While San Francisco is home to the finest food, it's also home to some of the laziest food criticism. Each overheard tidbit can come off as painful as the nuggets of cinematic turd uttered by the pretentious schlub in Annie Hall (we're guilty of this too, by the way). For example: "Vodka is terrible," "the Mission has the best Mexican," "heirloom tomatoes and Kraft Singles don't go together," "burritos are good," and most egregiously, "milk chocolate is trash." Lazy all around. But the latter point we could never wrap our head or our heart around.
How could something so critical to the taste and glee of youth get such a bad wrap? Enter SF Chronicle's Emily Luchetti, James Beard Award-winning pastry chef. She defends the milkiness with a gentle break down in her debut column as the new author of "The Baker."
Among common arguments against milk chocolate, Luchetti notes that "[t]oo much sugar and poor-quality milk are the major factors in inferior milk chocolate," adding, "[m]ilk chocolate isn't your grandmother's chocolate any more. It's not one dimensional. Dark and milk chocolates are like apples and oranges, and can be appreciated for what they are." According to some sweet study, as reported in Sunday's column, Americans prefer milk chocolate 3 to 1. In the Bay Area, however, we crave dark chocolate in larger numbers. While we personally love a nice dark chocolate (encasing peanut butter or caramel, ideally, for we are only human), there truly are some great milks out there -- Scharffen Berger and Tcho most notably.
Like a beacon of foil-wrapped hoped, Luchetti reveals her two favorite milk chocolates:
Two of my favorite brands are locally made - Guittard and Tcho. Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolate says it's harder to make a good milk chocolate than dark chocolate because of the variables and the need for high temperatures to encourage caramelization and develop the dairy flavor.
Tcho offers a couple of milk chocolate products, including SeriousMilk Cacao, with the minimum amount of milk allowed. Brad Kintzer, the company's chief chocolate maker, likens the taste to dark chocolate ice cream. The chocolate is intense, but the dairy component is prominent, too.
She also doles out choice tips for baking with chocolate (don't use chips!) and places in San Francisco in which to buy said sweet saviors of milk chocolate. Read the entire thing now, and then stop complaining about wonderful chocolate in all of its forms, you bloated cacao percentageists.