The Scharffen Berger Experiments Part 3: Candy

Going into this experiment was not as easy as my other experiments. I knew I wanted to make candy, but deciding what kind of candy, what kind of filling, and what style I would use took a great deal of thought.
I needed a style of chocolate that would allow the chocolate to shine, to allow the differences to be easily spotted. After careful consideration, I decided to do a molded chocolate filled with an toasted, sugared almond center. I added cocoa powder and cinnamon to the sugar used to toast the almonds so there would be an additional level of flavor other than the sweet of the chocolate and sugar.

Chopped almonds mixed with cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon to make a crunchy, sweet filling.

I wanted to have a clear basis of comparison, so I knew I needed to do the opposite of what I did in the Mousse Experiment. There were two points I tried to make in this experiment, and I was successful. The first, that I could produce a candy with a filling that would accent both the similarities and the differences between the Scharffen Berger chocolates. The second, that the bad temper from the Scharffen Berger chocolate in the Mousse Experiment was a fluke.
I did the tempering the old-school way: glass bowl, double boiler style over a pot of gently boiling water. The result was beautiful! It was gorgeous to watch how the Scharffen Berger tempered: it was text-book this time. As always, the Callebaut tempered perfectly as well.  Take a look for yourself:

Tempered Scharffen Berger chocolate going into a squeeze bottle to be used in a chocolate mold.

 

Tempered Callebaut chocolate

In a blind taste test completed at my place of employment, I gave out samples to 12 people: one of each type of chocolate. The Scharffen Berger edged out slightly in this test, 7-5. The tasters in favor of the Scharffen Berger like that it was ” sweet, smooth, and reminded them of the texture of milk chocolate.”  The tasters in favor of Callebaut like the “strong, rich flavor and lingering taste.”

Partially filled molds with Scharffen Berger chocolate, filled with toasted almond crunch

The round molds are Callebaut chocolates, the square Scharffen Berger

L-R Scharffen Berger Chocolate, Callebaut Chocolate

Next Experiment: Cookies. Chocolate Cookies.  After that, it’s up in the air. Have I finished all my experiments, dear readers? Are there any more factors I need to consider before deciding who really makes the best chocolate?

The Scharffen Berger Experiments Part 2: Mousse

Thank you to Jane Mermel from RF Binder for the Scharffen Berger chocolate used in the experiment. These experiences are my own: I conducted the experiment from start to finish, and did not allow anyone to assist me.

The first experiment I made was with chocolate mousse. A basic mousse recipe, courtesy of Helen Nash’s Kosher Kitchen. Temper chocolate, separate eggs, whip whites, add rum and a touch of salt, add yolks to the melted chocolate. Fold in whites. Not difficult. I used the same recipe for both batches of mousse, the only variable being the type of chocolate. In this experiment, I used  the semi-sweet chocolate.

The first challenge I had was to temper the chocolate. The Callebaut tempered beautifully: in about 10 minutes I had perfectly tempered chocolate, with a stunning sheen. The Scharffen Berger took twice as long, and didn’t completely melt. It was confusing: I had never seen chocolate act like that before.

 

Both chocolates in tempering stage: the Callebaut to the left. Scharffen Berger to the right. I noted that throughout the entire process the Scharffen Berger had a unique reddish hue.

No matter, there was still mousse to be made. Despite the Scharffen Berger not melting totally, by the time I added the egg yolks and the whipped white, I was able to make two batches of mousse- one Callebaut, one Scharffen Berger. I put them in the fridge and left them to cool overnight.

Callebaut mousse completed before refrigeration

 

 

 

Scharffen Berger mousse completed, before refrigeration

 

The next morning, I went to check on the mousse. I took a spoon to the Callebaut mousse and was able to scoop it nicely. Then I tried to scoop the Scharffen Berger. Next surprise- the mousse was solid. Completely solid. I had put the mousse into disposable aluminum tins to set, and had to take another tin with steaming hot water and place it under the Scharffen Berger mousse (bain-marie style) in order to get it to soften.

I decided to use the Callebaut mousse as a pie, topped with rum-soaked maraschino cherries. The Scharffen Berger mousse I used as a filling and icing for a gluten free vanilla layer cake. I felt this played to the strengths of each of the finished products. The Callebaut chocolate has a hint of cinnamon and a rich, lingering finish on the tongue. The Scharffen Berger chocolate has a strong honey taste and bold flavor, the finish more subtle and very sweet.

Chocolate mousse in graham cracker crust with rum-soaked maraschino cherries. Chocolate used: Callebaut semi-sweet.

 

I noted that after the Scharffen Berger chocolate cooled, the unique coloring disappeared. Vanilla gluten-free layed cake filled and iced with chocolate mousse. Chocolate used: Scharffen Berger semi-sweet.

This experiment was interesting, but I am already looking forward to the next one: candy. Chocolate candy. Molded, definitely, possibly truffles as well. Oh the possibilities…

 

 

The Scharffen Berger Experiments: A Study of Chocolate (Intro)

Thanks to Jane Mermel and RF Binder for the samples of Scharffen Berger chocolate. All opinions are my own.

It was a crazy idea that started a few months ago. Maybe May, or June was it? I can’t quite remember when. I follow Scharffen Berger on Twitter, and noticed how they kept tweeting about how good their chocolate is. Until this point, I had heard of them, but had no real knowledge of their product. When I need chocolate for a recipe, I use Callebaut. Every few months, the kind ladies at the Peppermill in Boro Park will deliver me a custom order: 5 to 10 1lb pre cut blocks of individually wrapped semi-sweet Callebaut. Each block should be as close to the pound as possible. They are so very wonderful about it.

It’s a true pleasure to work with Callebaut-it always has been, since my cooking school days. It was what Chef used, in those 50lb blocks. Not every student was allowed to use it, and heaven help you if you wasted any at all.  I will never forget my first lesson in tempering chocolate, and it is safe to say that is what started my love of making chocolates. It was my second year in cooking school, the year I spent in Baking, and I easily spent six of those months doing nothing but chocolate work. For me, there is always that moment when the chocolate is perfectly tempered, and it is glorious. No matter how many times I temper chocolate, I wait for that moment with the same intensity as I did the very first time.

So back to 2012, and I am seeing Scharffen Berger on Twitter.  I am actually getting a little annoyed. Maybe more than a little.  I don’t see any other chocolate company (Callebaut, Valrhona, the really high-end stuff) going on about their product. Finally, after determing their product was kosher, I threw down my gauntlet. If you, Scharffen Berger, are so good, let me do a test to test comparision between you and Callebaut. I decided to do four tests: mousse, cake, chocolates (molded or truffle) and icecream. This way I could experiment with both their cocoa powder and their bar chocolate. I was put in touch with Jane Mermel at RF Binder ( the PR company for Scharffen Berger) and I was sent the loveliest assortment of chocolates.

So now I am the blogger on a mission: whose chocolate is really better? Is it the Belgian chocolate with a century of making some of the finest product on the market? Or is it the chocolate of 2 Americans with a dream, only on the market for 2 decades? Stay tuned, dear readers, for one of the sweetest journeys I’ve yet to take. The first test: Mousse. Chocolate Mousse. Hungry yet?

Chocolate in Various Forms

From left: Chocolate covered cherries, chocolate-almond truffles, chocolate peanutbutter squares

Eat your heart out! Top: Chocolate covered cherry Bottom: Chocolate peanutbutter square

Chocolate covered cherries and peanutbutter squares – pick as you choose!

A handful of sweetness -take 2 and call me in the AM!

The Finale: on the tray, ready to go!