The Consummate Chocolate Chip (Cookie)
is the one making its debut in today’s New York Times , according to David Leite, who is responsible for it. Well, maybe. Although I prefer my own ( which include roasted cacao nibs), there is much baking wisdom in Leite’s story, including the use of high quality couverture chocolate disks, which really ARE the consummate chocolate chips.
Roasted cacao nibs, couverture chocolates from El Rey (round) and Valrhona (oval). The dusty coating on the nibs is just a bit of cocoa butter that rose to the surface in storage. Almost all high-quality chocolate makers offer their couverture as beans, pearls, disks or other small round bits, which are streets easier to measure and melt than giant baking bars.
Shapes and sizes vary – the mini-grammes from Michel Cluizel are about the size of peas. And there is a world of origins and chocolate percentages; the El Rey Apamate discos here ( 73.5% chocolate) are from Venezuela, the Valrhona Guanaja fèves (70%) are a South American blend. The Cluizel Hacienda Mangaro dark (65%), from Madagascar, is not in the picture because we ate it all.
Anymore I use couverture disks for every chocolate recipe – no more chopping up bars for me! – and I use them with abandon because they’re inexpensive when bought by the kilo from sources like Chocosphere and Worldwide Chocolate.
Ok, not inexpensive, but WAY less costly than pretty little packages; and given how well chocolate keeps if you can’t use up a kilo you simply aren’t trying.
The same buying system applies to the cocoa nibs, one of the world’s most wonderful foods. They’re just roasted cacao beans, the raw material of all chocolate. But unlike 100% baking chocolate, they’re not bitter; they’re crunchy and nutlike and aromatic and much lighter on the palate than the finished article. They don’t melt, so you can use them like chopped nuts. And because they’re sugar free, they’re a great balance for the hyper sweetness of white chocolate … or, if it comes to that, most chocolate chip cookie doughs. Try substituting nibs for about a fourth of the chips in your favorite recipe and see if you don’t agree.