March 4, 2007 10:31 PM   Subscribe

What amazing chocolate do you recommend?

We've all had the experience of eating something we've all had before -- like, say, cheese -- but being so mystified / shocked / overpowered / reminded of our own mortality that it brands us for life.

I wish to have that experience with chocolate from someone who has actually felt that way, rather than guesstimating success from a retailer's blurb. Please help me.
posted by felix to Food & Drink (69 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Schwarze Herren bittersweet chocolate. It's made by Stollwerck, and as far as I know, not readily available here in the U.S.
posted by oaf at 10:42 PM on March 4, 2007

Cadbury Flake

Cadbury Fruit & Nut

I know, they're not super-duper sexy. The former is a UK staple, while the latter is in every supermarket in the U.S. And they're now owned by Hershey!

Screw the choco-purists. I f'n LOVE them. I get all googly-eyed when I see a Flake available in the U.S. Never understood why it was never marketed here to any huge degree.
posted by frogan at 10:47 PM on March 4, 2007

This is never going to make the Noka Chocolates Hall of Exclusiveness, but quite frankly I think a Li'l Debbie Fudge Round is one of the sublime chocolate experiences that can be had.

At 35 cents it is an untold bargain. I've tried the best: Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, various types of 85% cacao; and that stuff can be very good indeed. But the Fudge Round will always to me represent the very maximum in chocolate.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:02 PM on March 4, 2007

Not quite a mystical experience, but my favourite chocolate evar is Michel Cluizel's 'Mangaro Noir.'
posted by misteraitch at 11:08 PM on March 4, 2007

trader joe's french chocolate truffles.

dollar for dollar, best chocolate nosh ever.
posted by bryak at 11:10 PM on March 4, 2007

If you're into high cocoa solids dark, Lindt 85 is a very good experience. This bar is, as its label identifies, 85% cocoa solids. There is only enough sugar and cocoa butter to bind the solids into a bar, and provide a very slow melt on the tongue.

This is nothing like milk chocolate, which may be as low as 20% cocoa solids, and have 4 times the sugar, plus milk solids, lecithin, waxes, vegetable fats and other materials. The rate of melt on the tongue of Lindt 85 is very slow, a square taking several minutes to dissolve fully in the mouth. There is an incredible intensity to the slowly released flavor that is hard to describe, and deep resonances in the smells released. This is definitely not chocolate to chew and swallow. It is an excellent chocolate for shaving over coffee drinks, and stands up to brandy admirably. A single bar is probably too much chocolate for most people to consume in a day. (The price quoted on the linked Web site is for a 6 bar carton).
posted by paulsc at 11:13 PM on March 4, 2007

rechiutti, no contest. better than vosges, better than richart, better than jacques torres.
posted by judith at 11:15 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Kinder Surprise chocolate. Love it.
posted by archagon at 11:23 PM on March 4, 2007

Chuao Chocolatier, based in San Diego. They have their own stores (including one in Irvine, which is practically next door to you and certainly worth the trip), and there are a lot of independent shops that sell their bars and hot chocolates - you can also order pretty much anything from them online, but it costs an arm and a leg to ship. Spicy Maya hot chocolate changed the way I looked at chocolate. If you can wait for summer, try it iced. My god. It is like drinking magic. It is rich, spicy, chocolaty heaven no matter the temperature. At the stores they make a mocha with it, too, which is pretty transcendent.

Don't get me wrong - they make good soft centers, too; I'm partial to Cambur, Chevere, Cacique, and Le Citron. You really can't go wrong, I don't think I've ever had a bad chocolate there. My father had big expectations for Modena and was a little let down, but ultimately they're all really good. The best one I've had was one that was only temporary that was filled with some sort of unholy mix of nice German beer and chocolate buttercream. Man. That was freaking awesome, and I'm bummed it didn't make it into the permanent lineup. But the chocolates aren't all about chocolate as they put a lot of effort into the fillings too. The drinking chocolate is where it's at for sheer delicion.

