There are two types of bakers: those that already have something in mind and they go out to purchase the ingredients for it; and those that decide the recipe based on what they already have lying around at home. And if you are the latter, at some point or another, you may have wondered whether it is okay to use that forgotten chocolate bar for your chocolate chip cookies or brownies.
Technically, there is nothing wrong with using any old chocolate bar at home for your chocolate baking recipes – but you would not expect the results to be as great as using the specified type of chocolate, whether unsweetened baking chocolate, cocoa powder, or semisweet chocolate chips.
Don’t know the difference or why it matters? Here’s a brief explanation for the budding bakers out there!
Chocolate comes in various concentrations and sweetness levels. The darker the chocolate, the less sweet, more bitter, and more chocolatey it tastes. While it might be alright to use sweeter chocolate in place of a darker one, bear in mind that the chocolate also acts as a sugar substitute – so you may want to consider reducing the amount of sugar added.
This is chocolate in its purest form, with no added sugar or flavourings. It usually comes in a bar form and is not meant to be eaten on its own. Unsweetened chocolate is best for making rich and super chocolatey cakes, cookies, and brownies.
Dark chocolate, which contains about 60 to 75% cocoa, is considered bittersweet. Some sweeteners are added to balance out the bitterness of the chocolate, yet there is still plenty of chocolatey goodness.
Chocolates with 35 to 55% cocoa are usually considered semisweet. Most chocolate chips for baking are semisweet unless stated otherwise.
- Milk chocolate
Milk chocolates contain at least 10% cocoa and at least 12% of milk. The milk can be in the form of milk solids, condensed milk, or milk powder and contributes to a creamier taste. While it does not taste as chocolatey as dark chocolate, it sure is delicious and a popular choice for desserts and candies!
Form of chocolate
The common forms of chocolate asked for in baking are the solid bar, chips, or powder. These are usually not interchangeable as the ingredients and consistency are different.
- Chocolate bar
Chocolate bars are usually used for melting into batters or for making syrups, glazes, and fillings. They will melt under heat into a smooth, rich texture. While you can use a chocolate snack bar, those contain much more sugar and flavourings than baking chocolate and may not work in the way that is intended in the recipe.
- Chocolate chips
Chocolate chips contain more stabilisers and less cocoa butter to help keep their shape. It is usually not meant to melt totally during baking, so you can still have crunchy chips to munch on in your cookies. What that means is you probably won’t want to use chocolate chips to replace a chocolate bar for baking.
- Cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is sometimes used to flavour batter or as a topping dusted over baked goods. As the cocoa powder is a dry ingredient and melted chocolate is wet, you cannot simply swap out a chocolate bar with cocoa powder, as it will affect the consistency of your batter.
Not all chocolates are the same, as they have different flavour profiles and chemical properties that make them suitable for various purposes. If you are a beginner baker, we suggest sticking to what the recipe states rather than using a different kind of chocolate.
If you are craving more chocolate treats, our online bakery in Singapore also has some delightful desserts you can indulge in, including our chocolate swiss rolls, the decadent chocolate truffle cake, and dark chocolate muffins. Order today from our online cake shop in Singapore to satisfy your chocolate cravings!