The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Where's the Chocolate?

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MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Where's the Chocolate?

Like that little old lady in the "Where's the beef" ads, I am seeking the lost chocolate in chocolate chips.

We used to use the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Baking chips sold at Sam's Club.  The text on the bag read quite similarly to that on the 60% product advertised on their website, but it did not say 60% anywhere on the bag.  We were happy with these chips, which were shaped like any other chocolate chip but larger in diameter.  For half a year or more we bought several pounds of these chips every month.

A month ago we found that Sam's Club no longer carries the same type of Ghirardelli chips.  They now sell the 60% product as shown on the Ghirardelli website.  These chips are about the same diameter but look more like buttons than traditional chips.  They contain 50% more fat, 2/3 of which is saturated.  They melt in the mouth more easily, seem slightly sweeter, and don't taste as much like chocolate to us.

This month we decided to try the much cheaper Nestle's chocolate chips, and they are awful.  My husband says they taste like caramel to him, and we found that eating them with eyes closed reminds us of eating so-called white chocolate.  They are much too sweet and don't taste like chocolate at all to us.

So where has the chocolate gone?  Is there anyone making chocolate chips that still taste like chocolate?

 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

...your chocolate chips with a new and improved chocolate-chip tasting substance. 

We hope you like!

Yours truly,

Food, Inc.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I just use coarsely chopped chocolate bars. It's a lot more expensive than the bags of chips, so I use less. Those SuperTarget places sell the bars for $2.99.

The chips are what you say they are: not chocolate, not even vaguely close. 

(Also, are you sure the bags of chips were the same as the bars? I always thought the chips tasted like some version of edible plastic. They didn't melt the same as the bars either.)

GrapevineTexas's picture
GrapevineTexas

less bang for the buck, more junk in the trunk!

I'd call for an investigation by the House, but it would only be tied up on the Senate floor.  In the end, we taxpayers would be footing the bill for the whole fiasco.

Oh wait a minute!  That's another ball of wax.  

I digress, but when all is said and done...

I feel your pain.  These chips just ain't tastin' right.  

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Just read the ingredients.  If they are real chocolate they should only contain cocoa butter, chocolate liquor (sometimes called chocolate mass or unsweetened chocolate), sugar, milk ingredient (optional), and soy lecithin.  If it contains hydrogenated anything (cotton seed, or various tropical oils), it should not be called chocolate but the label often say something like chocolately or something that is close enough to chocolate to confuse the casual shopper.

Gerhard

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Those are the ingredients listed in all cases.  The problem with the Nestle's chips is that there is far too much sugar, and apparently practically no chocolate.  I guess they can call it chocolate if there is any chocolate at all in the recipe.  Ironically, it would be false advertising to call these chocolate-flavored chips.  They taste like slightly scorched sugar.  Artificial chocolate flavor might be an improvement.

Honestly, we used to eat the Nestle's chips before we tried the other brand.  The Nestle's chips were not that much worse before, only, as someone commented, a bit waxy.  Now they are much, much worse, and that is compared to a less-good version of the other brand.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

There are minimum standards for cocoa content before you can call it chocolate but like you found out cheaper products will use the minimum amounts of the expensive ingredients (cocoa) and maximum amounts of the cheap ones.   Cocoa bean quality will vary and the refining process has a huge impact on flavour.  The result is various products called pure chocolate all over the price spectrum and huge differences in flavour, texture and quality.  With chocolate you pretty much get what you pay for.  Right now cocoa beans are at record prices so there is a huge incentive to use less cocoa or cocoa beans of lower quality to keep the price low.

Gerhard

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

There is more demand for chocolate than there is original chocolate to go around.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

The price of chocolate is actually artificially high because of a huge amount of beans bought by speculators and withdrawn from the market.  You are right that the price would normally balance demand with supply but there is a group of speculators that feel they can profit by manipulating the supply.  

Gerhard

P.S. here is an article about this problem http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,759471,00.html

cjbnc's picture
cjbnc

Fascinating article, thanks for sharing it. As noted in the last page, fair trade is the way to go with chocolate. Keep your money out of the pockets of the big companies and speculators, and send it to the farmers who do the actual work.

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I guess we are not chocolate chip experts, by any means.  Our favorite chips are those from Aldi's.  They are way better than Nestle's or Hershey's in our opinion.  I doesn't hurt, they are cheaper.  They are all natural with no artificial flavors or colors,  no transfat, and real vanilla.  Just sayin'.  Terry R.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

yes its expensive and yes its maybe not Belgian or Swiss, but hey its at least chocolate, and yes I read the lable, I don't use anything less than semi sweet, or unsweetened, and am very careful about what else I buy that says chocolate!

