"When I die," I said to my friend, "I'm not going to be embalmed. I'm going to be dipped."
"Milk chocolate or bittersweet?" was her immediate concern.
This is the rhetorical response of one chocolate addict to another. We both know the answer. Bittersweet.
THUS BEGINS a new book, "The Chocolate Bible," by Adrianne Marcus - a paean to the addiction she shares with millions of others.
Marcus' habit is so strong that in researching the book she traveled 18,000 miles to sample the world's chocolates. She lost weight. And she learned that chocolate has been viewed throughout the centuries as a bromide, a stimulant, an aphrodisic, a form of currency and a symbol of wealth, not to mention a source of intense enjoyment.
As Marcus discovered, the enjoyment varies from region to region. If you started on the West Coast and progressed across America, then across the ocean to Europe and beyond, you would find the preference for chocolate changing from light, bland milk chocolate to darker, more strongly flavored types and on to the intense, bittersweet variety.
"The Chocolate Bible" (Putnam's, $12.95) is an encyclopedic guide to chocolates all over the world - with the notable exclusion of Washington, D. C. So the Resolute Shopper set out to fill that gap and find what our area has to offer "Chocoholics."
If you find one of the offerings appealing, it will last longest if stored in a cool place away from moisture and odors, not in the refrigerator. If you need to store the chocolate longer than a week or two, wrap it airtight for freezing. To bring it back to room temperature, the chocolate will suffer least if it is kept wrapped at 60 to 70 degrees for a day before opening.
If the chocolate has been exposedto light or heat, the coca butter may rise to the surface, creating graystreaks. They will not affect the quality.
After each listing are the approximate price and popular forms, although others might be available. Almost all can be purchased throughout the Washington area.
Chocolates for Eating
Godiva - Although some desperate and finicky cooks have been known to melt down individual Godiva chocolates for cooking, the molded candies are some of the finest and most beautiful for gift-giving.
Godiva originated in Belgium, but the chocolates sold in the U. S. are made in Pennsylvania by Pepperidge Farm, a division of the Campbell Soup Co. which owns both the Belgian and American Godiva firms. A variety of candies, many painstakingly shell-molded with an acceptable if somewhat bland flavor, are available at $9.50 per pound from Garfinckel's, Neiman-Marcus and Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice, 1330 Wisconsin Avenue, NW.
Godiva also makes a 1-ounce milk chocolate bar which sells for 60 cents at Garfinckel's and tastes like liquid lecithin smells. It is not particularly good.
Some of the Belgian-made Godiva bars are imported and sold at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice, which seems to have the largest selection of chocolate in the city. The 3 3/8-ounce milk chocolate with vanilla has a delightful Swiss taste; it sells for $2.25.
Neuhaus - This is another Belgian chocolate, brought into Washington exclusively by Neiman-Marcus, where the filled and molded candies are sold for $12 per pound. They are shipped directly from Belgium, which explains the intense flavor of the fillings and darker chocolate coverings which Europeans prefer. Neuhaus chocolates are beautiful and exquistiely packaged in showy silver boxes.
Kron - This Madison Avenue speciality shop has opened a branch in the Mazza Gallerie, 5310 Wisconsin Ave. NW, which sells custom-decorated chocolate objects including all of the lettles of the alphabet ( $5 each for about 4 ounces). We found their flavor to be pleasant, if a bit chalky, reminiscent, in one panelist's mind, of the chocolate cigarettes of youth.
Avignone Freres - 1777 Columbia Road NW. All of the chocolates here are made on the premises. The fillings are extremely sweet and the chocolate coverings waxy. Several different varieties sell for $4.60 per pound.
Harge's - This is a Baltimore chocolate made without preservatives and brought to Washington every two weeks by The Confectionary, 1625 K St. NW. One taster described the milk-chocolate lozenges as "appropriate after a meal on an airplane." The milk chocolate is innocuous with a low-key flavor.
Droste - The milk chocolate pastilles come in a tidy tube which holds 3.5 ounces and sells for $1.50 at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice. Our panelists dubbed them "Teutonic," with a strong character, dry texture and a hint of peanut butter in the aftertaste.
