August 15, 2004
recently much emphasis has been on the amount of cocoa mass chocolate should have for both cooking and general consumption. I'm always reading recipes which say at least 70% and I do use and eat high cocoa mass chocolate. why therefore is valrhona chocolate so highly esteemed? and why is the cooking chocolate at 61% the chocolate of choice? generally their cocoa mass seems to hover around 65% so why do people say its the best. I've never cooked with valrohna but surely once youve mixed in your other ingredients the chocolate flavour isnt as strong as with a higher percentage bar. any suggestions on which chocolate to use for cooking? normally i use green and blacks 72%.
August 1, 2006
Well, I'm not the definitive source for the answer, but I might be able to help a little. Also, I'm currently in a hotel room, so I'll be brief.
A 70% chocolate is usually called for in order to achieve a stronger chocolate flavor than a semisweet can deliver. Also, because a higher percentage chocolate contains more fat and less sugar than chocolate of a lower percentage, the texture is affected, so adjustments to the recipe have to be made accordingly. Usually, the type of chocolate is often chosen based on the cook's/baker's whim, so you could basically use any kind of chocolate you want, just so that you make the correct adjustments. In addition, certain chocolates work better with recipes better than others. As you probably know, each chocolate has its own flavor profile and characteristics, so where one chocolate might work wonderfully in a fruit-based dessert, another will work perfectly in a nut-based dessert. You also have to take into consideration the flavor and intensity of the chocolate itself, regardless of cocoa content, because, for example, a delicate chocolate such as Porcelana would essentially get lost in any dessert, whereas Guanaja would hold up very well with strong-flavored ingredients.
October 10, 2003
I agree with Montegrano. I would say it is generally a false statement that higher cocoa percentage is better. Previously I used to experiment with different chocolates in desserts, and to some extent I still do with hot chocolate. The cocoa percentage has not that much to say compared to the flavor of the chocolate. In fact hot chocolate made on Valrhona's Manjari (64%) has a much stronger taste than Dolfin's flaked chocolate (77%). Some bars keep their distinct flavor even after blended with hot milk, while with others it is simply a waste and better to eat them as they are. Furthermore, some chocolates with very high cocoa percentage (85% and above) can at times be quite difficult to handle. I recall I tried making mousse out of a 99 or 100% bar a short year ago (can't remember which bar it was), and it didn't work. Also, as Montegrano says, one has to compensate with more sugar in the recipe.
As for why Valrhona is so highly esteemed - see some of the other topics ;-)
Btw, I haven't tried cooking with any Porcelana, but I can recommend Amedei's Chuao for desserts with butter, salt - for example a not too creamy mousse.