Saturday, April 3, 2010

Taste Test: Chocolate Chips

When it comes to chocolate chips, I always used to grab the Nestle's semisweet, because those were the most common ones when I was first learning how to bake. They're familiar. Which is comforting.

But lately, I've been trying different brands, buying them randomly as I need more chips...but that's not a good comparison. Every one I've tried has been good, but the question really is whether one is really better than the others. To do that, a side-by-side taste test of the plain chips seemed to be in order.

It's a tough job, but I think I'm up for the task.And I found another willing volunteer as well.

From left to right, here we have Guittard, Ghirardelli, and Nestle's chips:

For clarification, the Nestle's and Guittard chips are semisweet and the Ghirardelli chips are the bittersweet version.

Right off the bat, the Ghirardelli chips are much larger. Whether that's good or not depends on what you're making, but it makes them easier to pick out of a lineup. The Nestle's are darkest and they have the advantage of being available at every grocery store in town. The Ghirardelli are also fairly easy to find locally, but the Guittard were a new offering here, and I snatched them up recently just because I hadn't tried them before.

My fellow tester and I were unanimous on the Guittard. They didn't have much flavor. Oh well.

Right about then, he commented that this test didn't take into account how these chips would work in an actual cookie. True, but my theory is that just like cooking with wine, you should be willing to eat the chocolate you're baking with. And I use chips for things other than cookies.

Although we agreed on the Guittard, we were split on the actual winner. The Nestle's Semisweet was a familiar flavor, but it had floral notes that I'd never paid any attention to when gobbling down cookies. Since the Ghirardelli was a bittersweet, it wasn't as sweet as the Nestle's and it had some deeper flavors that were quite different from the Nestle's.

So now the sample chips are gone and I noticed Hershey's Special Dark chips at the grocery store. I guess I'll have to give those a test as well, even though I'm not a big fan of the regular Hershey's flavor. And next time, there will be cookies. And maybe some milk.