Brownies -- which chocolate or baking bars do you use?

I had a rare snow day with my boys yesterday and baked our usual staple. Lately, I’ve been tinkering around with different chocolate. I love how the taste varies each time. The recipe I use calls for semi-sweet chocolate, but I love using milk. I’ve used combos of Ghirardelli & Hershey , Scharffenberger & Lindt. So far, the milk chocolate combo of Cadbury’s (Dairy Milk) and Dove has been my favorite. Any other brownie bakers have certain chocolates they like that go great together?

I prefer dark chocolate in brownies - even semi-sweet is generally too sweet for my taste. I keep Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% (widely rumored to be repackaged Callebaut) in the pantry at all times, and that’s usually what I use. If I have other 70-85% chocolate in the house, I’ll use it, although I find that 85% is sometimes just a little too dark for recipes that call for semi-sweet, so the sugar occasionally needs to be adjusted. Obviously if a recipe calls for unsweetened, I’ll use that. Ghirardelli makes a good unsweetened bar, as does Scharffenberger.

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We have access to well priced Guittard from a grocery store that breaks down the large baking piece into small chunks wrapped so we just get what we need. We like them. Varlhona is a bit expensive so we can’t bring ourselves to try.

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How do you like it vs other branded chocolate? I don’t think I used it to bake before. I think many years ago I bought a bar to eat…

It’s not my favorite for eating plain (it’s fine, just not that exciting), but I really like it for baking. It has a very deep, straightforward chocolate flavor without a lot of acidity (high acidity is why I don’t care for Lindt or Valrhona for baking/cooking) or fruity flavors. I don’t mind those flavors in chocolate for eating straight but I generally find them odd in baked goods.

I feel Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate has a cleaner flavor than the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72%, even though it’s a lower percentage chocolate.

My favorite baking chocolates are the cut up Callebaut baking chocolate blocks I find at Whole Foods around the holidays. (Similar to what @sck mentioned above about a grocery store cutting up Guittard slabs into smaller chunks.) For this reason, I don’t believe the rumor that TJ’s Pound Plus are Callebaut, unless it’s a different formulation Callebaut produces just for TJ’s.

Well huh. Never occurred to me to buy the dark chocolate one. I certainly don’t do a lot of baking but there’s usually that 72% in my freezer

FYI the semisweet chocolate chips at TJs are actually vegan if you ever need a vegan chocolate- they’re delicious, i never would have guessed

Looking at the ingredients of the 72% and Dark Chocolate Pound Plus bars I have in my pantry, I don’t see anything un-vegan listed there. Am I missing something obvious?

BTW, the 72% has cocoa powder (!) as an ingredient. Don’t know how I missed it before, but something about that doesn’t sit right with me. They should be using cocoa solids, not powder, in a chocolate bar.

Interesting. I will have to give this one a go. I also noticed that Restaurant Depot carries the big Callebaut slabs at a GREAT price - I’ll probably grab one eventually and see if I can detect significant differences from the Pound Plus.

Oh maybe they are vegan, i didn’t double check the label. I think you just solved the mystery with the cocoa! I’ll be sure to get the dark chocolate for my next baking project- there’s a friend birthday on the horizon and she probably needs home baked goodies :slight_smile:

Not missing anything obvious, chocolate doesn’t contain milk unless added. Dove used to add milk fat to dark chocolate, but most producers don’t. If you’re cooking for someone with an allergy or intolerance, definitely read labels, but most dark chocolate is just cacao and sugar with a little vanilla and soy lecithin.

Cocoa powder is just cocoa liquor with most of the fat (cocoa butter) squeezed out. So that 72% bar might be a little thicker & more viscous when melted, or more intense due to lower fat, but cocoa powder IS cocoa solids so I don’t see any problem there. The raw beans are about 50% fat. Cocoa butter is removed during processing to sell to the cosmetics industry or use in white chocolate. Eating chocolate is usually around 30% fat, while cocoa powder has 10-15%.

There are some applications, like ice cream, where you want less cocoa butter. Not everything has to be couverture (30% fat or more).

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold