In Which Two Kilos Of Chocolate Enter Her Kitchen

Chocolat de Couverture

At the end of Chocolate & Zucchini’s birthday party last week, after all the guests had left in a whirlwind of kisses and effusive thanks and well wishes, the dust settled and it was just Nicolas, Maxence and me, collapsing into chairs, exhausted but beaming.

Nicolas, who hadn’t eaten all night from all that cooking, brought out a loaf of bread and a small round of demi-sec goat cheese, bought the previous Saturday at the organic Marché des Batignolles, from a tiny purveyor whose cheese is so fabulous she should be awarded the Legion d’Honneur. We indulged in one of those delicious late-night mini-picnics — funny how good cheese tastes at two in the morning — while we debriefed, threw ideas around for possible future events, and generally basked in the post-party happy mood.

And then, as we were gathering our things to go home, Nicolas said, “Oh, I didn’t even get your blog a present!”. He rummaged in two cardboard boxes nearby, brought out two bricks of chocolat de couverture, and handed them to me. Chocolat de couverture is the special type of chocolate that pâtissiers and chocolate makers use for their confections. It is made without any starch, to ensure perfect melting and a tip-top finish, shiny and smooth.

Each of these packages contains in fact five chocolate bars of 200g each, beautiful and richly dark. One package is of the Madong variety (from New-Guinea), while the other is called Tanao (origin unknown to me) — so far I have just tasted the latter, breaking up a little chunk, velvety and aromatic, to enjoy with my coffee. They come from a chocolate maker named “Chocolaterie de l’Opéra”, which was founded in 1850. They cater to professionals only and are renowned for the quality of their chocolate, which they make themselves from their own beans.

I don’t remember ever having that much chocolate (and what chocolate!) in my possession at any given time, and well, it feels fantastic! I thanked Nicolas profusely, clutching my two ingots of 70% gold, dreams of chocolate desserts bubbling up in my mind.

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  • http://wheresmydinner.blogspot.com Anne

    Oh man, I’m so envious right now! I have very elaborate chocolate plans for christmas, having just won Ebay auctions for both chocolate molds and little cute cello bags..

    Oh, I should introduce myself: Hi! I’m Anne! I’m an avid fan of yours. :) I found this site about a month or two ago and have been happily (and hungrily) reading through the archives. You inspired me so much I had to start a foodblog of my own – still very young, but I hope it will grow and prosper. Thanks for cheering up so many of my slightly boring workdays!!

    Anne in Sweden

  • http://shewhoeats.blogspot.com/ chika

    earlier this year I purchased a 1 kg box of dark couverture chocolate, half wondering how I could use up that big hunk, and ended up buying another after I had somehow consumed the first one in chocolate cake and hot chocolate, as well as straight into my stomach…

    At the same shop where I bought the chocolate I did a “choclate-tasting”, in which I tasted a small piece of each of 49 different kinds, inclusing Valrhona, Cacaobarry, and Opera. I don’t remember if the ones I had were same as what you have…

    now I can’t wait to see what you will turn those bars into!

  • http://www.himonkey.net monkey

    chika! did i join you at the chocolate tasting? i woke up the other day with in a daze with chocolate sneared on my finger with no memory of the previous 24 hours.

    ooh! i am eager to see what dainty treats our dear clotilde will whip up! truffles? chocolate covered rice cripsie treats? fudge sauce? the mind races!

    :: dons attractive and useful chocolate bib and hold official chocolate tasting tongs ::

    i’m ready!

  • joan

    whenever a kilo of white chocolate (Lindt) comes my way…then white chocolate and macadamia cookies are also on their way! I’ve never come across a soul who can refuse them :-)

    and then there’s the ultimate heaven of Italian hot chocolate…whipped cream? well…oh yes, of course!

  • Erin

    I will vote for truffles! I hosted a party for new friends last week and made a batch, they all freaked. I have been told that it is now expected that I bring them to every gathering. Little Chocolate Orgasms is what they were renamed.

  • http://www.edwinek.com Edwinek

    Lucky girl! That must be sooooo good. Last september, we were in ‘Le Paradis du Chocolat’ in La Côte St. André. An old chocolatier explained all about chocolate (most of which I managed to follow despite my less than adequate French). It was the first time I tasted light brown chocolate that wasn’t milk chocolate (which I don’t like) and it was great. But there’s nothing like high quality 70% or 80% black chocolate. Can’t wait to read about what you made with it.

