Let’s Talk Couverture Chocolate!
Melting Minutes Chocolate Academy - Lesson 2
Let me start off by telling you that working with chocolate is hard, messy work. Picture this all over your countertops and every utensil and tool in the general area. It’s the most delicious mess you will ever see!
The Melting Minutes Chocolate Academy series is a great place to start if you’re new to tempering chocolate. Your reward will be delicious homemade chocolate candy made by YOU!
But, you wouldn’t want to invest all that time and energy to retemper inferior chocolate, would you? So it’s important to select a quality chocolate but it’s equally important to select couverture chocolate if you plan on tempering it for molds, etc.
Why Couverture Chocolate?
Couverture means “covering” in French and it will get you the right viscosity and smoothness to get a few things you need:
- Workable fluidity that perfectly coats your molds
- Chocolate that shines
- A nice snap once the tempered chocolate hardens
- A superior taste
So what sets couverture chocolate apart from the rest? It contains somewhere between 32-39% cocoa butter. This is what makes your chocolate perform. It also is smoother and richer.
Sadly, mainstream chocolate manufacturers are replacing cocoa butter with vegetable oil. This article explains how the FDA has forced them to refer to their product as something other than milk chocolate. So if the package says “chocolate candy,” you’ll know you are not eating the real thing.
If you’re learning to temper, I recommend starting with dark chocolate. It can be heated to higher temperatures without scorching and it will be much easier to tell whether or not the tempering process was successful. Milk and white chocolate tend to be softer due to the higher milk solid content. Whereas dark chocolate has a pronounced snap and shine when tempered correctly. It’s also more delicious in my humble opinion.
An Example of What I Use
There are many good choices out there, but I have had good success with Callebaut chocolate. I also think it’s a good chocolate for beginners because the melting temperatures are fairly straightforward. The con of this brand is it is a bit pricy, although the quality is worth every penny.
Something to keep in mind, as long as you don’t burn your chocolate or get water in it, you can retemper it several times. So if you decide to go with a higher quality chocolate, you can still master your tempering skills without worry of having to throw away any chocolate. (Just don’t seize or scorch it.)
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to stick with Callebaut in my examples of what to shop for. This should give you a good baseline of the general percentages of cocoa solids and cocoa butter to look for in whatever brand of couverture chocolate you decide on. (Callebaut is getting some free advertisement here!) I don’t want you to be afraid to stray from this list though. My hope is that your confidence will increase as you check out the vast selection of chocolate because you’ll know what characteristics you need.
For dark chocolate, I like to use Callebaut – Recipe 811NV Dark Callets. This chocolate has 54.5% cocoa solids and 36.6% cocoa butter. I could eat fistfuls of this Belgium goodness straight out of the bag! It’s sure to please a wide audience of chocolate lovers.
For milk chocolate, Callebaut – Recipe 823 Milk Callets is a nice choice. It has a smooth taste with a hint of caramel. It’s well balanced with 33.6% milk solids and 36.2% cocoa butter.
Callebaut – W2NV White Callets is another all around couverture. It has a creamy and smooth taste that makes it special, but it is balanced enough to please all pallets. This white chocolate contains 28% cocoa solids and 34.3% cocoa butter.
What These Have in Common
My dark, milk and white chocolate picks all have something in common. They each have three drops on the Callebaut’s standard fluidity scale, as shown below. For an all around multi-use chocolate, I stick with three drops so I can use it for a wide range of projects such as ganache, hand dipped truffles, chocolate covered strawberries, and molding.
What exactly do the standard fluidity drops mean? The fewer the drops, the more viscous the melted consistency will be…so five drops would have a very thin, runny consistency. Check out the back of my bag below. Three drops can be used for all applications.
I love working with Callebaut because of it’s high quality and because it is novice friendly. It’s a good one to try if you don’t know where to start.
I usually have to buy couverture chocolate online, which means paying more for fast shipping and cold packs. It also means stocking up in spring to get me through the warmest months when shipping is riskier. If you want to avoid shipping, try Trader Joes. They have a great tasting dark chocolate that’s inexpensive ($1.79 for three bars).
If you have a favorite chocolate you enjoy working with, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.
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