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Chocolatiers Please Post Your Thoughts Here: Need Advice on Lower-End Chocolate and SEMPER COATINGS

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone!

I'm a newbie here and I'm wondering if anyone has ever successfully blended lower-end chocolates like Merckens, Wilbur and Peter's, either interchangebly or within their own lines, and created a chocolate with a flavor profile closer to higher-end chocolate? Got a lot of it really cheap and I'd like to make the most of it.

Has anyone tasted both Belgian Callebaut and North Amr. Callebaut? What are the flavor/texture differences? I've heard that the Belgian variety is superior.

Also, has anyone ever had any experience with the SEMPER brand of confectionery coatings? The establishment that carries it charges $38-$39 for an 11lb block while charging only $34.56 for 10lb of Callebaut real milk chocolate chunks. I've never heard of conf coating costing more than the real deal. Does conf coating trump real chocolate in certain applications?

I'd also like input as to what is the best brand of bulk cake flour? PURASNOW, VELVET...etc??? Are bulk flours of better quality or just a better value?



Appreciate any and all help, thanks.
post #2 of 19

Firstly, welcome to Cheftalk!

 

I can honestly say that I have NOT tried any of the Semper, Merckens, Wilbur, or Peter's products.

 

What I strongly suggest you do first is to read the ingredient list on the packages.

 

Callebaut has many, many varieties of chocolates and couvertures. Here's the "Code" to crack the numbers on the packaging

 

"D" = dark chocolate

"M" = milk chocolate

"W" = white chocolate

"NV" = Natural vanilla

 

the other numbers, ie 8-11 refer to the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate.  So, a package of "D8-11" is a dark chocolate with a minimum amount of cocoa butter, which is not ideal for enrobing or dipping.

 

With chocolates we have the "Heaven and Hell" classifications: 

 

Heaven is the European standard, where "chocolate" refers ONLY to dark chocolate--no dairy whatsoever, with no additional fats, and only sugar, vanilla, and soy lecethin allowed  Cocoa content is given on the label  in percentages ie 55%, 65% etc with most brands starting at 50% for the cheap basic stuff.  "Milk chocolate" naturally has milk powder, but again, no other fats, and only sugar, vanilla, and soy lecethin allowed, most brands start off with a minimum of 35% cocoa content and go up from there..

 

"Hell" is regulated by the USDA, where "Bittersweet", "Semi-sweet" and "unsweetened" chocolate must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa content.  After that, anything goes, dairy, other fats, paraffin, etc are allowed.  Milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 15% cocoa content, and then anything goes, and "Sweet chocolate" must contain a minimum of no less than 10% cocoa content--that's a lot of sugar.....

 

Basically, if chocolate is packaged in pounds, run far, far, away from it.  N.A. Callebaut is produced in St. Hyacinth, Quebec and is packaged in kilos, the quality is excellent, but again, they produce many, many varieties of couverture and chocolate.

 

Hope this helps.... 

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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hey FOODPUMP!!! Thanks for the detailed reply. I also been advised by someone else to only buy Callebaut chocolate from Belgium. I have used Cacao Barry before and I think it is a subsidiary of Callebaut. Does Belgian Callebaut taste like that? How does the quality vary?

 

What brands and varieties of chocolate do you use? I have some Valrhona but, personally, it isn't that great. The milk variety at least. I know they use flavor beans but personally, I think the sell the general public a different quality than what they sell to foodservice. I've read as much on a pro forum.

 

I'm learning how to blend chocolate and that has helped immensely. Do you blend chocolate and if so, what pointers can you recommend for a perfect coating?

post #4 of 19

Yes Cacao Barry is a subsiduary of Callebaut, they tend to do all the high-end single origin couvertures.  I've been to the Callebaut factory in Quebec, and I have tried the quality of both factories, there is very little difference.  Caveat here, both factories produce "Basic" chocolate as well as the better stuff.  D8-11, for example is a basic and is best used for chocolate sauce.  70/30 is higher end, but I find it hoh-hum and one sided in flavour.

 

Yes, you can blend any amount of chocolates for a "house blend", but I don't.  I use a Swiss 70% couverture for all of my dark items, and a Swiss 38% couverture for my milk items.

 

I get very nervous when I hear the word "Coating" used in N. America.  For me it means art-er-fish-ul chocolate--stuff with the cocoa butter removed and a "CBR" or cocoa butter replacement substituted.  This leaves a nasty greasy or waxy coating on the tongue and roof of your mouth, and it doesn't taste very good either.