My family is religious about Chuao. When my mom comes down to visit me we always go there, and it's pretty much expected that I get her a box for every holiday.

And, if you're in the mood for something a little easier to find, dark chocolate Toblerone never disappoints. And in a bummed-out mood, sometimes a See's Scotchmallow is like nothing else.

Aaah, clearly I live to eat. Oh god, and the next time you're in Paris look up Jean-Paul Hevin.
posted by crinklebat at 11:26 PM on March 4, 2007

Eek, delicion appears to be a word I made up. A useful made-up word, but still. Deliciousness?
posted by crinklebat at 11:30 PM on March 4, 2007

For American chocolate, I'm pretty fond of Scharffen Berger.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:31 PM on March 4, 2007

I will second the Trader Joe's truffles, they are superb! But then, I also like Hershey's so perhaps I'm a choco-philistine?
posted by fenriq at 11:32 PM on March 4, 2007

I always liked World's Finest Chocolate, myself.
posted by dilettante at 11:40 PM on March 4, 2007

Vosges is horrible: it tastes bad and is overpriced.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 AM on March 5, 2007

Pierre Marcolini
posted by NekulturnY at 12:15 AM on March 5, 2007

I second the Lindt 85, it's even available in quite a few supermarkets these days. Apparently the U.K. version isn't nearly as good as the one available in the U.S.

I've found the site to be a pretty good resource for chocolate reviews. There's only a handful of people who do the main reviews, but I find them pretty well informed. The forums are also a good place to check out other people's opinions. Check out the top ten list as well.

Theo Chocolates is small Seattle based chocolate company that's doing some pretty wonderful stuff at the moment (including fair trade). Unfortunately their best chocolate is only available at their store. But they've got a 3400 Phinney line which you can mail-order and is available in the west. It features more experimental flavor combinations, most of which are quite good. Scharffen Berger, as already been mentioned, is very good too (but owned by Hersheys if that sorta thing bothers you).

There's plenty of amazing European chocolate as well. Valrhona is the most widely known, but they're somewhat sensitive about where they allow their chocolates to be sold. Check the 70percent site for more recommendations.

Sorry if I haven't completely answered your question. But start with the Lindt 85 and from there, you can follow the resources for other good chocolate.
posted by timelord at 12:45 AM on March 5, 2007

If you just want maximum bang-for-the-buck couverture, no fancy packaging, I'm terribly fond of El Rey, a Venezuelan chocolate that you should be able to find in bricks alongside the Scharfenberger and Callebaut and Valhrona couverture at Whole Foods. (Well, OK, they do actually make pretty little wrapped bars and bagged discs too, but I've not yet seen them in any of my usual stores. And since the bricks are a cooking staple in my kitchen I've never bothered to hunt down the tiny snack portions when I could just slice off a chunk of the baking stash.) Their "Icoa" white in particular is the finest plain white chocolate I've ever had -- lusciously rich and creamy with all the cacao butter, and delicately perfumed, not the coarse vanilla-sugar bluntness of so many white chocolates. And they've got a range of different lovely dark bittersweet varieties -- their least-sugary/highest-cacao percentage dark, "Apamate", is my usual standby, but I like a really aggressive bittersweetness: for something a bit sweeter but just as lush, try their "Bucare". Oh, and they even have some nicely complex and non-cloying milk chocolates, if that is how you roll.

If you're looking more for presentation and incredible fillings and such, try Z Chocolat...incredible flavor combinations, if you want a lavish gift to knock the socks off a chocolate lover these are perfection.

Or if you like interesting flavored chocolates but are not so much into the ganache/caramel/etc. filled sort, try Dolfin Chocolat for delightful bars and bite-size squares infused with flavors from the traditional (mint, coffe, orange) to the surprisingly addictive (ginger, Earl Grey tea, pink peppercorn).

