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French chocolate authority Chloé Doutre-Roussel insists that being French hasn’t biased her palate. “French chocolate is just simply the best,” she says. Here, she makes her case:
France is still the best when it comes to chocolate, and it is not an accident that most of the good chocolate-makers outside of France use mostly French couverture (a high-quality candymaker’s chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter, usually 32% to 39%) and have trained with or copied French-style chocolatiers and chocolates.
I’m not saying all French chocolate is perfect. It can range from mediocre to very good. However, on average, French chocolate is often the best quality-to-price ratio for the following reasons:
1. High-quality couverture is expensive but still less expensive than any other country, and the best couvertures are made in France.
2. There are many talented chocolate technicians in France and more opportunities to train with chocolate-makers.
3. French chocolate-makers make small filled chocolates with thin coatings and a four-week shelf life. The longer the shelf life, the worse the quality. In France, people treat chocolate like a fresh product and buy it in small quantities to eat soon after. In the U.K., U.S. and Belgium, shelf life tends to be three to six months; people buy chocolate and it sits in cabinets.
For shopping, I suggest people buy chocolate from Patrick Roger, he is one of the best. And also Jean-Paul Hévin and Pierre Hermé.
Anyone interested in the chocolate-making process should call ahead and schedule a visit at the French factories of Pralus and Valrhona.
Find out what Chloé thinks about the rest of the world's top chocolate-making countries tomorrow.