scottish chocolatier, Will Curley - his stuff has to be tasted, to be believed!

 http://www.williamcurley.co.uk/engine/shop/index.html

post #23 of 31

Had a good look at G & B's 100 gr tablets in the supermarket yesterday.  Why do they put in milk powder in all of  thier "dark" chocolates?  This is a big no-no in all E. U. countries, if it contains any milk product it can only be labled "milk chocolate".

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post #24 of 31

All of the cocoa we use - be it for cocoa powder or for chocolate - comes from organic, fermented beans.

 

One can read/see more about some our organic farmer co-op partners at these links:

http://www.equalexchange.coop/dominican-republic

 

http://www.equalexchange.coop/panama

 

And here is a two part travelogue of a trip to visit the CONACADO co-op in the Dominican Republic. CONACADO is the world's largest exporter of organic cocoa, so almost all the major organic brands (Green & Black, Dagoba, Newman's, etc) are using their beans, though not all are buying on Fair Trade terms.

 

part I

http://smallfarmersbigchange.coop/2010/03/16/people-behind-your-chocolate-a-small-farmer-tour/

 

part II

http://smallfarmersbigchange.coop/2010/03/26/the-people-behind-your-chocolate-a-small-farmer-tour/

post #25 of 31

There are some great small-batch American bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Some of them include: Patric, Amano, Askinosie, Rogue, and Mast Brothers. They can be found for purchase on the web or at local gourmet stores.

post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderw View Post

There are some great small-batch American bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Some of them include: Patric, Amano, Askinosie, Rogue, and Mast Brothers. They can be found for purchase on the web or at local gourmet stores.



 

   Thanks!  I'll be sure to check some of these out licklips.gif

 

  dan

post #27 of 31

One of the best around here (Monterey, CA) is Lula's.  Both milk and dark are outstanding.  They are a local company but are sold at Whole Foods here so maybe they are sold at all Whole Foods.  See's is my all time favorite, it's not the best when matched up with gourmet chocolate but it's the chocolate equivalent of comfort food. They've been around for forever and a store that will hand you a piece of chocolate the minute you walk in the door will always have a special place in my heart!

post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Had a good look at G & B's 100 gr tablets in the supermarket yesterday.  Why do they put in milk powder in all of  thier "dark" chocolates?  This is a big no-no in all E. U. countries, if it contains any milk product it can only be labled "milk chocolate".



I'm not sure what happened to my reply, which I posted (and it looked like it was posted, yesterday).

 

I had a close look at G&Bs bars in my local supermarket.  The dark chocs (ie 70 per cent and more) stated on them that they 'MAY contain milk, lactose, nuts - which is par for the course for all European food labels, if the production machines have been used to make different types of sweets., chocs, puddings etc.  It doesn't mean they contain the listed items, just covering themselves legally!

post #29 of 31

I've heard that, there's also a good chocolate coming from the middle-east. Hmmm.. I just wonder maybe, it also came from Belgium. Any one heard of this?

post #30 of 31

Ah yes, Belgian chocolate.  Very good stuff, as most of the Belgian chocolate comes from a very famous orchard near Brussels.  Swiss chocolate, on the other hand comes mainly from a region near Huenerberg, in the chalky soil of the Kanton Zug.....

 

Just messin'  with ya.  Cocoa trees only grow in very hot and humid conditions, usually right around the equator.

 

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