Valrhona Dulcey vs Caramac: Fight!

Posted by in Features on September 11 2012 | Leave A Comment

This afternoon Valrhona launched their newest chocolate brand, ‘Dulcey’.

Dulcey is being marketed as a fourth kind of chocolate – “Blond chocolate” as opposed to dark, milk, or white. In actual fact it’s primarily caramelised white chocolate, which is something that has lead to many people comparing it to Nestlé’s Caramac – something that I loved as a child.

In preparation, I bought a couple of bars of Caramac to take to the Dulcey launch event at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. I felt horribly guilty carrying a sugary Nestlé product into a Valrhona launch, but I wanted to find out what other people thought about the comparison.

As it turned out, I needn’t have been too embarassed – during the speeches, Caramac was mentioned at least five times, although it was quite obvious that the French representatives of Valrhona didn’t really have a clue what Caramac was. I decided to educate them and shared my Caramac with Valrhona communications manager Diane Lefrançois.

She wasn’t impressed, and neither was anyone else. Some childhood memories are best left that way.

The first thing to note is that they have quite different ingredients. Caramac doesn’t actually contain any cocoa products, and is made primarily from vegetable fat, sugar and sweetened condensed milk.

Dulcey contains 32% cocoa butter and many other ingredients familiar to white chocolate, but it also contains whey and butter – something you’ll never find in real chocolate. So neither of these products are actually chocolate, but the Dulcey does have a fairly high percentage of cocoa products.

Comparing the two products side by side and you can immediately see the difference. Dulcey has a rich, caramelly colour, whereas the Caramac is pale by comparison. It’s also very, very soft. The Dulcey has a chocolate-like snap to it, but Caramac just bends and breaks.

Caramac’s texture is soft and grainy, a bit like fudge. Not having had it for years, I found it quite off putting. I’m so used to the clean, smooth texture of real chocolate that the Caramac I used to love just feels like the ingredients have been mixed together in a bucket.

Dulcey is ultra smooth and glossy. That’s because it contains so much cocoa butter and dairy butter. It melts like chocolate, but as it does it becomes intensely sweet. Even sweeter than the Caramac in fact. That was a surprise.

With the sweetness though comes a lot of interesting flavour notes. The caramel flavour is pronounced, and there’s a rich toffee note. Valrhona claim a natural salt note at the end, but I didn’t really pick that up. By contrast, Caramac has no real flavour at all.

In reality, there’s no comparison at all. Valrhona Dulcey is a million times better than Caramac. The comparison is inevitable, but they really aren’t the same thing. That said, Dulcey is way too sweet for me to eat on its own, so I was a little surprised that it’s being launched as a bar for consumers as well as a couverture. We tried a few desserts made with Dulcey, most of which were delicious, but I couldn’t eat more than a couple of pieces of Dulcey on its own because of that sweetness.

Pastry chefs are probably going to come up with some wonderful creations with Dulcey, but I could only recommend the bars to those with a very sweet tooth.

Information

Comments On This Post

  1. Wow, this is a very informative post. I love Valhrona chocolate, and – dare I admit it – I’ve always thought caramac was alright.

    I will definitely definitely have to try this!

  2. Being a chef and food writer I get many press releases across my desk including news about the launch of Dulcey. And by strange coincidence before I read this piece, I too had decided to do a comparison of Dulcey and Caramac.

    My thoughts and conclusions about Dulcey are very similar to yours about it having a very morish, buttery taste but being far too sweet to succeed as a chocolate bar for consumers.
    As for Caramac, I have the strong suspicion that the makers have greatly changed the recipe. It used to be a much darker colour and far less grainy when I was a child.

    Often when revisiting a childhood favourite we tend to explain away changes by assuming that our tastes have changed, when in fact it is the recipe that has been altered in a cost saving measure.

    As an example I would offer the fact the Cadbury’s (before the American buyout) lowered the coco mass % in its iconic Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, replacing it with palm oil.

    Ironically, Australian and New Zealand consumers complained with such fervour that they went back to the older version of the recipe, whereas in England the birth place of Dairy Milk has barely noticed it.