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Top Baking Chocolates
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For all of the bakers and chocolate enthusiasts out there, it's very important to know what brands are best to work with when creating delicious desserts. With an avid baker on staff, we've dealt with a number of varieties of baking chocolates over the years and have weeded out the brands that can be detrimental to even the best dessert designs. It is important that the chocolate you use for baking be creamy, smooth, and flavorful. Some brands have delicate undertones of flavors that can add a wonderful layer of complexity to any recipe. This Top Five Baking Chocolates list will, hopefully, help you decide which chocolate to include in your next dessert related endeavor.

5. Callebaut
An excellent choice for budget bakers at about $8.75 for 17.5 ounces, this Belgian brand is sure to add richness to your desserts without breaking the bank. Callebaut's dark chocolate balances bitterness and sweetness to create a complex, rich, almost earthy flavor with caramel undertones, making it a great choice to use in brownies. Unfortunately, Callebaut is not typically found in most supermarkets but can be purchased online or at gourmet shops and boutiques.

4. Scharffen Berger
At about $4.50 for 3 ounces, this San Francisco-based brand is a bit more expensive than Callebaut but is worth every penny. Splashed with a number of fruity undertones, cherry being the most prominent, Scharffen Berger is best used in cakes, particularly if you happen to be making a Black Forest cake or any other similar recipe that would benefit from the added complexity of this chocolate's unique, natural flavors. This brand is becoming easier to find in supermarkets across the country but can always be purchased online, as well.

3. Ghirardelli
Also based in California, this brand can be found in just about any neighborhood supermarket at the reasonable price of about $3.00 for 4 ounces. Ghirardelli's products can be described as 'intensely chocolatey' which sounds redundant unless you've actually tasted some of their chocolate or even something made using this premium product. It has a uniquely assertive flavor that will assure any taster that they are eating pure chocolate.

2. Valrhona
Approximately $4.00 for 2.6 ounces, this is one of the pricier chocolates on this list but, like all of them, is worth every penny. Based in France, Valrhona produces the Manjari bar, my recommendation, a chocolate that is rich, balanced, creamy, and deep, with fruity and lightly floral undertones. The embodiment of all we search for in chocolate, use this bar in any recipe with the word 'bliss' in the title. This brand will most likely be found in gourmet stores.

1. Dagoba
In the past year or so, this Oregon based company developed a small line of organic baking chocolate products that can be purchased for about $7.00 for 6 ounces. While these products are excellent in quality and flavor and will certainly add richness to any recipe, you may want to take at their original product line of chocolate bars meant to be eaten 'raw.' They have a selection of 'standard' types, sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet, but the true gems are the artisan bars like lavender blueberry, lemon ginger, chai, and the 'roseberry' bar, made from raspberries and rosehips. At about $3.50 for 2 ounces, including Dagoba in your next dessert might be a bit costly, but the effect on your desserts is entirely worthwhile.

Much like the philosophy that states 'One should never cook with wine they wouldn't drink,' you should never, ever bake with chocolate you wouldn't eat. Whatever your preferences or expectations are, these brands will meet, if not exceed, them.

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