Have you ever baking chocolate and thought it was kind of bitter? That’s because it’s actual chocolate or cocoa that has not been sweetened.
The chocolate we’re used to eating, like chocolate bars, chocolate cookies, and other sweets, are all sweetened forms of cocoa.
Baking chocolate is a more natural form of chocolate that doesn’t have all the added sugar. That’s why it’s naturally bitter.
It’s meant to be used with sugar, stevia, honey, and other sweeteners to make it more palatable. I often make the comparison to coffee when I’m talking about baking chocolate to someone who’s unaware of what this is.
If you get a coffee drink from Starbucks or another big coffee chain, a lot of times those specialty coffees are very sweet, often including cream, sweetener, flavoring, and other ingredients. You don’t get that natural, authentic, bitter coffee flavor from those drinks.
It’s the same with baking chocolate, and most people wouldn’t want anything to do with it unless they’ve mixed it with a few other ingredients.
By comparison, a lot of people prefer their coffee with at least some milk or sweetener in it rather than just black.
If you were wondering “What is baking chocolate?”, I hope this gives you a better idea of its purpose and why it tastes so bitter.
I’ve covered just the very basics about this cooking ingredient, but now I want to talk about how you use it so it becomes more versatile and functional for you.
Is There More Than One Kind of Baking Chocolate?
If you look on grocery shelves, you may see a few different kinds of baking chocolate out there. You may see sweet and semisweet baking chocolate.
These are essentially the same thing as your standard baking chocolate for baking cocoa, but they have some extra sugar in there. They won’t be as bitter, so you won’t need to add as much sugar into whatever recipe you’re using.
Some people even use these baking chocolates as a snack to nibble on. You probably don’t want to do that with bitter baking chocolate.
When baking with these different kinds of sweetened chocolates, you can use them the same way in your recipes. Just know that they already have a little sugar, so they will make your food a little sweeter.
FDA rules require these sweet and forms of baking cocoa to be at least 35% cocoa. Unsweetened or regular baking cocoa has to be 100% cocoa according to those same regulations.
I thought you might want to know that if you’re interested in the technical difference between these different kinds of chocolate.
How to Melt Baking Chocolate
It’s really easy to melt the chocolate down to make a liquid chocolate or at least something gooier than the block of cocoa you get in the package. You can’t do this with the powdered stuff, though, so please be aware of that.
To melt down baking chocolate, just put it on a microwave safe dish and place it in the microwave for 30 seconds on high heat. After 30 seconds, give it a little stir and then put it back in for 20 to 30 seconds.
After every 30 second period or so, you can take the chocolate out and give it a little stir again. Once it starts to stir smoothly and cream, your chocolate has melted.
Once it cools, it may start to harden again, and you can just stick it back in the microwave for another 20 or 30 seconds to make it gooey once more.
How to Make Baking Chocolate
If you have powdered cocoa and you want to turn it into baking chocolate, you can do that very simply. The recipe I like to use to make baking chocolate at home is to take that powdered cocoa and mix it with some butter.
Each square of baking chocolate is supposed to be an ounce of chocolate. To make one yourself, combine three tablespoons of baking cocoa powder with one tablespoon of butter.
Mix it together until it’s well creamed, and then you’ll have an ounce of baking chocolate. You can use that freshly mixed chocolate in recipes the same way as you would in ounce of baking chocolate.
How Long Does Baking Chocolate Last?
Baking chocolate lasts a very long time. You will have to keep checking the date to make sure it’s still good. You can expect baking chocolate to last from the shelf in the grocery to your cupboards for about two years.
It can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge, and it shouldn’t be frozen if you want it to retain its original flavor.
If you leave the baking cocoa open at room temperature, that can shorten its lifespan. It robs it of some of its freshness and flavor, though it’s probably still good to eat for a long time afterwards.
It just might not taste as good. Try to keep your baking cocoa sealed and in a cool dry place to prevent damage and to help it retain its natural flavor.
What Is the Best Chocolate for Baking
You have a few choices when it comes to baking chocolate. You can choose bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and variations of these. They all have different levels of sweetness to them, but most people prefer semi-sweetened baking chocolate.
Chocolate tends to have about 65% cocoa content in it. So, there’s a lot of cocoa there, but it’s also not overly bitter. It has some sweetener, but not so much that it should be excessively sweet.
If you’re hoping to melt the chocolate easily, couverture chocolate is made for that very purpose. It melts easily and can be used for dipping strawberries or whatever you like to use melted chocolate for.
So, there are plenty of different kinds of chocolate and baking chocolate out there to choose from, but hopefully you feel a little more assured about which when to use based on what you’re trying to do.