One of the (oh so many) wonderful things about chocolate is that it comes in a lot of different forms. Whatever your baking project, there is a way to chocolate it up. You just have to know your choices and when to use each . And that's exactly what I'm here to tell you.
Baking chocolate (also known as unsweetened chocolate or bitter chocolate) comes in a bar, but it is no candy bar: There's no sugar in this and it is super bitter.
Basically, it's the essence of chocolate: solidified 100-percent chocolate liquor (the center of cocoa beans ground to a liquid) without added sweeteners, flavors and emulsifiers.
Baking chocolate comes in many varieties, including semi-sweet and milk. But unless your recipe says otherwise, use unsweetened in brownies , cakes, frosting and the like, adding sugar separately. This gives you the most control over the sweetness.
Conversely, don't use baking chocolate in recipes that don't mix it with sugar, like candy coating. And don't chop it up for chocolate-chip cookies. Just. Don't.
Dark Chocolate (Includes Both Semisweet and Bittersweet)
Dark chocolate is chocolate liquor that's been fancied up with extra cocoa butter, sugar, emulsifiers and flavorings. It retains a high percentage of cacao — anywhere from 65 to 99 percent. The higher the percentage, the less sweet.
There are several kinds of dark chocolate, all with different ratios of sugar to cocoa. None contain milk solids, which is excellent news for vegans.
Semisweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate are types of dark chocolate that contain at least 35 percent chocolate liquor. Bittersweet usually contains more cacao than semisweet, which is sweeter.
Dark chocolate can be eaten straight up or used in recipes for ganaches , icings, glazes and cookies. Semisweet should be your default for chocolate-chip cookies.
Some dark chocolate can be quite expensive. Reserve the really good stuff for recipes that let it shine, or for days when your mood needs a big lift. Or both.
Just like the name suggests, milk chocolate does contain dairy. It's commonly made by adding dry milk solids (like powdered milk) to the chocolate. At around 55 percent sugar and 20 percent cocoa butter, this creamy variety of chocolate is mild and quite sweet.
Milk chocolate melts easily, which is great when you're making something like s'mores. You certainly can use it in doughs and batters, but it's easiest to handle in no-bake recipes such as sauces, fillings or icings, or as a topping for already-baked treats.
One word of warning: Milk chocolate's high sugar content makes it sensitive to heat, so it may burn if you try to use it in recipes that call for semisweet chocolate. Be careful out there.
White chocolate is made of sugar, milk and cocoa butter, but without the cocoa solids. Its ratios are actually quite close to milk chocolate's, but the absence of cocoa solids gives it a creamy, ivory hue.
White chocolate's sweetness makes it a great addition to baked goods, which typically call for less sugar to compensate. But don't sub it in for dark or baking chocolate, as it may burn.
It's also wonderful as a candy coating or in icings and ganache.
These are the little "chocolate kiss"-shaped morsels that you stir into cookies — sold in dark, milk and white.
Morsels won't melt entirely; they're meant to hold their chip-like shape. So fold them into batter or dough or use as a topping.
Coating chips use vegetable fats to supplement (or replace) the cocoa butter. Technically, they're not really chocolate at all. They do have a slight chocolate flavor — though sometimes they can also taste waxy.
Chocolate coating melts well, so it's useful for making truffles, cake pops or other treats. It's also rather malleable, so it works well in shaped molds.
Cocoa Powder (Includes Dutch Process Cocoa)
Cocoa powder is made from ground cocoa solids that don't contain any cocoa butter. There are two key types: regular and Dutch process.
The regular variety is sold as sweetened (for hot cocoa and such) and unsweetened (the kind more frequently used in baking). This cocoa reacts with alkali ingredients such as baking soda, helping give baked goods a lift.
Dutch process cocoa (also sold as "dutched" or "alkalized") has been treated with an alkaline solution to neutralize acidity. This process darkens the color and makes the flavor more mild.