Oh, if you do end up going for huge bricks of some fine bittersweet, and are in need of recipes to use them in, these brownies are sin on a plate. Don't skimp on quality for the chocolate and cocoa powder, and you will be rewarded. Beware taking them to parties, people will start demanding you make them all the time...
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 12:51 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I third the Lindt 85, and would also add Dagoba. Dagoba is the bomb. I think it's even a little better than the Lindt 85.

Warning: these chocolates taste nothing like what many people conceive of as "chocolate." They are wonderful, but they aren't sweet. Eat with caution (and perhaps a nice glass of Port).
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:52 AM on March 5, 2007

Also, try the Chucuri or the Ambanja from Guittard , another California based chocolate company (they supply the couverture for See's candy and also make some pretty mean chocolate chips).

One thing worth mentioning, all this is pretty serious chocolate. I'm not sure the best way to approach it all, but you might want to go in with a few different bars and also something familiar, so you'll have something to compare against.
posted by timelord at 12:56 AM on March 5, 2007

Eat with caution (and perhaps a nice glass of Port).

Or a nice orange muscat...a glass of Essensia, a nibble of a fine bittersweet chocolate, ah, paradise for the taste buds...
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 12:56 AM on March 5, 2007

Finally, here's some good background from David Lebovitz, someone who knows a bit about chocolate.
posted by timelord at 1:08 AM on March 5, 2007

Cadbury Furry Friends. I don't know what it is about this otherwise ordinary commercial milk chocolate, but once transformed into these thin tablets it has an amazing snap and a fantastic chocolate flavour and texture.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:52 AM on March 5, 2007

If your tastes run to sweet milk chocolate type products, might I also suggest the fabulous Terry's Chocolate Orange, which sounds weird, but is amazingly wonderful, as such things go? It's my favorite Christmas present, for both giving and receiving.
posted by paulsc at 2:11 AM on March 5, 2007

To go a bit more highbrow: I live near both Rococo and L'Artisan du Chocolat, and they're both astoundingly good. I personally like Rococo a bit better, but it's going to depend on your personal taste.

Also, Fortnum and Mason's port wine truffles are da bomb. I couldn't find a specific link to them, but Fortnum's also do Italian Spooning Chocolate, which is handy for spooning over Italians.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:45 AM on March 5, 2007

Amedei is expensive even compared to a lot of other gourmet chocolate bars, but I think it's really worth the money to try it at least once. I've tried the Chuao and the 9, and they are both wonderful.

I really like Lindt, it's what I buy regularly and it's better tasting than several considerably more expensive bars I've tried, but when you try the Amedei I think you'll find it a qualitatively different experience. This is based on 70% chocolate, I'm not really that into 85s.

If you have a hard time arguing yourself into paying 9 bucks for a 50g bar of chocolate, I suggest you compare what you're getting with what you get when you buy a bottle of wine or other luxuries, it's really not so bad.
posted by teleskiving at 2:55 AM on March 5, 2007

Taste in chocolate is like taste in anything - my tastes are likely different than yours. Your question doesn't suggest what kinds (if any) of chocolate you've eaten and prefer. Only milk chocolate, dark chocolate or faux chocolate?

If you want to get into dark chocolates, I've found a place with a decent selection is Target's candy aisle. At the very least they carry the Lindt 85 bars mentioned above, though they have other choices. Try a couple of different bars and see what you like. They're inexpensive enough so it's no big deal to experiment.

I've tried the Lindt, and it's just a little to non-sweet for me. My latest favorite is my local grocery's store brand dark chocolate bar.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:15 AM on March 5, 2007

If you can find a local chocolatier and have some freshly-made chocolate, that could be life-changing. A guy who made his own truffles came to a local store to sell them -- he focused on the flavor of the chocolate rather than fancy shapes, also -- and I got to taste a truffle that had been made just that morning. Very good. Amazingly good. Qualitatively different from any chocolate I'd had before.

