"Callets" may not be a familiar term, but all it means is that this chocolate comes formed in large, equally-sized drops. Buying callets is great because it eliminates the need for chopping large blocks of chocolate, and all of the pieces melt quickly and evenly. This dark chocolate has a smooth, fluid melt and a wonderfully dark, rich flavor.
When I need milk chocolate for baking, these Callebaut callets are my choice. Callebaut chocolate isn't too costly, but the quality is outstanding, with a rich flavor and perfect texture for dipping and enrobing. Buy callets means I don't have to chop my chocolate, and the small pieces melt quickly and easily. Watch out: it tastes so good, it's also a great chocolate for eating plain!
I've learned the hard way that it pays to spend a little more for good sugar. In the past, I've tried buying cheaper store brand sugars that aren't specifically cane sugar, and they just don't provide consistent results for candy making and sugar work. I'm now a pure cane sugar convert and recommend that you become one, too!
I use chocolate candy coating all the time, and one of my favorite brands is Merckens. Candy coating is a useful shortcut when you don't want to temper chocolate for candy making, so I always keep a big bag on hand in the kitchen. Candy coating hardens quickly and produces shiny chocolate-covered candies that have a satisfying snap. Some varieties are thick and gloopy when they're melted, but Merckens always has a texture that's not too thick and not too thin--perfect for dipping chocolates and molding candies!
Hands down, my award for MVP of the nut world would go to hazelnuts. They may not be the cheapest, and they may be the devil to skin, but their flavor is my absolute favorite. I love making my own hazelnut butter by blending hazelnuts and a bit of oil in the food processor, then substituting hazelnut butter for peanut butter in recipes. Chopped hazelnuts are also delicious in cookies, brownies, and other baked goods.
Oh Nutella, I wish I could quit you! Try as I might, I just can't stop buying (and eating) the classic hazelnut-chocolate spread. It may not be the healthiest, but dang is it good on a piece of toast. It's also a favorite baking ingredient of mine! It adds excellent flavor to mousses, ice creams, tarts, cupcakes, spoons, fingers...basically anything.
Special desserts call for special ingredients. When I want to pull out all the stops, I turn to Valrhona cocoa powder. It's not cheap, but it's my favorite for adding dark, intense chocolate flavor with lots of depth and no bitterness. For everyday use, I like Cacao Barry cocoa powder as a more affordable option.
When I want high-quality cocoa powder without a high price tag, I turn to Cacao Barry Extra Brute. It delivers a strong, rich chocolate flavor and produces delicious cakes and brownies. Best of all, it's one of the most affordable of the "gourmet" cocoas, so I always keep a big stash of it in my kitchen.