The other ramification of the fact that this is a cooking chocolate is that its texture isn't as good as typical eating chocolates (the good ones, anyway). When I look at the fresh cut facets on the slab of chocolate after I've cut some off, I can see tiny light-brown dots (cocoa butter) amid the very dark body of the chocolate itself [note: this may be partly due to the fact that the supply of Callebaut in my pantry is over a year old. I bought a couple of pounds when I bought it and haven't used it up yet]. However, I don't find this to be much of a drawback for two reasons. One, the chocolate itself is so damned good. Two, it's a very crisp, brittle chocolate (when served at the proper temperature, anyway), so when you chew it, it breaks up nicely and quickly delivers the flavor. Besides, if you're going to the trouble of flaking it off of a larger piece of chocolate and eating it with a spoon, you've pretty much abandoned any concerns over texture in pursuit of taste.
You've probably noticed that I don't give many chocolates ratings over 4. Well, this is one of them. If you like dark chocolates, you'll probably think that this is really really good stuff. I certainly do. I'll warn you, it's way out there on the bitter end of bittersweet. There's enough sugar in this chocolate to keep eating it from being an unpleasant experience, but that's about it. If you let a spoonful of this melt in your mouth, what happens is this: first, the chocolate melts and you get a wonderful rush of chocolate flavor. At this point, the sugar is covering for the natural bitterness. Then, as the chocolate melts away, your tongue gets accustomed to the bitterness so it isn't unpleasant. Afterwards, you're left with a wonderful chocolate aftertaste that lasts quite a while. A suggestion, though, if you're going to sit and eat a lot of this chocolate at once, have a glass of water handy; this chocolate does make you thirsty.
Comparing this chocolate to the other 5 ranked chocolate, Valrhona's Noir Amer, I find this one to be a
little bit better. The Valrhona definitely wins in terms of
convenience and percent cocoa, but the Callebaut wins in terms of
flavor and texture (oddly enough). This is a richer tasting
chocolate, which I think is due to it having more cocoa butter than
the Valrhona. I picture the enjoyment v.s. percent cocoa curve as
looking something like this:
There's an ideal, Olympian chocolate out there somewhere that just hits the top of the curve. Maybe someday I'll find it. Both the Callebaut and the Valrhona chocolates approach the peak of the curve, but from different sides; Callebaut from the less cocoa, richer flavor side, and Valrhona from the macho, "how strong can you take it?" side. In my opinion, the Callebaut comes closer to the top.