 

If you are looking for a good dipping or enrobing chocolate, i.e "Couverture" you need something with a higher cocoa butter content.  Callebaut and most of the Europeans use the "raindrop" system on their packaging.  2 raindrops is a very thick chocoalte and best used for baking purposes. 3 drops is a bit thinner but not ideal for dipping, 4 drops is thin and, I feel, perfect for dipping. 

 

Hope this helps

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post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks,

I think I'm getting the hang of this chocolate thing. I have a number of professional texts and they all seem to be in unisom with the belief that chocolate has to be blended in order to create a proper flavor balance/profile. That means that, let's say, the chocolate that you buy, has already been blended at the factory by the pros and contains any number of various flavor beans, (i.e. trinitario, criollo), more expensive, and filler beans, (i.e. forastero), less expensive. This adds greatly to the cost of the end-product. Less expensive varieties of chocolate contain very few, if any flavor beans so, that means I have to do the blending myself. I believe that is why the cheaper chocolates are so bland. They are basically forastero and little else. Flavor beans add complexity, bouquet and depth. But as one book stated, any good chocolate must contain forastero beans as they are the foundation of, (workhorse) chocolate.

 

Thanks, you have been a great help. I also think that I'm right about Valrhona. They are not providing as good a quality to the home-baker but, they charge them more.

 

I got my chocolate from Stover & Company. I was weary about buying Callebaut from them but, since you told me what to ask for, I am going to ask for Belgian Callebaut. Van Leer also makes a Belgian variety. They're a Callebaut Sub too.

 

It is best to learn your liquor types and learn to blend them. You can make a superior product at less expense.

 

As the great Ron Lees stated more or less, "you can make good chocolate with poor beans and, you can make trash from good beans."

post #6 of 19

The last time I dealt with baking chocolate was during the 1970s making mousse.  Then, I used blocks of BAKER'S GERMAN SWEET CHOCOLATE.  The blocks were dark colored, darker than our milk chocolate.  And it made a fine mousse that noone around me complained about!

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gurlpatis View Post
 

Thanks,

I think I'm getting the hang of this chocolate thing. I have a number of professional texts and they all seem to be in unisom with the belief that chocolate has to be blended in order to create a proper flavor balance/profile. That means that, let's say, the chocolate that you buy, has already been blended at the factory by the pros and contains any number of various flavor beans, (i.e. trinitario, criollo), more expensive, and filler beans, (i.e. forastero), less expensive. This adds greatly to the cost of the end-product. Less expensive varieties of chocolate contain very few, if any flavor beans so, that means I have to do the blending myself. I believe that is why the cheaper chocolates are so bland. They are basically forastero and little else. Flavor beans add complexity, bouquet and depth. But as one book stated, any good chocolate must contain forastero beans as they are the foundation of, (workhorse) chocolate.

 

 

First off, I'm a big fan of single origin chocolate.  What this means is that all the beans are of the same varietal and from the same region, processed the same way and not mixed with any other bean.  Mine is a 70% from Ecuador and I have been using it for well over 7 years now. 

I hate blends. 

For me, I compare single origin chocolate  to a person who is comfortable the way they look and don't pay much much attention to how they dress.  Blends are like people who are not confident with the way they look and need to dress or have hairstyles /make-up etc to mimic movie stars or celebrities.  Blends were designed for economical and logistical purposes--not because of flavour profiles.  It's the same tactic coffee roasters use:  If you take all of your beans from one area, and there's a crop failure, or bad weather, or political upheaval, you're toast.  If you have a blend of 10 beans and one source dries up, you borrow more from the other 9 varieties.  When a chocolate co. makes a single origin chocolate available, they have consistency in control, and have some kind of guarantees that they can get the beans year after year. 

 

I don't quite follow you with "expensive' chocolates.  What's more expensive to produce:  A medium price chocolate with 70% cocoa content, or a higher price bean chocolate at 50% cocoa content?  Sugar is cheaper than cocoa beans.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by gurlpatis View Post
 I also think that I'm right about Valrhona. They are not providing as good a quality to the home-baker but, they charge them more.

 

I got my chocolate from Stover & Company. I was weary about buying Callebaut from them but, since you told me what to ask for, I am going to ask for Belgian Callebaut. Van Leer also makes a Belgian variety. They're a Callebaut Sub too.

