Saturday, February 21, 2015

Take your chocolate creations to a darker place with Belcolade Uganda 80%

Couverture chocolate is used by all chocolatiers to make beautiful confections, chocolate bars and chocolaty treats.  It has a slightly higher cocoa butter content, which gives a nice shine and makes the chocolate easier to work with when enrobing fruit, nuts and other foods. Couverture is widely sold and fairly easy to find, once you go looking for it.

What is rare though, is to find a couverture chocolate with 80% cocoa solids in Canada, or in North America for that matter.  I have been searching lately for a bulk chocolate in the 80% range and have only come across one in Canada: Belcolade 'Noir Collection Uganda 80%'.  I found this 80% dark chocolate couverture through Chocolat Chocolat in Montreal, and I was able to order it online and have it shipped to me in Northern Ontario. There are a few others available on other continents (see below for a list).

When you first open the bag, there is an aroma of real (not artificial) vanilla.  The texture is very smooth, as Belcolade's always is. And for the flavour, it is a nice straight-up chocolaty flavour that is just a little earthy, but also, in my opinion, fairly neutral with no overpowering regional flavours (although Belcolade's website says it has a 'gorgeous taste of hummus and mushrooms').  It is definitely not too bitter, and lacks acidity compared to a lot of 80% or higher dark chocolates, which can be very acidic.

After working with this chocolate, I found that it tempered easily and was quite nice to work with.  I used it in my Salted Dark Chocolate Pecan Bark recipe (simply replace the 70% dark chocolate in the recipe with the 80%) and found that it tasted delicious, pairing surprisingly well with salt. Very dark chocolates (over 70%) can often taste too bitter when paired with salt, which is why you'll see Lindt and other large brands use a dark chocolate closer to 50% when making a salt-and-chocolate creation. However, I found this 80% so smooth with just the right amount of cocoa butter to be perfect for a sweet-and-savoury pairing.

So if you are in the chocolate business, and you intend to go darker this year to serve Paleo-friendly clients or diabetics who like a little dark chocolate, or if you just want to make healthier chocolate creations at home, Belcolade's Uganda 80% is worth a try. Also, there is no soy lecithin in this chocolate, so everyone really can enjoy it.

As for price, it was comparatively reasonable for couverture. I paid about $17 CAD for 1 kilogram of Belcolade's Uganda 80% dark chocolate. I pay about $18+ per kilo for other brands of organic dark chocolate couverture, so given that this is not organic, it is reasonable.

Here are the package details from the chocolate that I reviewed today:

Belcolade 'Noir Collection' Uganda 80, min. cocoa solids 80,0%, 1kg
Belcolade NW (Belgium)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, flavouring: vanilla.

Other 80% dark chocolate couvertures available across the world:

  • Amsterdam-based Original Beans makes an organic 80% dark chocolate couverture made from "the world's rarest cacao" (ref). Check them out online a here.
  • Mesocacao also makes one. Click here to learn more.
  • Austrian Zotter Chocolate  also offers an 80% couverture available on the UK-based Chocolatiers site. Zotter also has a facility in the U.K. and in Shanghai.

If you know of any 80% or higher chocolate covertures that are not listed above, please let us know in the "Comments" below!

I made some delicious almond clusters with this couverture. 

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