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Dark or bittersweet chocolate recommendation please.
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Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
Re: Re: Dark or bittersweet chocolate recommendation please. on 10/21/2013 16:00:45 MDT Print View

Another big fan of Trader Joe's chocolate selection here. Tastewise, I'm also pretty happy with Theo or Green and Black's. Endangered Species also has some good flavors. Oh, and Valrhona. Who am I kidding - if it's above 70% cocoa and on sale, I'll buy it.

re melting: I took a bar of Trader Joe's Chocolate Lover's 85% on my last trip. It melted in the bear can while I was hiking. Once it cooled at night it was a weird gritty/chalky texture. I still ate it, of course, but would urge caution with the melting-recooling method suggested.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Choc Hunter on 10/21/2013 17:01:30 MDT Print View

> fact the two on the top of my list are Trader Joe's Chocolate Lover's 85% (has a nice fruity bouquet) at $1.49 and Safeway Select 78% (just the right amount of sugar) at $2.69. .... Yes I have bought every bar at PCC, Whole Foods, World Market, QFC, Trader Joes, Freddy's, Safeway, Amazon and the specialty shops. I was trying to find the very best tasting bar.

Awesome, thanks for the recommendations. Good to get the results of a dedicated chocolate hunter.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
RE: dark chocolate on 10/21/2013 17:37:06 MDT Print View

I just love how a thread on dark chocolate can go 2 pages :-)
Agree with others, the higher the cacao, the less melt prone.
@Ike, Love Chocolove w/almonds and seasalt!! Only 55% cocoa, but still one of my favorites! Green & Blacks also good and can be found almost anywhere. Sharffen berger very good too! I love the dark chocolates with cayenne. Also love to put a pinch of it in hot cocoa.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Dark German chocolate on 10/21/2013 23:49:14 MDT Print View

My mother-in-law sends me care packages of dark German chocolate straight from Germany.. I can no longer eat Hershey's. ;)

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Hershey's on 10/22/2013 09:17:22 MDT Print View

Hey, even without the German chocolate comparison, Hershey's is only marginally edible. Even my 9-year-old daughter complains if I give her a Hershey's, asking "where's the DARK chocolate, did you eat it?"


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Choc Hunter on 10/22/2013 09:24:15 MDT Print View

Taza makes some mighty fine chocolates. I buy them at my local organic grocer.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Choc Hunter on 10/22/2013 10:32:38 MDT Print View

"You're right...what I thought was a Prius dealership in town, upon closer inspection, is in fact a Trader Joe's." "Free range tofu" etc etc

Now that's funny!

For an overnighter, you could freeze the bar to get more mileage out of it. If it does melt, you can put it in a zip lock and soak in the creek. As mentioned above, it'll be a bit chalky


The only reason I survived my move from Germany back to the U.S. is because of the microbrew explosion of the '90s. I'm envious that you have a German connection for chocolate.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 10/22/2013 10:33:11 MDT.

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/22/2013 18:18:30 MDT Print View

Tempering dark chocolate can increase the temp at which it melts to ~90-95F. Non tempered dark chocolate will start to melt 75.

Tempering changes the crystalline structure of the solidified fat solids. The new/improved crystal structure (post temper) has the silky smooth texture good darks are known for and has a higher melting temp.

This is similar to the process for heat treating metals to obtain desirable material properties.

Most dark chocolate will be already tempered. Exposing tempered chocolate to temps near melting point will begin to reverse the temper allowing the poor crystalline structure to return. Chocolate that has lost its temper is said to have "bloomed". This results in the powdery texture and color. This can be fixed be redoing the temper.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Dark Chocolate on 10/22/2013 18:38:11 MDT Print View

Anyway, an author on surviving a forced landing pointed out that if you keep a few Snickers bars in your plane, you'll eat them as a snack and not have them when you really need them. He suggested dog biscuits. They last forever, have no water weight, no special storage requirements and are made with mostly food-grade stuff. Cheap, too. And you won't eat them until you really need to.

Ha! I received similar advice from a community ed. course on backpacking a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Teacher advocated bringing emergency rations on any trek where you'd be more than couple days from help. His suggestion was dried dog food ... for the same reasons David noted. His personal preference was Gravy Train brand.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/22/2013 19:40:28 MDT Print View

The tempering process is also a bit delicate; you'll want to obtain a good quality thermometer as you're learning.

Short version: heat high enough to obliterate the existing crystal structure (say 120F), cool down to about 80F and optionally "seed" with an existing chunk of tempered chocolate while stirring, finally raise to about 89 for dipping/pouring. (If it gets to 91 you get to start over!)

My dad dug up an old family recipe for chocolates some years back, and has been practicing candy-making since then. For this post I Googled some of the numbers though.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/22/2013 19:44:54 MDT Print View

so, is there any value to prevent melting in warm weather?

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/22/2013 21:20:02 MDT Print View

If you buy new dark chocolate, then I don't think tempering will improve it any as it is already tempered. And likely better than you'd be able to do at home.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Re: Re: Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/23/2013 09:47:55 MDT Print View

+1 with James -- what you buy in the stores is already tempered, and trying to re-temper it is an exercise in futility (plus you risk ruining it if your technique is bad!).