 

It is best to learn your liquor types and learn to blend them. You can make a superior product at less expense.

 

As the great Ron Lees stated more or less, "you can make good chocolate with poor beans and, you can make trash from good beans."

 

Valrohna makes good chocolate.  Please, pretty please read the ingredient list, then read the ingredient list of Van Leer's.  Promise me this, O.K.?

 

I can not agree with with the first part of  Ron Lee's statement:  You can not make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you can put a sow's ear IN a silk purse, but not make one out of it. You can do all the tricks and treat your beans with alkalai, push the fermentation past 14 days, blend with better beans, conch for 72 hours, but in the end you are just masking the attributes of a lousy bean.

 

I strongly suggest you sample small quantities of single origin chocolates, educate your palette a bit.

 

Belgium isn't the only country producing good chocolate, hope you can read in between the lines of this....

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post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Just be thankful that you haven't tasted it since the '70's. The Baker's Chocolate of the 70's is NOT the Baker's Chocolate of today. It tastes like bitter..... That's it. No chocolate taste, just bitter. Keep in mind, this chocolate costs between $3.50-$4 per 4oz bar!!! $14-$16lb, They're charging top-quality prices for sub-par quality. And I have never had Baker's Chocolate that tasted like it was worth that much....even when it actually tasted like chocolate! I doubt if any serious professional nowadays uses that stuff!!! Heck, Foodpump uses Swiss, probably Felchlin. Felchlin totally rocks though. I've had their Maracaibo.

Chocolate like Baker's is precisely why people such as myself have turned to various outlets, including the internet, in search of a quality chocolate. More americans are embracing european chocolates for the very reasons Foodpump specified. The HELL STANDANDS of the USDA. That includes Baker's Chocolate too!
post #9 of 19

I'm gonna' get a bar of Baker's within the next few days and will report back to you!  Thx for the heads-up.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #10 of 19

Oh and I get the Baker's at the local Dollar Store for less than a dollar a bar and therefore less than $4 a pound.  Will keep you posted.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Foodpump,

 

Do I sense a bit of Single Origin snobbery going on?

 

There are plenty of chefs and patissers all over the internet who do NOT like single origin chocolates and who would take issue with your analogy but, blends are their preference just like single origin is yours, just a preference.

 

Just because a bean originates from a single source does not decidedly make for a better chocolate. That is solely preference.

As for quality of the bean, poor quality cuts across the board. You can have a 'flavor bean' of sinle origin which is of poor quality and you can have 'filler beans' of good quality.

 

Please try to understand this. Cocoa beans are much like grapes. And I'm told they grow much the same way. Grapes growing on the same plot of land can taste completely different due to the location of the grapes as well as soil variations. Those growing on the hillside can taste completely different from those growing in the valley. One getting more sun and being sweeter than the other.

The same holds true for plantation beans. Beans on one side of the plantation can  be of good quality while the other beans lack flavor and distinction. I suggest you check this out for yourself.

 

Ron Lees has been a very trusted authority in the confectionery industry for decades as has the others I have read texts from. I mean there is a reason Hershey, Cadbury, and other powerhouses of the industry got where they are...their own special blends! Think I'll trust Lees.

 

Blended beans, and this is from professional manufacturing texts, are blended to accomodate various palates in different regions, (i.e.U.K, N.America, Germany, etc). Makes sense.

 

And yes, good beans can be blended with poorer beans but, the same holds true for plantation beans. (Poor plantations beans mixed with good plantation beans) All the beans hailing from one plantation does not solely determine that the beans are good. and the drying and roasting processes are as much a determining factor as the bean itself.

As for Valrhona, I never said Valrhona wasn't good. I said they sell home-bakers a different quality than foodservice. And I know about single origin, I have both Araguani and Alpaco, Ecudorian. I also have their Mariag Du Cru varieties. Blended chocolates.

 

Araguani was in short supply for a while due to production issues. So much for single origin.

 

I DIDN'T SAY BELGIAN WAS BEST, YOU DID! YOU TOLD ME, BELGIAN CALLEBAUT OVER AMERICAN. "IF IT IS IN POUNDS, RUN FAR AWAY FROM IT". Your words, not mine.

 

I suggest you pick up Ron's book on Chocolate Manufacture. You might learn something.

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah, I forgot the comment you made about expensive chocolates. I stated, more expensive beans, (i.e. trinitario, criollo). That is a fact of the chocolate industry, not my opinion. Just like that Swiss chocolate you use. I'm guessing it costs a bit more than Merckens and it is what, Trinitario, the hybrid bean or maybe Criollo?

