Originally posted by crimsonplum
My husband and I have been making chocolates (truffles, barks, etc) for friends & family at Christmas for several years, and recently decided to make it a year-round hobby. So we’re pretty small-time, though we may decide to sell some on Etsy now and then.
We’ve mostly been using Ghirardelli 60% chips for a lot of our chocolate-making, but we’d love to upgrade. We tried a couple Callebaut offerings from Whole Foods, but although they tasted good, they were goopy and hard to work with. (Side note: Very sad that WF stopped carrying bulk Valrhona!) I’d like to use real couverture chocolate, but it’s a) hard to find in small amounts online (many places want you to buy 5 lbs minimum, which is a lot when we don’t know if we like it yet!) and b) the very few places that will let me order 1 lb, the shipping is more than the chocolate and puts it well over $10/lb when we’d like to stick in the $8-10/lb range if possible.
That’s your basic problem. You are in essence looking for chocolate at bulk prices in non-bulk quantities. Companies like Callebaut, Guittard, even Valrhona, produce couverture chocolate that easily gets below that price, provided you’re buying in bulk quantity.
That’s just pure economies of scale. For instance, one reason is that suppliers are under the same laws of distribution cost that you’ve observed: namely that to ship small quantities is very expensive relative to the amount being shipped. Thus the price for small-volume inevitably goes up.
The only way to get around that is to find shops that buy in bulk sizes and then break it up themselves into retail-size pieces. These are mostly health food shops and some high-end supermarkets. Note, however, that not all such shops will say what chocolate it is, from what manufacturer.
Goopiness, by the way, simply means you got a high-viscosity formulation. Callebaut makes all grades of chocolate for just about any conceivable use, and it’s just a matter of finding those with low-viscosity formulations (high cocoa butter percentage)
Generally speaking the cheapest quality chocolate you’ll readily find in the US is Guittard. I have a feeling they’ll be the ones you’ll decide upon given your price range. In the US Guittard also has good distribution, making it likely you’ll find a health food shop carrying them.
It’s also worth noting that Chocosphere is pretty reasonable if you have them ship Ground. That’s not an option in the summer, but once fall comes around it’s a good way to go.