by Stephanie Zonis
These suggestions relate (mostly) to chocolate in larger bars (over 8 ounces or so), although the companies listed may carry chocolate in smaller bars as well. This chocolate is couverture, used for candymaking and good baking, and it must be chopped before use. As this is "the good stuff," it will be expensive, but please comparison-shop before you buy; it can really save you some money. It's best to order this chocolate during the cooler months, as many companies either don't ship in warm weather or require special shipping procedures/packaging then, thus increasing your costs.
Please try a number of the chocolates listed below to find out your preferences. with high-quality chocolate, there is no best brand--except the one you like the most. All of the brands listed in this section have reputations for excellence, but all are different to work with and no two will taste the same.
If you're trying to find good chocolate locally, look in the phone book; try listings for "Chocolate and Cocoa" or "Candy Manufacturing Supplies." Check gourmet or specialty stores in your area to see what they stock, or ask a local candy manufacturer if they'll sell you some of what they use.
If you can't find good chocolate where you live, consider ordering from any of the following companies. Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers given are toll free. You'll have to check individual websites to see if electronic ordering is available. If there are no comments after a company, it only means that I don't know much about them:
Sweet Celebrations (800) 328-6722 or www.sweetc.com. Callebaut, Valrhona, Merckens, Peter's. A reliable company with fast service--and a dynamite catalog.
Gourmail (800) 366-5900, ext. 96 or www.gourmail.com. Callebaut, Cacao Barry, Valrhona, Peter's. A sixty dollar minimum order (split it with a friend if you don't need that much chocolate).
A Cook's Wares (800) 915-9788 or www.cookswares.com. Callebaut, Merckens. Another company with a beautiful catalog.
The King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue (800) 827-6836 or www.kingarthurflour.com. Merckens, Van Leer, Guittard, Peter's, Scharffen Berger, and others. Great catalog and swift service.
Sur La Table (800) 243-0852 or www.surlatable.com. Scharffen Berger. Pretty catalog.
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company (800) LUV-CHOC or www.omanhene.com. This company makes a lovely dark milk chocolate (yes, you read that correctly) in ingots of 0.7 ounces each, which is OK as you must chop the chocolate anyhow. Ask about availability of the bars in larger lots than listed on the website.
Dean & Deluca. To my disappointment, Dean & Deluca is no longer carrying couverture in their catalog or on their website. However, their customer service department has told me that the individual stores still carry couverture and will ship it as requested. I called the New York City store; their couverture is priced by the pound, but they'll sell as little as a quarter-pound. This store carries Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, and Callebaut. It's a good idea to speak to the pastry department, who knows the various types of each brand on hand. The stores in other locations may stock different chocolates or have other shipping policies, so call to find out what's what. Phone numbers: for the New York store, (800) 999-0306; for the California store, (877) 332-6946; and for the Washington, D.C. store, (800) 925-7854.
www.chocosphere.com. Scharffen Berger, Cote D'Or, Callebaut, Valrhona, Michel Cluizel.
www.qzina.com. Cacao Barry, Callebaut, Lindt. You must click on individual chocolate listings to see bar sizes here, and the sizes seem to be only in metric (which makes sense; most of these bars are made in Europe). The descriptions of each product tell you that particular chocolate's best uses, a nice feature.
www.dutchmarket.com/chocolate.html. Cote D'Or.
www.tesserachocolate.com. Chocovic, Carma, Valrhona.
www.gourmetmarket.com. Lindt, Michel Cluizel, Callebaut, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger.
www.chocolatepicure.com. Valrhona, bars from The Chocolate Society (in London).
www.onlygourmet.com. El Rey, Bernard C. Also Fenton & Lee wafers, to which I'm quite partial.
While the above listings are not exhaustive, they'll give you a few good starting places. Take your time, try at least several different brands, and don't be afraid to keep comparing what you like against other chocolates. That's the only way you'll discover what works best for you.
Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created November 1999
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