I am trying to find a gourmet dark cocoa to make the rolled chocolate cookies. I had found some at World Market but they don't carry it any more. I am presently using the Hershey's Special Dark but I am looking for a higher quality cocoa. Does anyone know where I can find this?
Your best bet is to try either Droste (Dutched) or Scharffen Berger (natural). I've gotten both through Wegman's and occasionally Whole Foods, but online is probably the most reliable place to get them. I also like Trader Joe's (natural). Ghiardelli also makes a cocoa (I think Dutched but not sure).
Cocoa is either natural or Dutched (processed with alkalai), but is otherwise 100% cocoa. Dutched cocoa tends to be darker in color and slightly less acidic than natural cocoa, but the Dutching process can actually take away some of the chocolate taste. For more info regarding Dutch vs. natural, see http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-589342-cocoa.html
The Hershey's Special Dark is actually a blend of natural and Dutched, but is still 100% cocoa. Regular Hershey's is natural, so the addition of the Dutched cocoa into the Special Dark gives it the darker color.
What makes dark bar chocolate "dark" is a higher percentage of cocoa. For example, milk chocolate is around 35% cocoa; you can buy premium dark chocolates at anywhere from 56% all the way up to 99% (unsweetened - the 1% is cocoa butter). Since cocoa powder is 100% cocoa, technically it's all "dark".
But like most things, quality does vary, and what is "best" is ultimately going to be a matter of personal taste.
Hope that helps
Thanks for the info, HB. Do you have preferences for cocoa or chocolate brands for baking?
I'm a new connoisseur (is that an oxymoron?) to eating chocolate, but I'd like to learn more about cocoa and chocolate for baking. I recommend the 70%+ website for reviews and information, too. I don't have the URL but if you Google chocolate 70%+, it'll come up.
I a big fan of Lindt and Scharffen Berger chocolate for eating, but I still use regular Hershey's cocoa for baking. I tried the Special Dark cocoa, and for some reason, really didn't like the flavor, so I switched back to regular Hershey's. Maybe it's the Dutch-processing I don't like?
Double post. (Actually triple, see below.)
Fudge! Why do I always get these stutters on my postings?
For bar chocolate:
My favorite for "regular" baking is Trader Joe's Pounder Plus bars, which are made by Callabaut. Very good quality for $4 for an 18 ounce bar. I get both the dark (72%) and the bittersweet (65%), and use them somewhat interchangably. I chop it up for chocolate chips, use it to dip berries and other goodies, or for whatever else I'd use chocolate for.
I really love Valrhona, but it's about 4 times as expensive as TJ's. I like the 56% for eating (it's REALLY fruity), and the 72% for making into "stuff". It's more of a "special occasion" chocolate because of the price. Scharffen Berger is also really good, and Lindt is decent.
I haven't really settled on a favorite cocoa yet - I rarely bake something that only uses cocoa (as opposed to some combination of cocoa and chocolate), so it becomes a little more difficult to really isolate the flavor. I like Droste, Scharffen Berger, Trader Joe's. I'd like to try Valrhona and a couple others if I can get my hands on them
If you're REALLY getting into chocolate, I would recommend investing in the book Bittersweet by Alice Medrich. It's crazy in depth about what kinds of chocolate use what. Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow is great too.
I really like Callebaut, I have bought it online in the past at chocolatesource.com. The interesting thing is, although it of course is more $$ than Hershey's, it's not THAT much more. http://www.chocolatesource.com/products/detail.asp?selection=529§ion=10 this is $25 for a 2.2lb bag. With shipping it comes to 86c an ounce. An 8oz container of Hershey's at my supermarket is $4.64 (incl. tax) so 58c an ounce. For 30c an ounce more, the taste is worth it! I sooo prefer it over Hershey's, I couldn't believe the taste difference the first time I used it, I thought I'd died and gone to chocolate heaven.
BTW 2.2lb might sound like a ton if you don't bake a lot but you will eventually use it up if you're a chocoholic like me.
I now get my Callebaut at Surfas locally. They have a website surfasonline.com but I haven't looked to see if they carry the cocoa there. They also carry Callebaut chocolate chips in various %'s but again, I don't know if they sell online. Chocolatesource.com has tons of options too, that site make my head spin!
I agree with HerBoudoir, I love Valrhona but oh, the price! I may be the only person who doesn't like the Scharffen-Berger bars though, I thought they tasted waxy and they are more than Valrhona!
Hope this helps!