Other than that, I've found the flavor of "Equal Exchange" to be really something. It's fair trade, which interested me to begin with, but the taste was really surprisingly wonderful. Now I seek it out just for that.

Chocolate's not particularly good for me, so it has to be really special for me to indulge.
posted by amtho at 3:53 AM on March 5, 2007

Betsy Ann Chocolates from Pittsburgh - a small business that makes the BEST truffles. I prefer the American truffles, but the International truffles are terrific if you like things a little less sweet. They make excellent-tasting chocolate, but not cheap.

By the way, their Easter eggs are worth a trip to Pittsburgh, if you like that kind of thing. And they ship!

Chcolate-covered Flake bars are delicious, but hard to find here. Being from Pennsylvania, I like a plain old Hershey bar, too. It's the chocolate I grew up with, & makes me think of Halloween. Dagoba is good - I second that Vosges is awful - it's the only chocoate, I think, that I've ever thrown out.
posted by clarkstonian at 4:00 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

The dark chocolate variety of Tim Tams are absolutely sublime. Otherwise drop into Sprungli the next time you are in Switzerland.
posted by michswiss at 4:31 AM on March 5, 2007

Oh my god, somebody had to break out the tim tams -- Damn you, michswiss! I will be longing all day for something that is inanely out of my reach.

I wanted to throw in sea salted, chocolate covered caramels as a very good chocolate experience. Combined with a brut sparkling wine like the very good for the money Gruet Brut (yes! from New Mexico!) and preferably a hot tub, and you will indeed be reminded of your own mortality and grateful for the time in between now and then.

(Also second the Lindt 85 and Dagoba for chocolate in easy reach -- don't be afraid to try flavored chocolate w/Dagoba, it's often nicely subtle.)
posted by 10ch at 4:52 AM on March 5, 2007

My husband swears by Bridgewater Chocolate.
posted by Lucinda at 5:00 AM on March 5, 2007

hey Smilla's Sense of Snark, I think you are the first person (other than myself) I've run into that digs Essencia and a nice bittersweet. Everyone I've shared it with doesn't get it. Cheers!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:02 AM on March 5, 2007

I love Callebaut Select. Couverture quality, melts nicely on the tongue or in the melting pot, not too sweet.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2007

De Vries - A true bean to bar operation.
posted by Cool Alex at 5:17 AM on March 5, 2007

(Full disclosure - I don't eat dark chocolate, so all of the below comments are for milk chocolate only.)

After eating Wilbur Chocolate, for the first time, all other chocolate has been spoiled for me. It's to the point that most chocolates taste like brown wax in comparison.

A friend gave us a bag of Burdick chocolate to use as hot cocoa. It's pretty much just shaved chunks of chocolate to mix in with hot milk. Again, I hate to drink anything else when I'm craving cocoa.

Whenever I travel, I take a box of Sarris chocolate covered pretzels as my hostess gift. I've convinced more than one person to visit Pittsburgh based on the promise to take them to the Sarris factory. It's a small local company, but I think that helps the quality significantly.

I'll also say this about the above mentioned Betsy Ann chocolates - I've been in their stores, and their customer service is second to none. It's rare for me to walk out of a place and be stunned at the level of service recieved. That, and their peanut butter meltaways are drool worthy.
posted by librarianamy at 5:23 AM on March 5, 2007

Melt in Notting Hill will probably ship something out to you. They don't list their bars, but they do the best single plantation ~65% dark chocolate I've found anywhere in Europe or North America. The truffles they do are right up there too.
You could probably get them to do a custom order for you, if you wanted the bars.
Their stuff is stupidly expensive though, just to warn you. I paid about $14 USD for a 90g bar on Saturday.
posted by Kreiger at 5:30 AM on March 5, 2007

Seconding Dagoba, and can't believe nobody's mentioned Green and Black's yet. It's not the best in the world or anything, but it's readily available, and very, very good.
posted by box at 6:00 AM on March 5, 2007

Seconding Green & Black's for chocolate bars; and a first mention of Leonidas for chocolates. (Leonidas is my standard method of proving to the misguided that Godiva is crappy.)

