HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHOCOLATE
Chocolate is made from tropical cacao beans, which are transformed by machines into a bitter, brown paste of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. When this unsweetened chocolate is combined with sugar, vanilla, and other ingredients, the result, of course, is heavenly. All chocolate comes from the tropical cocoa plant, but it's the way the beans are processed that determines the type. Each manufacturer makes chocolate with different proportions of cocoa and sugar, so it can be a fun taste-filled research to find your favorite variety. Here's what you need to know to cook, bake, or simply rip open that package and eat!
Mild and sweet due to the addition of dried milk solids, sugar, and cocoa butter giving it a mellow flavor. It's not a good choice for baking, though, since it's sweeter and not as chocolatey as other chocolates. Despite this, many cooks prefer to use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips in their cookies. Be very careful if melting milk chocolate, it scorches very easily. It's most often used in commercial candy bars - think Hershey!
Dark chocolate contains no milk solids. This refers to sweetened chocolate other than milk or white chocolate. Unsweetened, bitter, bittersweet, sweet dark, semisweet, and German are all forms of dark chocolate that contain various amounts of sugar and flavorings.
This is a sweetened chocolate that's heavy on the cocoa solids and light on the sugar, giving it a rich, intense chocolate flavor. Many pastry chefs prefer bittersweet to semi-sweet or sweet chocolate, but the three can be used interchangeably in most recipes. The amount of coca depends on the manufacturer, but all contain sugar and vanilla flavoring. The best contain at least 50% cocoa solids. I love eating it all by itself!
Also called unsweetened chocolate or baking chocolate. It contains no sugar or other added ingredients. Some call it chocolate liquor when it's melted. It is preferred by cooks in the know because you can control the sweetness and flavorings of this form of chocolate. You can substitute one ounce unsweetened chocolate with 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.
Cocoa powder is similar to unsweetened cocoa, only it's in a powder form and contains less cocoa butter. Dried cocoa beans are finely ground and sifted into a soft powder. Dutch Process varieties are alkalinized, making them darker and less acidic, and sometimes more flavorful. Cook's like cocoa powder because it allows them to make low-fat goodies, or to use fats other than cocoa butter. Cocoa's also used to dust candies and cakes.
Like milk chocolate, this is made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla. The only difference is that white chocolate doesn't have any cocoa solids. This ivory-colored delight is used by many bakers in a variety of ways. White chocolate scorches easily, so cook it gently. Bars and wafers usually taste better than chips. Avoid white chocolate that's made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. It's cheaper but not nearly as good.