We tasted some chocolate

I’ll have a writeup on Emily Luchetti’s “Ricotta Cheesecake with golden raisins and tart cherries” later this long weekend. In the mean time, I’ve written up the results of a chocolate tasting from Monday. Here’s my conclusion:

This was a difficult contest to judge, and (counting ties) six different products received a first-place vote. The overall winner, with two first-place votes, two second-place votes, and one third-place vote, was TCHO 66% dark chocolate discs. In second, with one first-place vote and three second-place votes was Valrhona Caraibe 66% feves. Third went to the Guittard 66% dark chocolate discs, with one first-place vote and two second-place votes, followed by the same company’s 38% milk chocolate discs, which received two first-place votes, in fourth place. Rounding out the results, Valrhona Guanaja feves came in 5th, Guittard 74% discs came in 6th, the two Madécasse discs tied for 7th, and the non-chocolate “dark melting discs” from Ghirardelli came in dead last.

You can read excerpts of the tasters’ individual comments on our wiki.

My overall conclusion is that the tasting conditions were less than ideal, because these products (with one or two exceptions) aren’t really made to be eaten out of hand, they are intended to be melted and used either as a flavoring ingredient (as in brownies or ganache) or directly as a glaze to be applied to some other food. If I had a test kitchen of my own, full of trained cooks all ready and eager to do my bidding, I would take one standard recipe for chocolate brownies and one for truffles, and have the staff make both, varying only the chocolate, and then taste the results. (That would imply leaving out my two “ringers”.) Alice Medrich thoughtfully provides the appropriate recipe adjustments for most of this range of chocolates in her book Seriously Bitter Sweet.

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