Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and everyone knows that chocolate is the official candy of this lover’s holiday. However, chocolate is so much more versatile than most people realize. If you’re thinking of baking with chocolate for that special someone, you are in the right place. We have plenty of delectably sweet ideas for the use of chocolate and don’t mind sharing them with you.
This year, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and do something different and original. Chocolate baking is not as intimidating as it sounds. There are some super simple and easy recipes that utilize chocolate that will have your sweetie feeling loved.
Types of chocolate
First, let’s start by covering some serious chocolate territory. There are several types of chocolate and all of them are good for baking.
The type you chose to use depends on your taste preference or what the recipe calls for, but generally, the main types of chocolate are white, milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened. Quality, the origin of cacao beans, process, and the mixture is what further separates the types of chocolate you’ll find in the stores. We’ll break this down a little more:
Its off-white color comes from the fact that no non-fat ingredients are included in this type of chocolate. This chocolate is made with vanilla, sugar, cocoa butter, milk, and emulsifier, with a mild flavor.
One of the most popular types, this chocolate contains 10 – 20% cocoa solids, including cocoa butter, and is typically only used in baking cookies.
This type contains a high amount of cocoa solids with very little to no milk. It comes in semi-sweet, bittersweet, or unsweetened version.
Sweet dark chocolate
This type is very similar to semi-sweet chocolate and is often used interchangeably in recipes. It contains 35 – 45% cocoa solids.
This classic dark chocolate is usually used in baking and contains 40 – 60% cocoa solids. Its pleasant and sweet flavor is perfect for brownies, cookies, and cakes.
Good quality bittersweet chocolate usually contains 60 – 85% cocoa solids and very low sugar content. This adds to the richness of any recipe that calls for it.
This type is almost 100% cocoa and is only used for baking.
How to use chocolate
Now that we’ve covered the basics of chocolate, it’s important to know how it’s used in baking. Chocolate comes in several different forms that include bars, chips, and powder, to name a few.
When recipes refer to “cocoa”, they expect you to use baking chocolate, which is designed to melt under heat. Baking chocolate that comes in bars, that are unsweetened, are often used as a base to brownies, cakes, frostings, puddings, and other of your favorites. Yet, you can still use bittersweet and semi-sweet as alternatives.
Chocolate chips are typically used in cookies. They do not melt as easily. That’s why you will find them in ice creams, muffins, cookies, and other pastries. They are not used as a base for pastries.
Cocoa powder is often used in cakes, cookies, brownies, hot cocoa, and frostings. The use of cocoa powder depends on what the recipe specifically calls for and what other ingredients are added. For recipes that do not call for baking soda or baking powder, it does not matter which kind of cocoa powder you use.
However, there are two specific types that include Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder. Dutch-process cocoa powder does not react with baking soda and is usually paired with baking powder in recipes. Natural cocoa powder is used in recipes that call for baking soda.
Ready to go
It’s important to remember that all baking chocolate is tempered in a factory. It is a process that gives chocolate a smooth shiny finish. Chocolate that is tempered well will not melt on contact and requires melting to be used in recipes.
So, by now you should be ready to make that cake, brownie, or fudge you’ve been thinking about for Valentine’s Day. Do you have a favorite recipe, or are you not sure what to bake for your Valentine? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for some chocolate baking ideas. We have plenty!