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Baker’s Chocolate vs. Scharffen Berger. October 29, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I grew up with Baker’s Chocolate. My beloved Mama relied on it exclusively in all baked goods and candies, including her famous fudge. She used unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate and their bittersweet bar, and we always had them on hand in the house. While I wasn’t prepared to take a bite of unsweetened chocolate, I very much enjoyed their bittersweet version, with its unique dark but dry or chalky (as opposed to creamy or oily) taste.

Sadly, no Baker’s Chocolate bar has ever entered my own home, except on the very rare occasions when I make Mama’s fudge for the holidays. I’d almost forgotten about it until I saw that our local health food store, of all places, was selling bars of Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate. For years, I’d been reading about how Scharffen Berger—which, despite its Swiss-sounding name, is actually made in Robinson, Illinois, perhaps an ironic tribute to the Swiss Family Robinson—was considered the best artisanal chocolate in America.

I’d never seen Scharffen Berger for sale before, so of course I snapped up a bar, eager to see what everyone was raving about. When I got home, I broke off a square and tasted it. And guess what? It tasted exactly like the Baker’s bittersweet bar of my memory, dark and dry/chalky. Hmmmm.

Since I wanted to post about this, I decided to do a little research about Baker’s Chocolate, and Wikipedia had a doozy of an article on the subject. First, I learned that Baker’s Chocolate was originated not as a cooking aid for bakers, but as a health food by a Dr. James Baker in 1764. Dr. Baker, not bakers. Yow.

But that wasn’t all I learned. Love that German chocolate cake? Turns out it has nothing to do with Germany, but instead is the result of a Baker’s employee, Samuel German, who invented a sweeter chocolate bar, called German’s Sweet Chocolate. A Dallas newspaper printed a recipe for a cake that used his bar as an ingredient as “German Chocolate Cake,” and so a legend was born. Ironically, the modern Baker’s product lineup includes sweetened coconut flakes, a key ingredient in German chocolate icing.

So, folks, there you have it. Nothing is what it seems, but chocolate is still chocolate, whether it’s Scharffen Berger or Baker’s.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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