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.
Which Are the Best Chocolate Bars Available in the USA?
Gear mentioned in this thread:
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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".
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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
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.....
Edited by durangojo - 1/5/11 at 10:42am
food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all Harriet Van Horne
food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all Harriet Van Horne
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!
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".
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:
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.
Thanks! I'll be sure to check some of these out
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!
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!
Edited by Ishbel - 1/13/11 at 4:00pm
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.