Using Chocolate in Baking (Complete Guide)

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Baking with chocolate may either be a lot of fun or a complete mess. My objective here is to offer you great confidence in being in the first group, since working with chocolate should always be enjoyable. If you’re reading this, you’re probably acquainted with artisan chocolate, sometimes known as bean to bar chocolate. For those who are unfamiliar, this sort of chocolate is recognized for being more ethical, openly sourced, and delicious than its generic rivals. As a result, it’s the ideal baking chocolate!

Artisan chocolate is also more accessible than ever, both online and in person. Some of you may even be able to get it at your local health food shop. The advantages of baking using handmade chocolate over regular chocolate are comparable to buying at a farmers market rather than picking up an apple at the convenience store; there is just no comparison.

Consider it a method to assist small, often local companies while also reinforcing transparent and conscientious supplier chains. Artisan chocolate manufacturers spend around double the market price for cocoa, and they are far pickier about what qualifies a cacao to be used in one of their creations.

If you have similar preferences, try using craft chocolate in your next baking project. Continue reading to find out how to bake with chocolate and how to avoid the most typical errors.

Chocolate Baking Techniques

Baking chocolate and cocoa powder are not the only chocolate components. There’s also cocoa butter (cacao bean fat), cacao nibs (cacao bean bits), and chocolate chips. The latter are available in white, milk, and dark variations. Most recipes that call for common components, such as chocolate chips or cocoa powder, will taste better if prepared using higher quality versions of these items. Therefore, although I would advocate using more deliberately produced chocolate for all of your baking requirements, I understand that isnt always a possibility, so these recommendations are more general.

  • Before buying any chocolate product, look for a cacao percentage on the package to confirm you’re getting the right type of chocolate (see below). If there isn’t a percentage, you can also look at the grams of sugar per serving, then divide that by the grams per serving to get a rough idea of how sweet it is & possibly learn cacao percentage.
  • Make sure you’re buying roasted cacao nibs, not “raw” (they won’t have that typical chocolaty flavor unless they’re roasted).
  • Expect a bit of a learning curve when it comes to things like the viscosity of chocolate when tempering, replacing nuts with nibs, and even substituting cocoa butter for other fats.
  • Oh yeah, there’s this thing called tempering— it’s basically when you heat, cool, and then reheat chocolate to the same temperature in order for its fat (cocoa butter) to form V crystals. If your chocolate is out of temper, it will be notably less glossy and may even be crumbly in texture.
  • There are two ways a chocolate comes out of temper: fat bloom and sugar bloom. Fat bloom is caused by changes in temperature which ruin the dominant form V crystals that were keeping the chocolate’s shape, while sugar bloom is caused by exposure to water, which then dissolves the sugar. Both cause a whitish, almost dusty-looking film to form on the chocolate.
  • There are three things that chocolate contributes to your creations beyond its luscious flavor: it absorbs moisture, adds structure, and gives texture, so keep each of those in mind when choosing chocolates for baking.
  • Make sure you buy natural cocoa powder and cocoa butter, otherwise you lose most (if not all) of the unique flavors in each product.
  • Chocolate expiration dates are quite variable, and if stored properly, chocolate can last several years past its best-by date.

Baking Chocolate Varieties

When you’re gazing at a lump of melted chocolate, it’s too late to inquire what % cacao it is, so make sure we ask when we’re getting our supplies. Baking chocolates come in a range of percentages and combinations, so it’s critical to understand how they vary. The first are white, milk, and black chocolate, the latter of which includes no cocoa solids and instead just cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. Since dark chocolate includes no milk and just cacao and sugar, it provides the strongest chocolate taste. The cacao percentage simply indicates how much cacao is present in the chocolate (rather than sugar, milk, or fillers).

Baking with Chocolate (Dark)

100% Cacao

This chocolate is also known as Bakers Chocolate, which might be confusing since it is also the name of a Kraft Foods brand of baking chocolates in different percentages. When purchasing baking chocolate, be sure you choose 100% chocolate, often known as chocolate liquor or unsweetened chocolate.