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gurlpatis View Post

 

I DIDN'T SAY BELGIAN WAS BEST, YOU DID! YOU TOLD ME, BELGIAN CALLEBAUT OVER AMERICAN. "IF IT IS IN POUNDS, RUN FAR AWAY FROM IT". Your words, not mine.

 

I suggest you pick up Ron's book on Chocolate Manufacture. You might learn something

 

 

ehhh...No to the first part of the shout, Yes to the second part

 

I said I found the quality between Belgian and N.American Callebaut to be the same.  I also said the N.American factory, located in St. Hyacinth, Quebec (located in Canada, which is part of N. America, but is not America)  produced in kilos not pounds. I have visited the factory and even did a week long course there.  I don't know if there is a Callebaut factory in the States, and if there is, I haven't tried it.

 

May I suggest working with chocolate for a few years?  Really working with it, when tempering comes automatically, no fooling around with thermometers or dipping samples to see if they bloom, when you can ladle out a perfect 24 x 12 gram mold with no overfill, no scraping off.  Working in many countries, with different Chefs, different brands, and different philosophies? Would you like to work for me for a few weeks?  But if anything, could you please read the ingredient lists on the Merckens, Peter's and other chocolates? (hint, they're not couvertures)  I do think you can learn something there.  Remember, if sugar is listed first, it is quantities well over 50%.

 

As ever,

Hope this helps

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post #14 of 19

Gentlemen (and gentle ladies as the case may be), please try to discuss issues and not personalities, OK?

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gurlpatis View Post
 

Foodpump,

 

Do I sense a bit of Single Origin snobbery going on?

 

There are plenty of chefs and patissers all over the internet who do NOT like single origin chocolates and who would take issue with your analogy but, blends are their preference just like single origin is yours, just a preference.

 

Just because a bean originates from a single source does not decidedly make for a better chocolate. That is solely preference.

As for quality of the bean, poor quality cuts across the board. You can have a 'flavor bean' of sinle origin which is of poor quality and you can have 'filler beans' of good quality.

 

Please try to understand this. Cocoa beans are much like grapes. And I'm told they grow much the same way. Grapes growing on the same plot of land can taste completely different due to the location of the grapes as well as soil variations. Those growing on the hillside can taste completely different from those growing in the valley. One getting more sun and being sweeter than the other.

The same holds true for plantation beans. Beans on one side of the plantation can  be of good quality while the other beans lack flavor and distinction. I suggest you check this out for yourself.

 

Ron Lees has been a very trusted authority in the confectionery industry for decades as has the others I have read texts from. I mean there is a reason Hershey, Cadbury, and other powerhouses of the industry got where they are...their own special blends! Think I'll trust Lees.

 

Blended beans, and this is from professional manufacturing texts, are blended to accomodate various palates in different regions, (i.e.U.K, N.America, Germany, etc). Makes sense.

 

And yes, good beans can be blended with poorer beans but, the same holds true for plantation beans. (Poor plantations beans mixed with good plantation beans) All the beans hailing from one plantation does not solely determine that the beans are good. and the drying and roasting processes are as much a determining factor as the bean itself.

As for Valrhona, I never said Valrhona wasn't good. I said they sell home-bakers a different quality than foodservice. And I know about single origin, I have both Araguani and Alpaco, Ecudorian. I also have their Mariag Du Cru varieties. Blended chocolates.

 

Araguani was in short supply for a while due to production issues. So much for single origin.

 

I DIDN'T SAY BELGIAN WAS BEST, YOU DID! YOU TOLD ME, BELGIAN CALLEBAUT OVER AMERICAN. "IF IT IS IN POUNDS, RUN FAR AWAY FROM IT". Your words, not mine.

 

I suggest you pick up Ron's book on Chocolate Manufacture. You might learn something.


I dont mean any disrespect, and certainly dont know as much about chocolate as the two of you do, but given your extensive knowledge of the product, why would you be interested in confectionery coatings, just because you have a large quantity of it? And again I'm just curious, you've obviously done tons of research into the subject, so why not just purchase an 11lb block of Semper? When you ask "Does conf coating trump real chocolate in certain applications?" to me it seems like you should know the answer to that. 

