Baking: Which Chocolate Works Best?

(Image credit: Nina Callaway)

While working on a chocolate recipe for this afternoon, we realized that we generally keep on hand two to four different brands of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate.

Why so many? Rather than sticking loyally to one brand, we use several different ones, depending on what we’re baking. (Please note – this is entirely different from our favorite chocolate for eating. We keep a separate stash box, ready for late night chocolate cravings. Don’t worry.)

We often turn to Scharffen Berger. Developed by a former champagne maker, it has a full, fruity flavor that helps it to pair with wine. With dense chocolate cakes, mousses, or truffles, this fruitiness is a welcome note that we think makes things fudgier.

But when making a classic chocolate chip cookie, or other old-fashioned desserts, we find that fruity note distracting. It just doesn’t make things taste like Mom made them. So instead, we turn to Callebaut. In chocolate chip cookies, it melts in your mouth smoothly and creamily. You can buy it in huge chunks, and its flavor is richly chocolaty without any bitter aftertaste.

Price is part of the reason why there are sometimes other brands in our house. Ghirardelli can be a bit waxy, but it’s sold in our regular grocery store, and it’s far more affordable than any of these other brands. When making large quantities of desserts, or when the budget’s a bit tight, Ghirardelli works just fine.

And when we want to make that one spectacular dessert, where price isn’t an factor, we’ll occasionally buy Valhrona. Its depth of flavor is unparalleled, and we love that it’s available in many different percentages.

Other than these four, there are other brands we’ve used and liked, such as Dagoba, and E. Guittard. But they aren’t available as readily and in quantities suited for baking.

What chocolate do you use for baking, and why? Are you a multiple chocolate household?

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