Crumpets Candies - 1237 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Naron candies from Baltimore are sold here in many forms, including milk chocolate chunks at $5.60 per pound. A taster who had lived in Atlanta described it as "Dixieland chocolate" because of its excessive sweetness and gummy texture.
Crumpets also sells a bar under its own label made by the Pennsylvania Dutch Co. in Mount Holly Springs, Pa.The 3 1/2 ounce bittersweet bar, which costs $1, did not have a great deal of depth and had too much perfume in the taste.
Fannie May - 640 17th St. NW and other locations. These stores sell a variety of filled and plain chocolates for $3.95 per pound. The plain milk chocolate squares filled the mouth nicely, without a memorable flavor.
Russell Stover - Seven Corners Shopping Center, Falls Church, and other locations. "I don't think it's hard to do better than Russell Stover, though it's possible to do a lot worse," said Adrianne Marcus. The filled chocolates are $3.50 per pound; our group thought they were fine.
Ghirardelli - San Francisco is the home of this famous candy company, which now sells products to several places in Washington including Georgetown Wine and Food Co., 1015 Wisconsin Ave. NW; The great Chase, 3112 M St. and White Flint Mall, and Pier 1 Imports, 3307 M St. NW. The milk chocolate chunks cost $5.49 per pound (available only at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice and The Great Chase.) The firm's reputation aside, this chocolate was extremely hard grainly, excessively sweet and had an unpleasant aftertaste.
Cadbury - Many stores carry these bars, whcih originated in England and are now made for the American market in Connecticut. The milk chocolate bar was most satisfying, with a creamy taste and a great deal of body and depth - and at 95 cents for 5 ounces, a relative bargin.
Tobler - This Swiss product can be bought all over the world. The 3-ounce milk chocolate bar, which sells for about $1.19 in many stores (including Capitol Hill Wine and Cheese, 611 Pennsylvania Ave. NE) was gratifying and smooth, if not as gutsy as some of the others; "feminine" was the way one taster put it. Another recommended it to accompany brandy.
Hershey's - When tasted against all of the above competition, our panel found this old standby to be very sweet and smooth. "You could eat a lot of this," satisfying as some others." The basic Hershey bar is now 25 cents for 1.2 ounces.
Francois Dionot, who teaches cooking courses at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, suggests that when trying to decide whether to use seeetened or unsweetened chocolate for cooking, "you put in the amount of sugar you desire with unsweetened chocolate. If you use sweetened chocolate, all cakes will turn out with the same amount of sweetness."
Your recipe will also dictate which kind of chocolate to choose. For a dessert which does not call for a lot of cooking, say a chocolate mousse, you would probably prefer to use sweetened chocolate, since sugar added separately may not melt satisfactorily.
Any of the following chocolates can be used to make chocolate fondue. Simply melt the chocolate very slowly in a double boiler, or in a slow-cooker set on low, and give your guests pieces of pound cake and fresh or dried fruit on wooden skewers. You also can stir in heavy cream and a liqueur.
As berries and fruits of summer come into season, they can be dipped in chocolate and put into the refrigerator to harden.
Cote d'Or - This Belgain chocolate was one of the most popular brands tasted. The milk chocolate bar sells for about $3 for 7 1/16 ounces, and the extra bittersweet bar is about $2 for 3 1/2 ounces. The milk chococlate was rich, creamy and baroque; the bittersweet was, as it should be, strong, dry and forceful. Available at Capitol Hill Wine and Cheese and Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice.
Tobler makes a Swiss bittersweet and an extra bittersweet bar; both are extremely strong in flavor and excellent for baking. Bittersweet fans would enjoy eating them as well. (See above for where to buy.)
Lindt - This Swiss company also makes an extra bittersweet with a dry, hearty flavor a touch lighter than the Tobler. The 3-ounce bar sells for about $1.40 at the Chevy Chase Supermarket, 8531 Connecticut Ave.
