Posted by: njbrown | November 3, 2009

More about Chocolate

November 3, 2009

My sister, Marilyn, decided to help me find really good chocolate, and being an internet whiz, found this seductive description of Valrhona Manjari chocolate:

From ChefShop.comValrhona Grand Cru Manjari is an extraordinary bittersweet couverture chocolate made from a blend of the best Trinitarios cocoa beans from Madagascar. With a 64% cocoa content, Valrhona’s Manjari is perfect for the bittersweet chocolate needs for home pastry chefs and professionals alike – it is the perfect compromise between the ultra dark bittersweet chocolate couvertures with 70% cocoa content and the often too sweet dark chocolate couvertures with less than 60% cocoa content. Manjari also has a higher than typical amount of cocoa butter to give your desserts and truffles a silky mouth finish. With the sweetness of the tropics, Manjari has an intense chocolate taste, sustained fullness with hints of dried fruit and grilled almonds with a woody base. It is suitable for pastry, chocolate fillings, molding, enrobing, and icing. The Valrhona “feves” are small oval disks that are easier to work with than large industrial size block. Valrhona in Tain l’Hermitage is considered by most pastry chefs and chocolatiers as the premier chocolate company in the world. Their focus is solely on their chocolate, and to ensure the highest quality, and optimum flavor, they grow their own cocoa beans, their own cane sugar, and their own vanilla on plantations all around the world – now that’s quality control. Valrhona has finally begun to offer its professional products, cocoa and couvertures, packaged for the home pastry enthusiast, a palette of subtle flavors, to create and elaborate delicious chocolate preparations. Manjari is a couverture with 64% cocoa content (with 35% Sugar and 40.5% cocoa butter). It is a blend of Criollo and Trinitario cocoa beans from Madagascar. It has a characteristic, fresh, slightly acid chocolate taste, with intense hints of red fruits, and it would be perfect in most pastry applications calling for bittersweet couverture. It is especially good for fillings, and for pouring, dipping, and molding. You cannot go wrong here.

I know that Martha and Ina like Valrhona, but I have never had it.  I’ve now looked for places in our area where I can buy it, and will go on the hunt next weekend.  One review compared it with Callebaut – my favorite – and preferred the Callebaut.  The Valrhona Web site has a wheel comparing major characteristics of their chocolates, and gives instructions on how to taste chocolate – sort of Chocolate for Dummies.  Perhaps with this, I can progress beyond the uneducated reactions that have gotten me through most of sixty-six years of loving chocolate.As a child, a Hersey’s milk chocolate bar was the biggest treat I could have.  The small squares were eaten one-by-one to make it last longer.  I eventually progressed to Hersey’s with almonds, and liked those even more.  For years at Christmas, my mother’s family sent a Whitman’s Sampler – the ultimate chocolate in my very limited experience.  A few years ago, I bought a Sampler, and was amazed that the chocolate was not what I remembered (to put it diplomatically).  As time went on, I found Belgian, Dutch, Swiss, Italian and Canadian chocolates.  A few months ago, I received a box of Ukrainian chocolates as a gift.  One of the benefits of having had cancer was finding that dark chocolate is “medicinal” (my term) due to the high amount of antioxidants.  It was not a hard transition from milk chocolate to dark, and I now feel virtuous rather than guilty for having it.

Some time ago, scientists announced that we love chocolate because it gives us the same feeling as being in love.  I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, but as Jacques Torres says, “Everyone loves chocolate.”

Many years ago, my husband’s great-aunt – a truly amazing lady -was traveling in Europe and became quite ill with a travel bug.  She decided what she needed to fix her up was hot chocolate.  She ordered it from room service, and improved rapidly.  As she was dying, the one thing she ate was Godiva truffles.  A woman after my own heart…



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