Rico suave

Something I’ve often read in the media is that there’s no difference between eating chocolate and baking chocolate. I can only assume that the people who say this are selling very expensive chocolate.

Now, I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t pay a lot for good chocolate–I love some of Pralus’s $8 bars, and the bar I carry with me whenever possible is Valrhona Le Noir Amer, which is thankfully $2.29 at Trader Joe’s. But my baking chocolate of choice is Ghirardelli.

Ghirardelli’s 60 percent chocolate chips are the ultimate choice for cookies, and I say this having tried just about everything, including chopping up various kinds of chocolate bars. Their semisweet bars are quite good.

And I was just introduced to their 4 ounce unsweetened bar. Finding quality unsweetened chocolate is a problem. Few recipes call for it, but one that does is Alice Medrich’s New Classic Brownies, found in her book Bittersweet. I’ve tried using bittersweet chocolate and reducing the sugar, but the result just isn’t the same. No way am I going to buy Hershey’s or Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. Frankly, even if it were good, which it isn’t, it would so conflict with my self-image that I would explode, right there in the chocolate aisle.

What I’ve been buying is Scharffen-Berger. I can’t argue with the quality–it makes great brownies. But I can argue with the price–$12.99 for 10 ounces at my local supermarket. It’s not like I make brownies so often that this represents a major expense, but I’d prefer to reallocate those funds toward Pralus bars if possible. When I was at Whole Foods yesterday, I noticed they had Ghirardelli unsweetened bars, and not only were they about half the price, but they’re 4 ounce bars, which is exactly what the recipe calls for. With the Scharffen-Berger, I would end up with this lonely unsweetened nugget at the end.

I made brownies today with the Ghirardelli, and they were just as good as the S-B version.

Ghirardelli also recently introduced a 70 percent bar (aimed at bakers), a 72 percent bar (aimed at eaters), and some flavored bars in their new Intense Dark series. I tried the espresso bar, and what is not to like?

Really, I’m delighted with Ghirardelli. In most supermarkets, it’s the only chocolate in the baking aisle that doesn’t suck. So it don’t have to be good, just better than lousy. They’re busting through the glass ceiling of low expectations and–er, anyway, good chocolate. Mmm.

9 thoughts on “Rico suave

  1. ctate

    My wife is actually deeply unhappy with Ghirardelli: they have discontinued their rice-crisp bar. This is a tragedy of the first order.

  2. Laurel

    If you ever hve more lonely unsweetened nuggets, try chopping them up and mixing them with sweet dried fruit, like raisins, figs or dried apricots..

  3. Kris

    I’m the only dark-chocolate lover in my family. I made chocolate chip cookies with the Ghiradelli 60%, and the other two people in my household took one bite and went “What travesty have you made? These are BITTER!”

    I thought they were wonderful, but I’ve learned not to bake with the good stuff for them. :)

  4. Wendy

    Has Laurie tried her drinking chocolate? Schokinag makes baking chocolate, too, and I’m curious about it since the drinking chocolate is so good. (It’s on the expensive side, though.)

  5. Maggi

    I like Sharffen-Berger as well. Although, I am not liking them as much since being bought out by Hershey. :( It’s just a mental thing I guess…

  6. Liza

    There’s a new bakery down the street from my office (http://www.flourbakery.com/flourbakerymenu.htm) and they sell “scharffenberger double chocolate” cookies. I have no way of knowing whether they are bullshitting about the Scharffenberger part, but they are incredible (and barely sweet, which I like).

    On a non-chocolate note they also have literally the best BLT ever. I said as much when I tried it, and then this week some local magazine nominated them for “Best BLT.” It must be true!

  7. KathyR

    I’m skeptical, but I’ll try it someday if I run across the unsweetened Ghirardelli. I don’t dislike their chocolate, but find it overly sweet and not very complex. I actually had a brownie from a deli near my house that had no discernible chocolate taste whatsoever, and they claim to use Ghirardelli.

    And I make those Alice Medrich brownies once or twice a month, and I’ve been using the bittersweet bars from TJ’s. I have made the unsweetened chocolate version, but I sometimes have a hard time laying my hands on unsweetened chocolate. If only TJ’s made an unsweetened Pound Plus.

  8. KathyR

    I also meant to say that I regularly see Scharffen Berger (is that one of those made-up names like Haagen Dazs?) unsweetened for $9.50, even in the snootiest of stores.

Comments are closed.