If there is such a thing as the family chocolate, then ours has always been Hershey. It’s our version of a coat of arms. Hershey is what my grandfather liked and what he used in a business that has become legendary in family lore. Wherever you find his daughter, my mother, you’ll find a Hershey bar within reach.

A girl does not always, however, go the way of her forebears. I abandoned the Hershey legacy long ago, as have my siblings on our quest for the best tasting chocolates made. It is not unheard of to find us at the kitchen counter peeling back foil wrappers on a new assortment of bars, like Charlie looking for the golden ticket. Our own golden ticket is to find a chocolate that has perfect balance. Even my nieces and nephews get in on it with their observations of what’s good, and what isn’t. I’m so proud.

For dipping chocolate, I like to use 55-60% cocoa solids, which is a semi-sweet chocolate, or a combination of milk and bittersweet chocolates. Callebaut and Barry, Belgian chocolate brands which make perfect couverture (chocolate expressly made for tempering, for extra snap and sheen), are my favorites. I’ve ordered massive 5 kg. blocks of Callebaut for our holiday dipping, and regularly bought pound chunks at Treasure Island in Chicago and then at Tante Marie’s in San Francisco. We used Barry chocolate chips at the French Pastry School in Chicago, where I took the chocolate-making class that pushed me over the edge to change course entirely and head to culinary school. I’m also a fan of Green & Black’s organic, free-trade chocolate, which I was delighted to find at the Harbor IGA. It’s a great eating chocolate, but a combination of their milk and bittersweet bars dips beautifully.

Get your chocolate larder filled, my friends, and roll back your sleeves. It’s candy-making time.

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