I've never been much of a pastry chef, but I'm making a Thanksgiving dessert that calls for bittersweet chocolate. Locally, I can source Valhrona or Callebaut unsweetened, but not bittersweet. Two questions: Which of those two brands is better, and how much sugar do I need to add to get to the bittersweet (or even semi-sweet) stage? Thanks! (Oh, and can I make curry with that?)

  • Posted by: Kayb
  • November 19, 2010
  • 1072 views
  • 5 Comments

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jenahearn
jenahearn November 19, 2010

I'm no professional, and I couldn't say which is better between the two having never used them; if their other products are any indication, I'd personally give the nod to Valhrona but not by much.
The conversion might be a little tricky to do, but bear in mind that most companies' bittersweet chocolate is about 60-70% cacao, w/ the rest being mostly sugar. Since you're starting w/ 100% cacao, I'd go with around 1/3 sugar by weight to split the difference. So, if, for example, your recipe calls for 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, I'd cut back to, say, 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, then add 1 oz. sugar. If you can't weigh your sugar, I'd estimate that's about 1 1/4 tbsp. (7 oz. sugar = 8 tbsp (aka 1 cup)). [Semi-sweet is even more sugar, FYI.]
And I've never used unsweetened choc. in curry, but I have used it in mole and chili and it works like a charm, so I'd say why not!

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hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour November 19, 2010

Cooks Illustrated did a taste test of dark chocolate and gave the Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate (60% cocoa) the nod as the best. The next in line was the Ghiradelli Bittersweet Baking bar (60% cocoa). The 3 other recommended ones were: Dagoba organic semisweet, Michel Cluizel Noir de Cocoa, and Valhrona le Noir.

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Soozll
Soozll November 19, 2010

I've used Lindt 70% from their Intense Dark Chocolate candybar line for many desserts, frostings and sauces. It has very good flavor, snaps (from good tempering) when you break it, melts very nicely, and is very smooth with good sheen.

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betteirene
betteirene November 20, 2010

Nestle says that 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate is equal to 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar added with the rest of the sugar in you recipe. (Bittersweet chocolate has had cocoa butter added to it, where unsweetened chocolate has almost none, which is why you don't substitute one for the other ounce for ounce.)

Both brands of chocolate are very, very good, and it would be very hard for me to pick which one is better. But there's also Ghiradelli and Guittard, which are not only widely available, they're less expensive, and they're very, very good too. I've used them all and like them all.

Chocolate curry. . .hmmmm. I'm not sure about that, but my mum thinks chocolate vindaloo might be possible.

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innoabrd
innoabrd November 21, 2010

Would be a shame to do without that delicious cocoa butter, which, historically, is actually the most expensive part of chocolate! I can't believe that if you can get those fancy brands of unsweetened that bittersweet isn't available. Have you looked at sweets suppliers, or that section of your grocery store, rather than the baking section? Lindt is generally quite easy to come by and has a range of intensities. Basically, you're just looking for a very dark, high solids chocolate bar. I think the standard for 'bittersweet' is 35%, but I'd be more inclined to use 60-80%, depending on the recipe. The higher the percentage, the more apt to seize, I think.

As for the curry, I'd suggest using marshmallows instead of jello with the chocolate. Hot chocolate-based sauce and gelatin do some weird things when combined with the copious quantities of beer required by curry-consuming Britons...

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