Before you go that far, look over this short primer that will help you choose the best chocolate for your baking needs.
First Rule of Baking with Chocolate
Never bake with any chocolate that you aren’t willing to eat right out of your hand. According to the experts at St. Kitt’s Chocolate Factory, if it’s not scrumptious enough for a snack, it has no place in your recipe box.
What Format Should Do You Need?
Chocolate takes many forms, including:
- Cocoa powder
Bars are adaptable for many types of baking. It’s a simple matter to chop them up in the food processor into smaller pieces, which can be melted and added to cookie dough. They are fine for cakes, puddings, cookies and hot chocolate.
Wafers come in a disc-shape. Because they don’t have stabilizers, many cooks prefer them to chips for cookies and other baked goods. As a rule, you can find them in several varieties, like milk, semisweet, bittersweet and white. They work well in puddings, frostings, ganaches, glazes—actually any time you need chocolate.
Blocks are for cooks with a lot of baking to do. Bakeries routinely use them. As a rule, most home bakers wouldn’t know what to do with a big 2.2 lb. chunk of chocolate. But if you have a large baking project, it is the most cost-effective way to buy it. The baking gurus at Bon Appetit recommend that home cooks use serrated knives to cut off smaller chunks from these blocks. The shards are easy to melt or chop in the food processor.
Chips are handy, no question. Kids and adults love to grab a handful. They are simple to add to dough and for topping puddings and cakes.
But serious bakers tend to give them a miss because of the preservatives and stabilizers they are made with. They interfere with the true chocolate flavor and have a texture that is described as waxy. If you want chips, choose a high quality brand with few added ingredients listed on the label.
Cocoa powder for baking is always unsweetened. It works well for anything in the cake line, like brownies--and cakes. If making a chocolate baked good, use it to powder the pan before adding your batter. The type to get is natural cocoa powder, not Dutch cocoa powder. The process used for the Dutch type can make it react badly, or at least differently, with eggs and other ingredients. You cakes and brownies end up with a crumbly texture and your cookies might taste a bit like chalk.
The six big choices are:
Bittersweet has about 70% cocoa. For cooking, it is switched out with semisweet. This works best in recipes that are centered on the chocolate.
Semisweet has about 60% cocoa. You can often find it in chip form. It works well in all types of recipes.
Unsweetened works best when you melt it with other ingredients, especially cream and butter.
Milk chocolate has a bigger percentage of milk solids and sugar. When using it for baking, let it also substitute for part or all of the sweetener.
Dark chocolate has70% or more cocoa. The taste can be bitter. It works well in recipes with chocolate as the main attraction.
White is a combination of cocoa butter and sugar, without any cacao at all. It’s very sweet, but works great in cookies.
There you have it, a quick overview of baking chocolate. For chocolate lovers, any chocolate will do in a pinch. But bakers want to use the most appropriate form of chocolate for their recipes.