It All Starts With Chocolate Alcohol
Cocoa is the dry chocolate powder derived from chocolate alcohol. It comes in two types: natural and Dutch process. Dutch processed cocoa is processed with an alkaline. It is somewhat darker, smoother, and more easily dissolved than natural cocoa. When you are baking at home, natural cocoa and Dutch cocoa are not interchangeable. Natural cocoa is slightly acidic and will therefore chemically respond with baking soda to develop carbon dioxide bubbles and some leavening power. Dutch cocoa is a little alkaline, will not react with baking soda, and should count on baking powder for leavening.
Bitter (unsweetened) baking chocolate is made from pure chocolate liquor. By spec, it must contain 50 to 58 percent cocoa butter though with inferior products, vegetable oil may he added. Depending on the producer, milk solids, vanilla, or salt might be added. I have a package in front of me which contains just chocolate and milk solids. Unsweetened chocolate has a bitter taste and relies on sweeteners in the dish to make it palatable.
Sweet baking chocolate– bittersweet, semisweet chocolate– has sugar included. These products should contain 35 to 50% cocoa butter however may have as little as 15% chocolate alcohol. Because unsweetened chocolate has two times the chocolate liquor, we prefer to use unsweetened chocolate in most of our baking.
Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate can be used interchangeably in recipes though there is a difference in flavor. Frequently, bittersweet is a more expensive chocolate and to many, a much better, richer-flavored chocolate.
Don’t Confuse Milk Chocolate With Sweet Chocolate
Milk chocolate is made with 10 percent chocolate liquor. It consists of a minimum of twelve percent milk solids. Because it has such a low portion of chocolate liquor, rarely is it melted and added to batter or mixes.
White chocolate includes no chocolate liquor but is made with cocoa butter. Historically, the FDA has not regulated the manufacture of white chocolate so you need to read labels carefully. If the product was made with grease instead of cocoa butter, it will not perform the same as a product with cocoa butter.
Chocolate chips are made with chocolate liquor with only very little amounts of cocoa butter. Instead, they are made with vegetable oil and stabilizers to help them hold their shape. Without the cocoa butter, chocolate chips have a different taste and mouth feel. Chocolate chips will have a firmer set in puddings, pie fillings, and sauces than baking chocolate. Chocolate chips can be purchased in milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.
Cocoa is the dry chocolate powder derived from chocolate liquor. Since unsweetened chocolate has twice the chocolate liquor, we choose to utilize unsweetened chocolate in most of our baking.
White chocolate consists of no chocolate liquor but is made with cocoa butter. Chocolate chips are made with chocolate alcohol with only minimal amounts of cocoa butter. Chocolate chips can be purchased in milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.