And if you're anywhere near New York, it's worth a visit to The Bald Man (aka Max Brenner).
posted by j-dawg at 6:23 AM on March 5, 2007

If you're ever in Madison, Zanzibar by Chocolate Shoppe sets the bar for chocolate ice cream, IMO.
posted by blueshammer at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2007

thirding trader joe's dark chocolate truffle bar. amazing.
posted by apostrophe at 6:44 AM on March 5, 2007

Candinas Chocolatier. Markus Candinas went to Switzerland to learn to make chocolate, and came back and set up shop in Wisconsin. No preservatives, so you have to get them there or mail order them. (See also.) They're also rather known for their packaging, so they're the perfect gift for chocoholics who are into design.
posted by raf at 6:46 AM on March 5, 2007

librarianamy is right on about L.A.Burdick's. Truly awesome hot cocoa, and I'm a sucker for their chocolate penguins and chocolate mice (dark chocolate ganache with lemon and orange, respectively, both covered in dark chocolate, with almonds forming the ears and wings. mmmmmm.) They do ship, though it's expensive. Definitely worth stopping by their cafe if you're in the Boston/Cambridge area!
posted by ubersturm at 7:01 AM on March 5, 2007

Are you used to bittersweet chocolate? If you mostly eat the milky stuff, you might try starting with something in the 60% cocoa range and working your way up. Two of my favorite brands, Chocolove and Endangered Species Chocolate Co., are in between the Cadbury and Scharffen Berger ends of the price/quality spectrum and have a wide range of cocoa percentages that are clearly labeled on the bars. As you get more used to the less sweet chocolate, it's easier to taste the more subtle flavors and figure out what you like in a chocolate bar. I've found I like South American and Belgian chocolates best, Swiss not so much (but don't get me wrong, it's still chocolate), and I love Endangered Species' 88% Black Panther bar, but I wouldn't have back when I still ate milk chocolate.
posted by clavicle at 7:04 AM on March 5, 2007

I recently tried a Dagoba Lavender bar, and it was really good - it has blueberry and lavender in it. I'm also a huge fan of Cadbury Dairy Milk, which is more common than my favorite, Ritter Sport Alpine Milk.

I'm a huge fan of Burdick's for their cute chocolate animals, their lovely assortment boxes, and their amazing in-house hot chocolate, but I've never tasted their chocolate as a comparison point with other chocolates.
For Christmas, a friend gave me a box of Lake Champlain chocolates, and they were delicious.
I recommend either brand for delicious, nicely-presented gifts, or as great pieces to include in a tasting.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2007

Green and Black's are indeed lovely-- I like their spicy Maya Gold bars.

When I'm craving milk chocolate, I go for Lindt's Lindor truffle thingies. They are quite sweet, so the dark-and-bitter types will find them sickly, but I love them.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:26 AM on March 5, 2007

Second for the El Rey.
Cadbury Flake...Cadbury Fruit & Nut

I know, they're not super-duper sexy. The former is a UK staple, while the latter is in every supermarket in the U.S. And they're now owned by Hershey!
Not exactly. By mutual agreement, in the U.S., Hershey manufactures and distributes Cadbury's chocolate products. In the UK, Cadbury manufactures and distributes the Hershey brands. But, still two wholly separate companies.

(You can still get the Cadbury original stuff in the U.S., but usually at specialty shops or importers. Look on the back -- if the nutritional information listing looks different than the FDA standard, and especially if there is also a set of ingredients printed in Arabic, it's the original stuff, not Hershey-in-disguise.)
posted by pineapple at 7:32 AM on March 5, 2007

I am not generally a fan of mint flavoring at all. However, I'm quite surprised that nobody here has mentioned Frango Mints. Perhaps because I'm from Chicago I'm more exposed than most to these?