Good thing I'm not a huge chocolate user, as I still have lots from before, I don't have to worry about it this time around. Sometimes it pays to stock up and be a packrat!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Ghirardelli admits on their website to having reformulated their Bittersweet chips - formerly Double Chocolate, as they say.  My guess is that they kept the total at 60% by increasing the butter and decreasing the solids.  That would be consistent with our impression of the new chips as compared to the old.

Nestle's, on the other hand, seems to have just removed chocolate, leaving their Semi-sweet chips tasting like sugar.  Sugar is even the first listed ingredient.

At my husband's request I tried to reformulate the chips into proper Bittersweet chocolate.  I attempted to melt 12 oz of Semi-sweet chips with 4 oz of Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.  The flavor was great but the consistency was as crumbles for the top of a streudel.  I tried then to add fat to the mixture.  Since the only cocoa butter we have in the house is in some very old suntan lotion, I added 2 0z of coconut oil.  This gave me a slurry of some kind of grainy material in fluid.  I tried heating this some more, and it began to caramelize.  I stopped heating it immediately and pressed it into a pan.  When cooled it was soft and lumpy.  When frozen by contact with ice cream it has the consistency of the interior of a Butterfingers candy bar.  The flavor is still great but as bar form of Bittersweet chocolate it is a fail.

Does anyone have a recipe for making chips plus powder into something that can be picked up in the fingers?  We have quite a few pounds of the Nestle's chips to try to make useful.

 

swtgran's picture
swtgran

MangoChutney, if you are just looking for a way to easily use up your surplus of chips, try Rachel Ray's Five Minute Fudge Wreath.  It is fast, easy and lots of people like it.  It tastes a lot like a chunky and is a finger food.  There are lots of ways  to vary the recipe and you do not have to make it into a wreath.  That is just a gift giving suggestion.     Terry R.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

... what I am looking for is a way to turn this "chocolate" into something that tastes like real chocolate.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I think you went about adding more chocolate flavor the wrong way, cocoa powder is relatively coarse and no matter how much fat you add your tongue will detect it.  If you want to add more of that chocolate kick to what you have buy some unsweetened bakers chocolate, this is a 100% cocoa basically what the ingredient list on chocolates call chocolate liquor.  The difference between the liquor and the cocoa powder is that the powder has around 10% cocoa butter and the liquor is about half cocoa butter and it is also smoother to the tongue.  This should give you much better results as it won't break the emulsion which by the sounds of it your process did.

The chocolate companies spend a ton of money developing the taste, texture and mouth feel I think it is tough for you to improve on it at home, in my opinion the better option is to buy a product that you like from a reputable manufacturer.  If you don't like the $2 bag of chips I bet you'll like the $5 one more and in the long run that may be the better route than trying to reformulate the chocolate yourself.

Gerhard

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

The formulation information makes sense.  Candy-making never was a skill of mine.

I do want to say one thing in my defense.  I am talking about four $10 bags of chips, not a $2 bag.  I would throw a $2 bag of this in the trash, or use it as sugar.  Discarding $40 is quite a different prospect.  That is why I am trying to recover something from my bad purchase.  In the meantime, I will consider how to fit $25 bags of chips into my budget, since that is apparently the cost level of real chocolate chips these days.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I did not want to sound arrogant about your chocolate chip purchase, my point was merely that it may be easier and more cost effective to buy the taste/quality you want rather than trying to reach it by reformulating a lesser product.  If you have given up on using them for chocolate chips maybe you could incorporate them in a brownie recipe were they would blend in rather than be tasted on their own.  

Good luck with your experiments

Gerhard

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I'm sure it would have been cheaper and easier to buy what I wanted in the first place, if that had been for sale where I shop.  I was happy with the quality of the old version of Ghiradelli Bittersweet chips.  I wasn't willing to pay the 50% extra over Nestle's to get the new version of Ghiradelli and thought I was reverting to the lower quality Nestle's Semi-sweet chips, which was acceptable for the lower price,.  In retrospect, I should have realized that if Ghiradelli had made their chocolate chips with less chocolate liquor, then Nestle's would have done the same.  Even so, I'm not sure I would have imagined the quality of Nestle's product had fallen so low as it has.

My attempt at remaking the chocolate didn't turn out quite so bad after overnight in the refrigerator.  The coconut oil solidified without becoming brittle as it did when it was frozen, and apparently the cocoa powder melded in a bit better on ageing.  I would not claim to have found the ideal recipe, and I am sure blending the chips with melted baking chocolate would be preferable, but perhaps I have just made brownies without flour.  *grin*