Focus on: Chocolate

With Valentine’s Day smack in the middle, February is a big month for chocolate—especially on dessert lists. Here are some basics for getting your chocolate inventory up to speed.

All chocolate starts with cacao or cocoa beans. The beans are roasted, cooled and cracked, producing chocolate liquor or cocoa mass, slightly over half of which is cocoa butter; the remainder is cocoa solids. Most pros use couverture—a product with a rich chocolate flavor and high proportion of cocoa butter.

Chocolate is labeled with a percentage of cocoa solids; the higher the percentage,
the more intense the flavor. “With high-end chocolate,” says Carolina Gavet, marketing manager for Valrhona USA, “flavor depends a lot on the origin of the chocolate as well as the percentage.” A versatile new chocolate that’s atracting chefs is Valrhona’s Nyangbo 68 percent from southern Ghana.

Green & Black’s new professional collection, developed specifically for foodservice, is a dark 70 percent couverture—a “workhorse” percentage—sourced from organic, fair trade certified beans primarily from Dominican Republic and Belize. “We’re hoping to express the terroir of the chocolate, although chefs seem more interested in fair trade over single origin and even organic,” notes associate brand manager Robert Grgurev. Green & Black’s chocolate is shaped into pistoles or discs for easy measuring and melting, packed in a 5 kg. resealable bag.

The top consideration for buyers is to match the chocolate to its end use, says Gavet. Although many professional-quality chocolates are applicable to a range of desserts, Valrhona’s new Coeur de Guanaja is a couverture with a slightly lower cocoa butter content specifically formulated for ice creams, mousses, pastry creams and higher fat items. “Chefs who want a strong chocolate flavor and color usually add more chocolate, but that also increases the cocoa butter content and can throw off a recipe,” Gavet adds. “This product enhances flavor without compromising texture.” Most users buy 3 kg. bags of feves or discs, but blocks are available, too. Another new product is Caramelia—a 36 percent milk chocolate infused with caramel; it eliminates the step of caramelizing the sugar.

Barry Callebaut markets three tiers of couverture: Castleberry (high-end French), Callebaut (premium Belgian brand) and Van Leer (value priced domestic chocolate). Intensity ranges from 56 to 80 percent to suit many preps. The couverture, sold in 5 kg. blocks and squares of varying weights, is widely used by pastry chefs, but “many sous chefs are now in charge of making desserts,” says Parveen Warner, marketing director Americas. To meet their needs, the company launched value-added chocolate garnishes, molded decorations and crispearls —chocolate crunchies that add texture.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

FSD Resources