Friday, January 28, 2011

Looking for fine chocolate for home baking? High quality chocolate chips are not easy to find, but worth the search.

Let's talk about chocolate chips today.  I had not used a lot of them in the past because the grocery store brands are filled with artificial flavouring and too sugary sweet.  And sometimes the no name brands are altogether not made of chocolate (watch out for some of the chocolate chips at bulk food stores, be sure you are buying real chocolate! i.e. real chocolate is made with real cocoa butter, not oil).  So I am always on the lookout for high quality chocolate chips at a decent price.  In my business, I normally use Camino organic chocolate chips because they have a high percentage of cocoa content, are organic and Fair Trade focused, and are all natural.

However, when I was at Homesense before Christmas, I found a brand of chocolate chips I had not yet come across: Guittard Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, in a 340 g (12 oz) package. These are made with real vanilla, and although they are not certified organic, they are all natural, made with only five ingredients (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soya lecithin and real vanilla).  According to the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, these ingredients make up `fine chocolate`, so these chocolate chips can be put into that category.

As for taste, they are smooth, sugary sweet like most chocolate chips are, and just taste like a normal chocolate chip.  How do they hold up to the commercial grocery store brand? I tried some Chipits "pure" semi-sweet chocolate chips just  after I tasted a Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chip, and the Chipits was less smooth, almost grittier and super sweet. And of course, what's in the Chipits chocolate? Sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk ingredients, soy lecithin and artificial flavour. Milk ingredients are not a problem, only that they are not needed in a semi-sweet chocolate chip, so why the heck are they there?

Guittard also makes a milk chocolate chip in a 326 g (11.5 oz) package.  What they don't say on the packaging though is that they are jumbo-sized chocolate chips. They are about two- to three-times bigger than the Guittard semi-sweet chips.  Overall, these are very tasty.  They somehow taste like a Hershey's kiss, but have better ingredients and are all natural (ingredients include: sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, soya lecithin and real vanilla). I have already used them in baking and I think these are fantastic. 

So if you are looking to use fine chocolate in your baking, instead of the grocery store brand, I recommend that you try Guittard chocolate chips. In Canada, I bought mine at Homesense, but you can also order online!

If you are looking for an organic brand, check out the Camino products.

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