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
None taken Minas. I didn't buy confectionery coating. I bought chocolate. Merckens sells real chocolate. You can go to ADM, who owns the brand, and check out all the chocolate and coatings available. I bought the Marquis and Zurich. I also bought Peter's Ultra. Prices ranged between $20-$32 per slab from Stover & Company. I bought Callebaut too but it is in chunks. I have never used confectionery coating before. And as I stated above, I am curious about this Swedish brand because it costs more than real chocolate. I've never seen anything like that before. Ryan, who owns Stover, says it tastes fantastic and told me that Semper had recently been bought by Callebaut. So I'm terribly curious but, I want to hear what others have to say before I plunk down nearly $40 on what could be garbage.

As for the trump question, as I stated before, I personally have never used confectionery coating but, I have read where some people claim that it has it's niche in the confectionery world, such as in making candy cigars and such. I don't know. If you have any experience with it, I'd like to know how you feel it stacks up against real chocolate. I have received a lot of good advice on the internet and I am always open to suggestions.

And uh, Foodpump? When did I call Merckens or Peter's couverture? Read the title, Lower-End Chocolates. That's what I said. And I yes, I have been working with chocolate for a few years, which is why I'm experimenting with cheaper grade chocolates to find a blend closer to higher-end chocolates, as I stated above.

I am even working on creating my own chocolate with liqour, pulverized sugar, cocoa butter and various powder flavors and spices. May work, may not, but at least I gave it a shot.

And I don't porport to know everything. People on this blog and other blogs on the internet know far more than I, and that is why I ask, to learn more.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post
 

Gentlemen (and gentle ladies as the case may be), please try to discuss issues and not personalities, OK?

A shot across the bow ...

 

Let's take it down a notch and play nicely ans show respect, this is key here at Chef Talk.

post #18 of 19

Well, regarding confectionary coatings, a.k.a Compound chocolate, a.k.a. Baker's chocolate, a.k.a. Summer chocolate, yes it does have it's uses.

 

First and foremost it does not have to be tempered, it just needs a ballpark temp of around 38 C.

 

Secondly, it doesn't melt like chocolate does, so for confectionary items in countries that have very high temperature and humidity levels it does work well.

 

It (Confectionary coatings) tends to used for stuff like dipping or glazing cookies, biscotti, etc., but it doesn't get used much for pralines--unless it is intended  for hot climates.

 

However.....

 

The cocoa bean naturally contains over 50% cocoa butter.  This is removed and another vegetable based fat is substituted when making compound/confectionary chocolates.  Cocoa butter has some unique properties, one of them being firm at room temp, but will instantly melt at body temp.  CBR (Cocoa butter replacements) do not, they leave the tongue and roof of your mouth feeling waxy/pasty, as they do not melt at body temp, and don't melt easily in your mouth.

 

Most manufacturers including Callebaut, Lindt, Schokinag, Carma, etc., produce at least one or more compound chocolates, and the price is almost the same as for real chocolate--with some even costing more than real chocolate.  I was never thrilled with any of them, the taste was pretty bland, but the mouth feeling was just, I guess "Gross" would be the best description.

 

If you are interested in creating new types of chocolate might I suggest checking out a few books?  Wybauw is a Callebaut "Ambassador" and has 3 or 4 books out, mainly dealing with ganache fillings and shelf life, and has a tremendous amount of information and knowledge in those books.  Public libraries don't usually have these books, as they are quite specialized, and they are pricey, usually around $80, but again, they have a tremendous amount of  information in them.

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post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the info and suggestions Foodpump but, I am concentrating on making a chocolate coating for enrobing right now and, I think I have pretty much all the heavy-hitter info I need. In fact, I have successfully made a pretty decent dark chocolate coating and am now trying to refine the art of flavoring the chocolate. I have plenty of various powder flavors and they work great. The spices are the tricky part but, I think flavor concentrates or oleoresins may solve this dilemma. I have also added peanut oil from peanut butter and almond oil from almond butter to chocolate for a subtle nutty undertone. I have also learned that extracts can be added to chocolate to a limited extent providing that the extract is heated to a temp beyond that of the chocolate it's added to and in order to combat the resulting thickening of the chocolate, one need only add melted cocoa butter to thin the chocolate again.

I would love input from anyone who has successfully created a milk chocolate coating at home. My attempts have thus far been disasterous. I tried ultra-refined milk powder. Yuck! I am now concentrating on reducing the milk and sugar to a tack.

And to the moderators and peacemakers, thank you as well. You are the voice of reason and are much appreciated.
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