What is the Difference Between Different Types of Chocolate?

Often when we attempt to undertake a fresh recipe or even dare to try creating truffles for the first time we stumble across specific words that can seem to be a little more mystifying than they ought to be. Chocolate is one great example of this, how many specific types of this ingredient are there when it comes to baking and what makes each one different to the other? Allow me to explain these terms for you.

Baking Chocolate – This is another word used to refer to “bitter” or “unsweetened” varieties. Baking chocolate is made up of roughly 50% cocoa butter. Recipes for cakes and frostings usually call for this particular variety of chocolate and it can be located in any neighborhood grocery store’s baking aisle and is sold in large blocks. Almost all recipes that ask for baking chocolate are referring to this type of 50% cocoa butter chocolate rather than a sweetened or semi-sweetened chocolate.

Bitter Chocolate – This term references the variety we talked about above and is often used interchangeably with the phrase “baking chocolate”. The “bitter” in this term comes from the fact that there is no sugar or other variety of sweetener in the chocolate and hence it reflects the bitterness of cacao. Chef’s and bakers use this variety of chocolate so that they are able to change the sweetness of their final products, catering to the other ingredients in each recipe.

Unsweetened Chocolate – This term is also references “baking chocolate” and contains 50% cocoa butter. The unsweetened variety projects the true bitter taste of cacao before any sweetening occurs.

Bittersweet Chocolate – This term references a dark chocolate with, on average 30% cocoa butter, 50% chocolate liquor and one that has been sweetened and flavored with sugar and sometimes vanilla. The bittersweet variety does not contain any milk – neither dried nor liquid. Some form of lecithin is frequently included in bittersweet chocolate as a method of preventing the separation of cocoa and cocoa butter.

Semisweet Chocolate – This term references the same combination of chocolate as the bittersweet listed above; however, the semisweet variety usually contains a lower percentage of chocolate liquor (35%.)

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