While I'm a bit of a chocolate purist, I'm still taken to a place of happiness when I eat a Frango Mint.

Other spectacular chocolate very local to a place I once lived (Champaign, Illinois): Rubens Chocolatier which did at one point (and may still!) ship orders. The owner comes straight from Belgium and the chocolates are amazing.
posted by twiggy at 7:43 AM on March 5, 2007

Scharffen Berger is my favourite that is readily available in a local supermarket (Whole Food’s.) Both SB and Green and Black’s have recently been bought out by the big guys (Hershey and Cadbury, respectively, I think.)

For Valentine’s Day, I bought a single-origin, 75% cocoa Pralus sampler from Chocosphere, who seem to be a pretty good mail-order source for fine chocolates. I haven’t developed a palate for chocolate yet, though I can assert that the SB milk chocolate is far and away better than a Toblerone, and the various Pralus chocolates do have an interesting bouquet.
posted by ijoshua at 7:45 AM on March 5, 2007

As a Swiss I can't believe people are recommending run of the mill Lindt!

But moving on...

If you ever can make it to Zürich, Confiserie Sprüngli Cru Sauvage truffles, made from wild cacao grown only in some obscure corner of Bolivia, is an orgasm in chocolate form. Whenever I am in trouble at home, a box of these (usually) makes everything better again.
posted by derMax at 7:57 AM on March 5, 2007

Seconding Dolfin, but only the Pink Peppercorn. It's unexpectedly subtle, satisfying in tiny doses so a bar can last weeks, and the slight heat of the pepper combined with the intense dark chocolate transforms both tastes into something new. I recently picked up Dolfin's Earl Gray and Green Aniseed, and found both dull-to-cloying. Haven't tried any of their milk chocolates. Their tobacco pouch packaging is brilliant, keeping the bar fresh while turning consumption into a drug-like ritual.

Cote d'Or is also quite nice, if you like strong bittersweets with toasted nuts, that don't melt too quickly. Also Belgian.
posted by Scram at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2007

Fran's Grey Salt Caramels. Seriously. These are a religious experience.
posted by aebaxter at 8:40 AM on March 5, 2007

Any varietals- The Cluziel and Pralus come to mind- are incredibly eye opening and really changed the way I thought about chocolate. If you happen near a La Maison outlet (NYC, Paris, Tokyo, I believe) the Mint filled square is a real revelation.

It can be tricky to find a reliable supplier for many small-scale, high-grade chocolates because many designers only care to sell their own stuff and many suppliers don't wanna sell to just anybody. To that end, the Chocolate Path in Montclair, New Jersey is pretty worth your time
posted by GilloD at 9:09 AM on March 5, 2007

Jacques Torres Chocolate is breathtakingly good. Especially this Hot Chocolate.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:18 AM on March 5, 2007

I love Lindt Truffles and Dagoba as well as the next diehard choc fiend, but I'd have to agree with Judith. Recchiuti is to other good chocolate as French Laundry is to other good restaurants.
posted by rdc at 9:46 AM on March 5, 2007

I'll second the Callebaut. It's also wonderful for baking. I use their bittersweet to make a flourless chocolate cake (Gateau de Reine de Saba) that gets raves. The quality of the chocolate really makes a difference.
posted by ljshapiro at 11:02 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Second what pineapple said about the Hershey/Cadbury relationship. I love the European version of the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar (mine come in from Ireland) but the Hershey version is total crap. Eventually learned to check the labels, the Hershey manufactured bars say something like 'Manufactured under license by Hershey...' on the back.
Trader Joe's has had some surprisingly good chocolates as well.
posted by evilelf at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2007

At the risk of self-linking to my own fpp, this dallasfood article compares several single origin chocolates with detailed tasting notes. Sources available in this epilogue.
posted by hindmost at 1:15 PM on March 5, 2007

I was going to point to the dallasfood article, but I see someone's already done that. I like Michel Cluizel, too.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2007

Some really good suggestions here, but I have to add my favorite milk chocolate - Marabou brand from Sweden. You can't really get it in the U.S., except if you visit a local specialty shop or an Ikea - who generally sell them in the food section.