Chocolate with a bitter aftertaste (Dark)

60-80% Cacao

Despite the name, you are unlikely to find this to be a bitter chocolate, since most bittersweet chocolate seldom exceeds 65%. This chocolate should be used for a chocolate glaze or a no-flour chocolate cake.

Chocolate with a semisweet flavor (Dark)

45-59% Cacao

This is the sort of dark chocolate found in most bags of commercial chocolate chips, and the high sugar level helps them keep their form when you need them to. I seldom encounter dark chocolate with less than 45% cocoa since the cacao-to-sugar ratio skyrockets, but German Sweet Chocolate is a nice example of a semisweet chocolate on the low end.

Chocolate Milk

28-45% Cacao

A dark milk chocolate chip (cacao content 45%+) is hard to come across, but as a real chocolate fan, I’ve come across a handful. Most milk chocolate chips, on the other hand, are closer to 30-35% cacao, with a sweetness level comparable to semisweet chocolate but the potential to caramelize due to the milk powder.

Dark Chocolate

25-40% Cacao

Most white chocolate chips contain roughly 30% cacao, although many goods that seem to be white chocolate chips are not. Some use an oil combination as the foundation (rather than cocoa butter), while others use cocoa butter as the base plus a few fillers to spread it out. Since they can’t legally call them white chocolate, they come up with inventive names like white baking chips.

Where Can I Purchase Baking Chocolate?

There are many locations to purchase artisan chocolate online no matter where you reside. The most crucial consideration is that you are purchasing tasty, yet ethically and openly made, chocolates. Following are some detailed considerations for baking using cacao-derived products such as chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter. Cacao and cocoa are the same term in several languages, and I use them interchangeably in this piece.

Baking with Chocolate (& Couverture Chocolates)

Blocks of 100% chocolate, also known as chocolate liquor or cacao mass, are often referred to as baking chocolate. Yet, this is deceptive since any chocolate you bake with is technically baking chocolate. Nevertheless, the name “baking chocolate” refers mostly to pure unsweetened chocolate, while varying percentages of dark, milk, and white chocolates are marketed in blocks for home baking.

Nonetheless, you will most certainly come across the phrases couverture chocolate and compound chocolate (coating chocolate). Compound chocolate is a low-cost chocolate product produced from sugar, cocoa powder, and vegetable oil. Couverture chocolate, on the other hand, is often manufactured with better quality cacao and additional cocoa butter, allowing the chocolate to melt more readily for coating delicacies or producing truffles.

Depending on what you’re preparing, you’ll need a baking bar of either ordinary chocolate or couverture chocolate. But, most local chocolate manufacturers would gladly sell you huge amounts of their chocolate at a discount, so buy locally whenever possible.

Belu Cacao, Bar Au Chocolat, and Dick Taylor are three places to acquire huge blocks of handmade chocolate (most of these makers will also ship internationally for a large enough order).

Baking Chocolate Chips

Although you could technically manufacture your own handmade chocolate chips with some careful cutting, pre-made chips have their advantages. Most chocolate chips on the market not only contain more than twice as much sugar as their handmade counterparts, but they also lack taste depth. Handmade white chocolate chips are more difficult to locate, but numerous firms have launched their own lines, with some even producing salted caramel or blonde chocolate chips.

If you want to create the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, use milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet. This is due to the fact that milk chocolate chips caramelize and mildly crisp in a hot oven, and many companies utilize less sugar in their milk chocolate chips than in their semisweet chocolate chips. They’re also fantastic for adorning a chocolate cake since they generally contrast well with the color of the chocolate icing.

Craft chocolate chips are available from Dandelion Chocolate, French Broad Chocolate, Bar & Cocoa, and Mindo Chocolate (among others).

Nibs of Cacao (Cocoa Nibs)

Although cocoa nibs aren’t the most popular component in chocolate baking, they are an underappreciated food. You can ground them into a liquid and add sugar to produce a less-processed sort of chocolate, but they also make great decoration! Cacao nibs may also be used in lieu of nuts in many recipes, particularly if you pick a cacao with strong nutty overtones. Overall, nibs are a nutritious fermented snack that is a perfect option for folks who are allergic to nuts and have a sweet craving.