Maillard - This chocolate, made in Bethlehem, Pa., is called "sweet," but fits into the bittersweet category. With a strong flavor and a slightly burnt aftertaste, it costs about $1.25 for a 4-ounce bar at The French Market, 1632 Wisconsin Ave. NW, and the Chevy Chase Supermarket.
Chocolate for Cooking Only
You could eat these if you were desperate, but since most contain very little sugar, a bite might prove a shock.
Ibarra - This is one of the oddest chocolate we found. It comes in red-and-yet-low-stripped octagonal cardboard containers from Guadalajara, Mexico. Each piece resembles a hockey puck and is filled with cinnamon, nuts and granules of sugar. The instructions on the box recommend it for a chocolate drink. The 19.8-ounce box costs $3.99 at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice.
Baker's - These can be found in most supermarkets:
German's Sweet - This chocolate seemed to be the favorite among the sweetened cooking chocolates. It is dry, not bitter or over-lecithined, with a good flavor. It costs about $1.50 for 4 ounces.
Semi-Sweet - We found it well-balanced and dependable, but not quite chocolaty enough. An 8-ounce package costs about $2.50.
Unsweetened - "No ingredients other than chocolate" on the box means that it contains chocolate liquor, the trade's name for pure cocoa powder and cocoa butter. It is a high-quality, dependable brand.About $2.50 for 8 ounces.
Godiva Sweetened Chocolate for the Kitchen - Although this had a good chocolate flavor, it was also too perfumed and light, with a chemical aftertaste.About $2.50 for 8 ounces. (See above for where to buy.)
Lanvin - This French chocolate had a differen flavor than others we tasted, somewhere between milk and bittersweet. Its pleasant taste would come across nicely in cooking. It costs $2 for 8 ounces at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice.
Scotbloc Cake Covering from Scotlan is most unusual. It is designed to melt and pour over a cake for icing or filling. "Prefab" and "emulsified" were used to describe it, but as a cooking shortcut it is useful. Available at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice for $2.50 for 10.6 ounces.
Hershey's and Kron also make unsweetened chocolate with the properties mentioned above for Baker's Unsweetened. Hershey's sells for about $2.40 for 8 ounces in most supermarkets. Kron, located in the Mazza Gallerie, sells its Baking Chocolate for $6 for 10 ounces.
Carma - Francois Dionot uses an imported Swiss brand of chocolate called Carma, which is available through the Restaurant Corporation of America. The smallest size is 2 1/2 pound blocks. You can make arrangements to buy Carma by calling Albert Uster, president of R.C.A. at 965-5257.
He will sell you a bittersweet block at $4.45 per pound; a sweeter milk chocolate block at $3.95 per pound, or a block of chocolate liquor at $6.55 per pound.
Jarvis Kitchenware, 5021 Wilson Blvd., Bethesda, sells Carma bittersweet chocolate retail at $3.75 per half pound.
Van Leer - This is a small, family-owned firm with a great deal of integrity and quality products. Since you have to buy their bulk cooking chocolate in 20-pound blocks or more, you might like to get a few friends together to share. For more information, write Van Leer Chocolate Corp., 110 Hoboken Ave., Jersey City, N.J. 07302.
This is chocolate with all of the cocoa butter removed, necessitating the addition of some kind of fat when used for cooking.
Hershey's - Available in supermarkets for $2.15 for 8 ounces. Muddy color with a slightly acidic bite and a decent chocolate flavor.
Droste - Costs $2.50 for 4 ounces at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice. Dark, rich brown color and a deep chocolate flavor.
Kron - $6 for a 10-ounce tub. Murky color with a satisfying, mellow chocolate flavor.
Chocolate Worth Waiting For
Teuscher - These divine Swiss chocolates will sell for $14 per pound in about three weeks at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice. There are plenty of people who pay that much in New York City and claim the chocolate is worth every penny. The truffles are justifiable popular.
Guittard - Another San Franciso chocolte with a large West Coast following will arrive soon at Georgetown Coffee, Tea and Spice in dark and milk and will sell for $30 for 10-pound blocks.