Mmm... Marabou! (Famous slogan from the 1950s)
posted by gemmy at 3:58 PM on March 5, 2007

2 cents from total amateur here, compared to all the above submissions:

but i've been smitten by Kraft's Milka -Milk & Joghurt.

It's milk chocolate, white filling that is yougurt-ish tangy, with lil rice krispies. All together it's wonderful. I found it in the "foreign foods" section of my C-Town . And incidentally the 15 people or so that I have introduced to it in the past year love it as well.
posted by stavx at 5:28 PM on March 5, 2007

This thread is just...yeah. A permanent favorite.

I'll nth the recs for El Rey white chocolate. I hate white chocolate - except for El Rey's. If you make peppermint bark, use this stuff.

I don't know what couverture this guy uses, but his truffles are 87 million times more delicious than Recchiuti, and less expensive. Do yourself a favor and order some XoX Truffles.
posted by rtha at 6:14 PM on March 5, 2007

Can't believe it: 61 comments and only one mention of Leonidas? Leonidas is the mystical experience you're looking for. Totally traditional (no fancy flavors) but incredible. And not luxury-priced either.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:21 PM on March 5, 2007

allterrainbrain: I've heard raves about Leonidas, but didn't mention it because I've never been lucky enough to try any myself.

But if anyone wants to send me a box I'd be more than happy to do a taste test and post my impressions!
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2007

It's always a bit strange to see people gush about chocolates that are absolutely the bestest, when they usually know nothing about how chocolate is produced.

Most chocolatiers use mass produced ValRhona or Callebaut chocolate, which they melt, fill and model in a different form. I suspect that most chocolate that has been named in this thread is manufactured by just a handful of big chocolate producers. Any difference in taste is probably due to a difference in sugar content, the amount of pure cocoa, the amount of vegetable oil (none in Marcolini chocolate), and the percentage of milk.

Bigger chocolatiers can have a covering chocolate made to their specs, in addition to the wide variety of chocolates that the manufacturers have in their assortment - I believe Callebaut has something like 1600 different types of covering chocolate.

Leonidas is commonly described in Belgium as the "Ford" amongst chocolates. Higher end brands are, in ascending order: Godiva, Neuhaus, Wittamer, Marcolini. Marcolini is considered the best chocolatier in Belgium - mostly because he actually makes (some of) his chocolate from bean to tablet/praline himself, instead of buying his covering chocolate.

When buying chocolate, opt for the one that has the shortest list of ingredients. Things like 'vegetable oil' and high doses of milk powder (or whey), stabilizing agents will affect taste, and have no business being in a high quality chocolate bar or praline. On Marcolini bars, the ingredients are listed as: cocoa (72 %), Tahiti vanilla pod, cane sugar, milk. That's it, and that's all you need to make a killer chocolate.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I won't be marking any 'best answers' in this thread, because they're all fantastic. Wow.
posted by felix at 8:54 AM on March 6, 2007

Belgians consider Godiva better than Leonidas? Huh! That's the opposite of what I've heard from people in the U.S. who know both. But I also guess it's possible there are different standards or processes for Godiva sold in Belgium?
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:31 AM on March 6, 2007

Santander Chocolate.

100% Pure Colombian Coffee.

You don't feel any gritty coffee-bean bits.
posted by bad grammar at 7:11 PM on March 6, 2007

dagoba xocolatl. and it's fair trade, so you don't feel dirty afterwards, either.

not fair trade, but still amazing, are cote d'or and cafe tasse chocolate bars.
posted by ifjuly at 8:38 AM on March 17, 2007

If you ever happen to find yourself in Adelaide, South Australia go to the little Haigh's Chocolates store at the top of Rundle Mall.

posted by gomichild at 11:04 AM on March 21, 2007

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