Couverture is the name given to a certain class of high-quality chocolate. All chocolate bars contain many of the same base ingredients—cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and perhaps additives like vanilla, soy lecithin, or milk powder. Couverture chocolate, unlike regular chocolate, is ground to a finer texture during the production process and contains a greater percentage of cocoa butter relative to the other ingredients. These two differences produce a superior flavor and texture that makes couverture the preferred chocolate for tempering and enrobing truffles, bonbons, and other fine candies.
In America, the precise standards for couverture chocolate state that couverture chocolate must contain a minimum of 35 percent cocoa solids and 31 percent cocoa butter. 31 percent is just the minimum amount and some couverture chocolates contain up to 39 percent cocoa butter. The more cocoa butter the chocolate contains, the more fluid it is when melted, which is why it is the preferred choice for tempering.
Using Couverture Chocolate
Couverture is ideal for tempering and dipping, and this is where it really shines. Use it in any candy recipe where you want a coating with a deep chocolate flavor, a beautiful shine, and a healthy "snap" when you bite into the candy. Use it to make chocolate bars, cover truffles, or make clusters or barks.
Can you bake with coverture? It depends. Since it contains a greater percentage of cocoa butter, it might behave differently in recipes that call for melted chocolate, like cakes or brownies. The different proportions of fat to sugar and cocoa solids might be a problem, depending on the recipe. In most cases, it's best to bake with a chocolate intended for baking and save the couverture for dipping.
Where to Buy Couverture Chocolate
You can often buy directly from a specific company's website or visit chocolate distributors like World Wide Chocolate, Chocosphere, or Gourmail. Amazon even carries some types of couverture chocolate!
Many fine chocolate makers produce couverture chocolate, including Amano, Callebaut, El Rey, Felchlin, Guittard, Lindt, Scharffen Berger, and Valrhona. There's not a "top" or "best" couverture chocolate to recommend, as it comes down to personal taste and preference. Our recommendation is to sample different brands over time, if possible, to find your personal favorite couverture.