Jerry, to answer your question -- no, there is no value to re-tempering ready-to-eat chocolate.

Back to the OP's original thread question -- if it's really hot out, don't bring chocolate, or bake it into cookies where the melting won't be as nasty, or double/triple bag it and pack it into your sleeping bag.

In any case, as already stated, the higher ratio cocoa solids:cocoa butter bars will be more resistant to melting, and also less sweet (which the OP prefers).

Personally, since I live in the scorching-hot desert, I only bring chocolate in the winter.

Delmar -- not sure if you like shortbread cookies, but I have successfully made dark chocolate-stuffed shortbread. Not too sweet (very buttery), and the cookie outside protects the chocolate inside. Extremely rich, but you're backpacking, right? ;~)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Tempering Dark Chocolate on 10/23/2013 10:06:19 MDT Print View

I didn't mean to disrespectfully doubt you, Valerie, maybe there's some obscure benefit even if the melting temperature is the same or whatever

And maybe it would stimulate someone to say something interesting

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
No Worries... on 10/23/2013 10:18:48 MDT Print View

Jerry -- no worries, man - I didn't take your question as disrespectful! :~) More than one source is good!

But James was on-point when he noted that the chocolate you buy in stores is already factory-tempered (better than we'd do at home). I doubt anyone here is buying untempered bulk chocolate in blocks for eating.

In any case, the whole tempering process would only change the melting point of chocolate by a degree or two; i.e., not enough to make a significant difference when backpacking... which, I think, was the purpose of the OP's thread.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: No Worries... on 10/23/2013 10:48:54 MDT Print View

okay, I had to wikipedia it

there are 6 crystal types of chocolate with different melting temperatures:

I 17 °C (63 °F)
II 21 °C (70 °F)
III 26 °C (79 °F)
IV 28 °C (82 °F)
V 34 °C (93 °F)
VI 36 °C (97 °F)

You want type V for deserts. Tempering makes it type V. First you heat to 113 F to completely melt, then cool to 81 F which allows type IV and V to form. Then heat it to 88F to melt the type IV. Then let just type V crystalize.

I see what you mean, too complicated, just buy it already tempered.

If you could create type VI, then you'de be a bit better at not melting. They said it's hard and takes weeks to form. Maybe "hard" makes it unpleasant to eat? Heat it to 113 F, then cool to 95 F and let if sit at that temperature for weeks to crystalize. Maybe that's what tropical chocalate is?

Now, how does percent cacao fit into this? Tempering must just be for the cocao butter. I wonder what having cacao in the mix does? Does it affect the melting temperature of the cocoa butter?

hmmm... maybe too much analysis : )

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
LOL, Too Much Analysis is Right! on 10/23/2013 13:06:13 MDT Print View

LOL, Too Much Analysis is Right!

The fancy chocolate bars of eating chocolate are tempered and made to melt in the 90sF.

Above all, we eat chocolate for pleasure, and one of the most pleasurable things about it is that chocolate melts easily in the mouth, sending a slow stream of yumminess to your tastebuds. (And if any of you aren't eating chocolate for the joy of it, I don't want to know!)

Even if you could make a chocolate that melted at 130F, it would be a lousy eating experience, because it wouldn't melt in your mouth!

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Chocolate on 10/25/2013 23:49:28 MDT Print View

Valerie -- yes, I'd be very interested to hear how you make chocolate-in-shortbread cookies.

(Gollum voice:) And no, we don't eat chocolate so it melts in our mouthes, we stores it in the freezer so it crunches between our teethses!

Is there anything better than frozen dark chocolate? I can't think of any. But I'll make do with soft chocolate on the trail, if I must. Is it OK to admit I like a waxy chocolate?

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Chocolate-Filled Shortbread Cookies on 10/26/2013 10:44:23 MDT Print View

I first had these at a bakery in my native Montreal...extremely delicious, inordinately rich, and fattening beyond all reason. In other words, pretty good for backpacking! ;~)

Make your favourite shortbread cookie dough (the kind that you roll out, not a "drop cookie" version). I like the ones with some cornstarch added for a finer crumb, like this one:

Roll the dough out fairly thinly (+/- 1/4"), and cut into rectangles large enough to fit a nice piece of chocolate on half of each rectangle, with some room around the edges. [Tip: working with cold dough will be much easier, so you may have to put it in the fridge periodically if it gets too warm.]

Cut pieces of dark chocolate (from a chocolate bar, so it's thin enough to fit inside the cookie) - slightly smaller than half your dough rectangle.

Place a piece of chocolate on half of each piece of dough, and carefully fold the dough over and press the edges to seal in the chocolate.

Bake according to the recipe directions. Then -- hah! -- try to taste just one of them, while keeping your paws off the rest until you go backpacking.

And it's TOTALLY ok (with me, anyway) to admit that you like ANY kind of chocolate!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Chocolate-Filled Shortbread Cookies on 10/26/2013 12:13:17 MDT Print View

"Cut pieces of dark chocolate (from a chocolate bar, so it's thin enough to fit inside the cookie) - slightly smaller than half your dough rectangle."

I wonder if dark chocolate chips would work?