  • http://wordstoeatby.blogspot.com/ debbie

    Mazel tov–that is just about the best birthday gift I can imagine! Like Anne above, I’m a relatively new reader inspired by you to create a blog of my own. Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with your newfound riches. If it were me, I’d start simple with chocolate-dipped glace cherries and move on from there…

  • http://www.vaguelyspecific.com faith

    I’m not a real chocolate freak but that does sound divine! I found a recipe for a chocolate and zuchini cake which I reasoned should be renamed the “Clotilde cake”, I tried to find an email address to post it to but couldn’t so email me if you want it!

  • kyler

    I love stopping by your site from time to time to read about your wonderful adventures in food. One thing I noticed though, in reading your article is that you stated that Couveture is not a special type of chocolate that pastry chefs use. Chocolate truffles and chocolate candies have to go through a lengthy process of melting the chocolate, cooling it and then reheating it to a very specific temperature. All the while agitating to insure all of the fats in the cocoa butter are emulsified. Couveture, or coating chocolate as it’s often called, is chocolate mixed with vegetable oil. You don’t have to temper it. Just melt it, dip strawberries, truffles or what not and then let it cool. Both products will be shiny, have strength and snap when they’re broken. However couveture will tasty slightly waxy when compared with a pure chocolate. Pastry chefs worth their salt, er sugar :), would never come near couveture.

    kr

  • http://web.tiscali.it/onenightband/ Emanuele

    With regard to this suject…from October 28th to November 1st the Exposition at Porte de Versailles will give hospitality to the 10th SALON DU CHOCOLAT! I think I’ll go there (it’so close to my house that it would be a shame to miss it): Clotilde, if you’re going too, tell me!

  • Nassim

    hi hi hi, ton expérience me rappelle le jour où j’ai vu un Toblerone d’un mètre de haut (!) et un Chupa Chups de 30 cm de diamètre (!!) au Carrefour.

  • http://thehappysorceress.blogspot.com Stephanie

    My husband was wondering if you take your own photographs…the pictures are beautiful!

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/republicofcandy/ candy

    Hi, Clotilde — this post made my mouth water and my stomach grumble. An hour after experiencing those sensations, I am back from my trip to La Maison du Chocolat, where I indulged in a cup of their Caracas hot chocolate. Yummmm…

  • sandy

    Enjoy the ballet! My husband and I went to our first ballet at Opera Garnier last time we were in Paris, and it was an incredible experience. He doesn’t really enjoy ballet that much… he just wanted to look at the Opera Garnier. It’s so beautiful…

    Best,
    Sandy in Illinois, USA

  • Andrea Robinson

    I love your BLOG!!! I love Gourmet food and I really LOVE Paris so it is a natural for me! Any way all the reading and thinking about chocolate caused a light to come on in my brain! My daughter also loves food, chocolate and Paris but has a life and death allergy to nuts, peanuts and soy products. Here in the U.S. all chocolate contains some amount of soy emulsifier or has been processed in a plant thay may process peanuts, etc. Therefore, she stays away from chocolate of all kinds. I know that european chocolate is more pure. After reading about your Chocolate de Couverture I started thinking maybe with your knowledge of cooking and chocolate you might be able to recommend something that I could purchase through the mail. Any ideas from you or other readers would be of great help! Thanks and I will continue to read your work.

  • http://www.SantaBarbaraChocolate.com Jason Vishnefske

    What a lovely piece. I especially enjoyed reading it because a very similar circumstance happened to me. The experience so inspired me, I convinced my business partner to agree that Santa Barbara Chocolate Co. should become the USA importer of Chocolaterie De L’Opera. This chocolate couverture is truly the best I’ve ever had! And unlike so many other chocolate companies that claim to make chocolate from single origin cacao (most using only 40% origin cacao)- L’Opera really does! The cacao is perfectly fermented, handled with care, roasted and conched to make a truly unsurpassed chocolate.

  • http://www.idreaminchocolate.co.uk annabelt

    wow, fabulous! Your blog reminds me to take more time to appreciate good food in general :) I made a chocolate wedding cake for my brother once, and when I bought all the chocolate it was the most the girl in the shop had ever sold in one go. But as it was Christmas, she’d also just sold the most alcohol ever, to the man in front of me!

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