The New Bakers Dozen
Seeking opinions on chocolate for baking

The The Bakers Dozen: Seeking opinions on chocolate for baking
By Melanie Mc. on Tuesday, April 17, 2001 - 01:31 pm: Edit

I would love to try the higher quality chocolates to bake cakes and also for fillings. I have searched the net but am only succeeding in getting confused about the different brands and types. I know I want a bittersweet and a white chocolate. One site recommended the Callebaut couverture for baking but I thought couverture was mainly for ganaches and candy making? I was hoping someone would be kind enough to offer their experienced opinions on this subject. What brands are most preferred and the type of chocolate best suited for baking needs. Thank you so much!

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 17, 2001 - 01:55 pm: Edit

Everyone has their own preferences of brands they like and don't...based on taste and cost we choose which chocolate is best for which applications.

"Coating chocolates" are the least expensive "chocolates" if you were to purchase this type of chocolate at the grocery store it would be a chocolate bark or white bark. Some craft stores also sell this in multiple colors. It tastes waxy and really doesn't melt much on your tongue. When you melt it, it doesn't need to be tempered, it won't turn white or "bloom" as we call it. Personally I would not ever bake with this type of chocolate or eat it. I have one use for it, in a type of coating or glaze to cover a finished cake.

Couverture is what most people think of when they think about chocolate. There's many different grades and brands. Most non-professional bakers use Nestles or Hersheys brands of semi-sweet. If you melt chocolate chips at too hot of a temp. it will "bloom" because it is a couverture.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 17, 2001 - 02:32 pm: Edit

Alot of professionals use bittersweet couverture in their baked goods and mousses. I rarely use bittersweet unless I'm looking for that sharpness (my customers prefer semi-sweet, customers rarely buy "bittersweet" desserts from me). Although there are brands of bittersweet that are less bitter than others, most American people think of semi-sweet in baked goods and milk chocolate to eat. Semi and bitter can be used inter-changably in baking recipes.

Again, personally I think most people (excluding professional) can't tell the difference between expensive and cheaper brands of couverture in BAKED items.

But in candy, mousses and NON-BAKED items you can taste differences. Try godiva candy vs. hersheys candy....using a better brand is worth the expense in items where this can be detected by MOST people.

Right this moment I'm buying Felchin brand of semi, milk and white then Callebaut brand bittersweet. But you have to chose what's right for your budget and taste!

By Joal on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 10:33 pm: Edit

Dear Melanie,

W Debord's note is useful. "Covering chocolate" is real chocolate with some oil added to prevent bloom and make the chocolate behave itself. It tastes yucky.

"Couverture" is what most folks simply call "chocolate." Consider these factors as you choose: 1) cost (pay no more than $3/pound in bulk), 2) your patrons' taste preference (Callebaut is plainer and simpler, Guittard is more complex), 3) how "well behaved" the chocolate is (e.g., how well it gets and keeps a temper), and 4) how thick it is (although you can always thin it out with cocoa butter). Think about Peters (upper end Nestles), Callebaut, Cocoa Barry, and if you're brave, Guittard.

Above all, have fun with the chocolate.

By Melanie Mc. on Friday, April 20, 2001 - 05:11 am: Edit

Thank you so much, both of you, for taking time to answer my question. I appreciate your have been most helpful.

By W.DeBord on Friday, April 20, 2001 - 09:00 am: Edit

I wondered...theres alot of information with alot of details that everyone finds abit confusing at times.

Joel said what I was trying to say in one line "Couverture is what most folks simply call chocolate". Don't split hairs over brands....I think your abilities/skill/knowledge as a baker will make more of a difference in the quality of your product than the chocolate you use. When you get to a professional level then you might want to be more selective (even so, you still have to keep your cutomers tastes in mind).

Since your wanting to learn, why don't you try a couple of taste tests at home? Bake the same dessert with two different chocolates and see what you and your family think, can you tell the difference? Also do this with a non baked items like mousse.

You have to deside if you want semi-sweet or bittersweet, too?

P.S. I use cocoa powder in my chocolate cakes.

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