There's certainly been an explosion in chocolate diversity, all for the better to get the general populace to get beyond simple distinctions such as "milk chocolate" vs. "dark chocolate" and the horrid Hersheys stuff generations grew up on.
Artisinal producers like Patric Chocolate have popped up. I've purchased a few bars from him. Expensive, but quite nice. Very very smooth.
Cost Plus has a surprising selection of chocolates, from the always dependable Scharffen Berger to Vahlrona to El Rey even to single source / country chocolates.
Chocolate additives can also be quite nice from chilis to sea salt to cardomon to bacon.
I pretty much like it all except for mass market crap that hardly tastes of chocolate and feels pasty and chalky in the mouth.
If you're ever in San Diego, check out Chuao Chocolate. Get their 73% cold chocolate drink - just 73% El Rey, whole milk, ice, some chocolate powder, and a blender. Intense stuff.
Originally Posted by smeggy /img/forum/go_quote.gif I dunno about high end, I'm test driving a bar of Starbucks choccy right now. It's a taste I sorta recognize from somewhere but I can't put my finger on it. Not too bad, the jury is still out.
Merkur is not really highend, there have 2 or more stores in every major Swiss city and their stores does not have that fancy touch. They just make daily fresh chocolate bars with good ingredients that tastes great. $5-6 for 100g are not really expensive when a tall latte from starbucks costs $4-5 in Switzerland.
I have tasted higher end chocolates in fancy, exclusive stores. I hate those chocolates especially when the taste is not that exceptional. I have the impression they are selling a product, a dream of exclusivity and rarety while charging premium prices. It's freaking chocolate and only the taste matters.
Same thing with audio I guess, subjectivity and point of diminishing return is each individual's to decide.
Lindt also makes a 'Chilli' variety in their standard excellence range, which is far, far better than the chilli+cherry filled ones.
My favourite, though, is Cote d'Or Pistachio w/ 70% or so dark chocolate, very good, and easily found at the supermarket
Oh, I forgot to mention the 99% lindt bar, I also really like this. It isn't much like chocolate, but it is the ultimate I think in 'tasting' chocolate, good after a meal or something, the flavour is complex (not bitter) and long lasting.
P.P.S Reese's is awesome, brilliant, etc etc. Perfection! It might be not good chocolate, but the peanut butter and chocolate combination is a winner.
For whatever reason, I have a preference for Swedish chocolate over Swiss, Belgian or any others that I've ever consumed. My weekly crime involves the purchase, smuggling into the house, and ingestion of one of these:
P.S. Not the whole 200g at one time, of course (but close!)
My favorite is E. Guittard (Guittard Chocolate Company). They mostly supply industrial chocolate to confectioners - not every manufacturer processes beans into chocolate. The confectioners then make this "couverture" into their product. Most brands people are familiar with don't actually make their own chocolate.
Guittard is one of the biggest American producers and they have excellent products. They do sell a small line of single origin chocolate to consumers - I recommend their sampler. The price is lower than most of the "premium" chocolate found in mall shops, but with much better quality. It's the difference between Bose and Head-Fi.
A couple other manufacturers I love are Valrhona and Bonnat. Good stuff!
Also, look into single origin chocolates. Those are like single malt scotch or a fine wine from a particular region - the beans come from one area instead of a blend of beans. Well worth seeking out.
I boycott Scharffen-Berger, Joseph Schmidt and Dagoba because they are owned by Hershey's, which is lobbying the FDA to allow them to legally adulterate chocolate with vegetable fat, i.e. substitute margarine for cocoa butter.
My favorite brand is Michel Cluizel. Until 2000 or so, they used to make a heavenly 60% cocoa milk chocolate blended with almond cream. Sadly, it was discontinued, but their 50% cocoa milk chocolate is also very good. Other good European brands include Amedei, Zotter, Chocovic and Hachez. The US now has some good chocolate makers as well. Guittard has a long history, but you have new companies like Vosges, Amano, Chuao, Christopher Elbow. I particularly like Vosges' Gianduja, Amano's Ocumare and Chuao's 40% cocoa milk Caracas.
Originally Posted by majid /img/forum/go_quote.gif I boycott Scharffen-Berger, Joseph Schmidt and Dagoba because they are owned by Hershey's, which is lobbying the FDA to allow them to legally adulterate chocolate with vegetable fat, i.e. substitute margarine for cocoa butter.
I wasn't aware of that, thanks for the heads up. Need to find out if SB will follow in its corporate parent's footsteps with this asinine philosophy or if it will stick to its roots.
Only so-so, rather mellow. Would not buy again. Not a munching chocolate or one to critique. Not sure if it's an accurate representation of New Guinea cocoa or if the bar is old or if the recipe isn't a particularly good one.
Almond & Cherries - Bristol Farms - $3.00
Also somewhat blah, surprising given what should be rather overt flavors. Again, it may be due to the age of the bar, having oxidized on the shelf for who knows how long.
Chocolate and Bacon Bar - Anywhere from $5-$7. Crazy.
Yummy. And beyond the synergistic pairing of two of the world's greatest foods, the chocolate quality in and of itself was solid. I wish it contained more smoky bacon.
I don't know about chocolate and bacon, but I'd give it a shot at least! I typically stick to pures, usually no nuts and only go with added flavors if they are grain size or a liquid added so that the chocolate retains the same plain consistency.