I am unabashedly in love with chocolate, unapologetic about my feelings and thoughts toward it and unheeding in my consumption. Perhaps I fit the cliche of a woman for this reason, but I care not. I love the stuff. Over the past few years my taste buds grew and changed and no longer could I palate the taste of standard milk chocolate. Bubbly aero bars which were once irresitable became a turn-off. Until I saw that they had a dark chocolate version. It’s still not that great, but dark chocolate is. As my tastes literally change, my sweet tooth subsides to reveal a love of the slightly bitter.
A few years ago my parents did a tour of Europe. My mom asked me what I wanted from there and I couldn’t think of anything. Morever, what could they bring that wouldn’t over burden the suitcases they would be taking through 16 different cities in a mere three weeks? I soon realized the answer was chocolate. I asked them to bring back chocolate from every country they visited.
And the spoils came: Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, England, Austria and France. They were different types, sizes and price ranges but they had one thing in common: they were all vastly superior to North American ‘chocolate’.
My god, the europeans know their chocolate. For the record, German chocolate remains my favourite. The home of the black forest cake has got to know a thing or two. France may have tied that with something my mom picked up randomly:
I recognized the name from friends who bake. It was also mentioned in the book Confetti Cakes as the best quality cocoa money could buy. The chocolate was delicious. It was dark and slightly bitter, but still had some sweetness. I only ate a square at a time because I found it so perfectly rich. I enjoyed the packaging as well – it just looks so French and sophisticated!
I recently ran out of my standard cocoa powder and decided to use this opportunity to buy the good stuff: Valrhona cocoa. I found it at the St. Lawrence market.
I paid $15.99 for that box. Yikes!
I decided to make a dense and rich brownie with my new, expensive cocoa. I don’t have a go-to recipe so I browsed through my collection and randomly picked Alton Brown’s from this book: I’m Just Here For More Food X Mixing + Heat = Baking. Despite having this book for over a year, I’ve made nothing from it. I do refer to it from time to time just to understand the science of baking better.
The Valrhona cocoa smelled amazing as soon as I opened the packet. I have a weak sense of smell but the aroma still struck me. I can’t describe it really well, but it was heady, and smelled rich and more chocolatey than other cocoas.
The brownies turned out pretty danged great
They definitely have the taste of a “dark chocolate” brownie, if such a thing exists.
I submit to you that ‘dark chocolate’ is just regular chocolate; regular chocolate with the most cocoa. The less cocoa and the more milk you add, the lighter the chocolate gets. Bittersweet, semi-sweet, and milk are all mixes of different proportions of milk and cocoa; and then there is the aberration known as white chocolate, which is not chocolate as it contains no cocoa. Also, it is gross.
As if baking wasn’t expensive enough, I now think I always want to bake with Valrhona. It’s definitely worth it. Another fun thing about this baking project was using my new Cuisinart food processor. Alton Brown recommends sifting dry ingredients together by pulsing in a food processor as opposed to using a sifter or just hand mixing.
I wonder if that contributed to the excellence of these brownies. Either way, I’m pleased with the result and had fun creating them too!