Valrhona Grands Crus Chocolate Bars

Deep, dark, and irresistible.

Professional and home-cooks covet Valrhona chocolate for baking.

This year, the French chocolate company expanded its chocolate bar and home-baking range. I’ve baked many a time with the deep, complex tasting dark chocolate with unparalleled results.

When samples of its 3.5-ounce chocolate bars arrived in the mail, it was the perfect time to see if they stacked up to their baking counterparts.

I’ll use my patented scale of 1 to 10 lip-smackers, with 1 being the “Bleh, save your money” far end of the spectrum; 5 being the “I’m not sure I’d buy it, but if it was just there, I might nibble some” middle-of-the-road response; and 10 being the “My gawd, I could die now and never be happier, because this is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” supreme ranking.

Valrhona chocolate bars for enjoying straight out of hand.

Valrhona Grands Crus Bars ($5.99 each): I tried four of them. The Jivara 40 percent with Caramelized Pecans is a milk chocolate lover’s delight. The chocolate has a malty milk flavor, and a soft, smooth quality in your mouth. The pecans add a nice texture and more sweetness. This is like a grown-up Nestle’s Crunch Bar.

The Guanaja 70 percent with Roasted Cocoa Nibs is deeply earthy, but not bitter. The nibs grind against your teeth, making you laugh — in a good way, of course.

The Manjari 64 percent with Orange is made with beans from Madagascar. The chocolate itself has lovely red-wine fruit notes with an edge of subtle tang. The bitter-sweet nuggets of orange are the perfect compliment.

The Caraibe 66 percent with Roasted Hazelnuts is made from Trinitario beans from the Caribbean. The chocolate has a wonderful roasty, toasty quality that is heightened by the hazelnuts. It’s an explosion of nuttiness, with a finish that lingers a long time. Although I liked them all, this one would have to be my favorite.

For the best source of Valrhona chocolates, go to Chocosphere.

Rating Overall: 9 lip-smackers.

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