The chocolate and dessert obsessed among our foodie ranks may have noticed a new type of chocolate popping up: Valrhona. Sold by pastry chefs, chocolatiers, and foodie bloggers worldwide as the premium choice for any chocolate based product, the only question we have is: WTF is it, actually?
WTF it is
With the way it’s been marketed recently, you might think Valrhona is a kind of cacao-based aphrodisiac or something, but in reality, it’s not so exciting. But that doesn’t mean their chocolate isn’t incredibly good. Valrhona is actually a French premium chocolate manufacturer based in a little French town known as Tain-l’Hermitage in Hermitage, a little area near Lyon, and is owned by the French food giant Bongrain. Although it seems like we’ve been hearing of it more than ever in recent months (and, yes, we’ve addressed it a bit before in this article detailing chocolate types), the company was founded awhile ago: in 1922, to be precise, by a French pastry chef Alberic Guironnet.
But Valrhona has definitely been on the receiving end of more attention than ever, especially in the States. The company maintains the Ecole du Grand Chocolat in Tain-l’Hermitage which trains over 800 students and publishes 100 new recipes per season for yummy pastries, desserts, and chocolates along with two other schools in Paris-Versailles and Tokyo. And, in 2015, they extended their company’s reach and opened the pastry school Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn in NYC.
What makes it special?
Basically, not only does Valrhona make expensive-as-all-hell chocolate, they’ve approached the art of making chocolate with a very hands-on process, including to monitor everything in their line of production, including how the cacao is grown and refined into chocolate. Valrhona only uses cacao made from their own plantations in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in which their employees oversee.
Plus, they make sure all of their chefs are highly trained, an initiative which they’ve been able to promote successfully through their many school locations. They make sure their chefs are all masters of taste, which basically means they’ve learned how to enhance the flavor of cacao without allowing sugar or anything else to overpower it (unlike Cadbury, in which sometimes it seems the only thing you can taste is sugar…). The taste is ultra rich and chocolate-y, and if you’re a cacao snob like me, you’ll be absolutely obsessed (that’s a promise…).
Where you can find it
You could go online and buy it off their website (and while it’s not unaffordably expensive, per se, it’s much more than your typical £1 Cadbury bar), but it’s probably better to try their chocolate in one of the thousands of delicious pastries created from the recipes that the Valrhona schools release. The good news is, if you can bake, you can access their recipes here and make some with the chocolate you can purchase from their website.
Enjoy, cacao lovers.