Where to get cacao nibs: If you can’t locate a local handmade chocolate maker to buy nibs from, Bar & Cocoa and Chocolate Alchemy offer some of the best selections of excellent taste nibs available. Blue Stripes Cacao also sells cacao nibs and a range of cacao pulp-based delicacies.

Chocolate Powder (Cacao Powder)

You may select from a variety of cocoa powders, just as you can from a variety of chocolates. This is because cocoa powder is often seen as a byproduct of cocoa butter pressing, most commonly for aesthetic purposes. Nevertheless, like any other kind of chocolate, not all cocoa powders are made equal. Look for the phrases dutched and alkalized, which indicate that the cocoa powder has been severely processed to remove antioxidants and flatten the taste.

Look for natural or naturally pressed cocoa powders, and consider purchasing them from a craft chocolate maker. When purchased from a producer, they often contain a considerably greater percentage of cocoa butter, as well as being pressed from ethically produced cocoas. But, keep in mind that natural unsweetened cocoa powder will have a deeper and more powerful taste, making it ideal for chocolate beverages and sauces.

Maverick Chocolate and Mindo Chocolate are two places to get high-quality cacao powder.

Chocolate Butter (Cacao Butter)

Cacao butter is a high-density, mostly saturated fat. The cacao seed (or cacao bean) is made up of about 50% cocoa butter and melts at body temperature. This implies that it is solid at room temperature, which makes it useful for cosmetic applications, but it may be challenging to deal with as a baker. It is also low in histamine and inflammation, making it a better fat source than other oils.

If you want to replace a little amount of butter or oil in a dish with a chocolatey substitute, this is the way to go. It’s also excellent for cooking meat. Those searching for other, more cosmetic applications for any residual cocoa butter should look for high-quality products.

I strongly advise you to get your butter from an artisan chocolate producer. They’re selling the same material they use in their goods, and it’s not only of the greatest quality, but it’s typically hand-pressed from organic and directly-sourced cacao.

Meridian Cacao and Chequessett Chocolate are two places to get food-grade cocoa butter (if you live outside of the Americas, I suggest you contact a local chocolate maker and ask about buying a small quantity of cocoa butter from them).

Chocolate Baking Inspiration

A craft chocolate subscription box, such as the one offered by Spoon & Pod, is one of many different methods to include more craft chocolate into your baking routine. Make single origin brownies, chocolate-dipped caramels, or a flight of truffles using various artisans’ interpretations of the same origin. Here are some additional ways to include more handmade chocolate into your ordinary sweet and savory dishes:

  • grill meat on the stove top with cocoa butter rather than conventional cooking oil
  • replace some of the chocolate chips or nuts in a recipe with cacao nibs
  • use out-of-temper or older chocolate bars to make a chocolate sauce you can keep in the fridge

Best Chocolate for Baking from a Grocery Store

You may not always have the time to place an order for chocolate chips, nibs, or whole chocolate bars. Or maybe you’re at the grocery store and decide to bake chocolate chip cookies on the spur of the moment. This is the area for you. How do you pick amongst the few alternatives available in a grocery store? If you can make it to a one, Whole Foods sells a range of ethical chocolates.

For the rest of us, the solution is to look at the ingredients rather than the brand names. Cacao is the first component in a high-quality chocolate chip, or cocoa butter if it’s milk chocolate. Guittard Chocolate is normally my go-to at a health food shop, but I’ve also heard excellent things about the keto chocolate brand Lilys. A high-quality chocolate will have no added oils, preservatives, or lecithins. If cocoa powder is one among the components, you know you’re looking at one of the lowest-quality chocolates available.

Although the quality of the cocoa used is important and affects taste, if health is your major concern, choose chocolate with the greatest cacao content (typically about 60-65%). In the instance of a chocolate bar, 100% chocolate is intended for creating brownies or cakes rather than consuming on its own. Remember why you’re purchasing chocolate, and that you’re seeking for cacao, not cacao-flavored sugar.

Save this chocolate baking tutorial for later!

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