Baking With Chocolate 101 … Say the word “chocolate” and you’re sure to get most people’s attention. Chocolate-flavored desserts and similar recipes are among many people’s all-time favorites, and the recent explosion in popularity of gourmet dark chocolates shows no sign of slowing down.
Baking with chocolate can be rewarding, either as special treat or for making day to day snacks for you and your family. Here is some basic information about chocolate to help get you started.
Know the Different Types of Chocolate: Baking, Dark, Milk, White, Cocoa…
There are several different types of chocolate that are commonly used in baking. Each is well suited for particular types of recipes, but not so much for others.
• Baking Chocolate (also known as “unsweetened chocolate” or “cooking chocolate”) is pure chocolate liquor that’s been combined with cocoa butter or other fat. The flavor is strong but not sweet, so it generally must be used in a recipe with additional sugar in order to provide a pleasing taste.
• Dark Chocolate is a combination of cocoa, sugar and fat (often cocoa butter). Dark chocolate is also known as “semisweet” or “bittersweet” chocolate, depending on how much sugar is used.
• Milk Chocolate is a chocolate that contains some milk, milk powder or condensed milk. Milk chocolate is popular in candy form, and most often used for baking as chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
• White Chocolate is a combination of cocoa butter, milk and sugar, but does not contain any cocoa solids or chocolate liquor.
• Cocoa Powder is a powdered form of cocoa solids from which all of the cocoa butter has been removed. Cocoa powder comes in two forms; natural cocoa and Dutch process. Natural cocoa is probably what we’re all most familiar with, while Dutch process has a milder taste that works better in certain recipes. In general, you may be able to use natural cocoa for recipes that call for Dutch process, but not vice versa.
Working With Chocolate
When you need melted chocolate for a recipe, don’t try to melt it in a saucepan on the stove – even if you use low heat. It’s too easy to burn chocolate over direct heat. Instead, use a double boiler, or just place the chocolate in a metal bowl and let that bowl float inside of a larger bowl filled with hot water. The lower the fat content in the chocolate you’re melting, the longer it will take. Finally, make sure no water finds its way into your melted chocolate during the melting process. Water can cause your chocolate to harden up and become unusable.
Get Creative. Take a few of your current recipes that use chocolate and try something new. Instead of milk chocolate chips, use dark chocolate. Try melting chocolate, and add a little shortening (approximately one teaspoon for every two ounces of chocolate) and you’ll have a great coating for fresh fruit, marshmallows, or even cookies. Don’t be afraid that something won’t turn out the way you want when you experiment – that just gives you a reason to try again!