Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My New Favorite Chocolate Bar: Scharffen Berger Extra Dark 82%

Like almost everyone, I love chocolate, and always have. I used to eat Hershey milk chocolate bars as a child, and while my taste may have become more sophisticated, those early memories persist.

In the last 15 years or so, I have spent a lot of time in Paris and experienced some of the world's best chocolates, but I still love eating it in bar form. Although it is neither the fanciest nor the most expensive, I am partial to Lindt, from Switzerland, and particularly their Excellence series, which combines dark chocolate with various elements: sesame seeds, mint, caramel, fleur de sel, orange, chili peppers, etc.

Nowadays, many chocolates proclaim the percentage of cacao contained within. In general I find that bars above 72% lack the creaminess that I like. I use Ghirardelli 60% or Callebaut bittersweet for baking and various 70-72% choices for eating.
As to brands, I have not found one that is perfect across the range of strengths and flavors. Of course Valhrona, Cluizel and Bonnat, but I have to say they don't beat my go-to Lindt. I have never been overly enamored with American brands, except, as noted for Ghiradelli for baking applications. In partiular I never loved Sharffen Berger, until now.

David Lebovitz, in his The Great Book of Chocolate,

writes a lot about Scharffen Berger, the first American bean-to-bar gourmet chocolate (now there are others, such as Mast Brothers), so I thought I'd try it again. I went for the Extra Dark 82% and had a revelation: all the complexity found in a well-made bitter bar with a great mouth feel that lasts and lasts and lasts.

(Available at gourmet stores and through the Scharffen Berger web site.)

Go for it!

Bobby Jay

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