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Chocolate Conversion

kitchengoddess's picture

I am trying to buy higher quality chocolate when I can afford it and/or when it is featured in a recipe.  I see that with some of the more expensive brands they talk about the percentage of cocoa, which I know what it stands for, but I don't know the equivalency with the typical lingo of semi-sweet/bitter-sweet, unsweetened etc.

I find that the labeled chocolate I see never says bittersweet it says semi-sweet, which threw me for a loop a long time ago but have it figured it out now.

Any suggestions?  Does the higher cocoa concentration mean less sugar?

Pielove's picture

chocolate (post #71226, reply #1 of 5)

Hi kitchengoddess!

Are you planning to bake with this chocolate, or eat it plain?  You are right that a higher percentage means less sugar and this can change the way it performs in baking.  I'm not sure that the "semi-sweet" and "bittersweet" designations are actually formalized, so one company's "semi-sweet" may have less sugar than another company's "bittersweet", but I think "semi" is generally the sweeter one.

If you're planning to "just" eat the chocolate, one fun thing might be to have a chocolate tasting party-- we did this a couple of years ago and it was fun.  The surprise winner was an unassuming Polish chocolate from Wedel-- which is kind of the Hershey's of Poland.  But some of the more well-known chocolates scored really low in our tasting.

If you're planning to bake with higher-percentage chocolate, check out Alice Medrich's cookbook "Bittersweet"-- she optimizes her recipes for the higher-percentage chocolates.  Also, check out this informative page:

 http://www.finecooking.com/item/5922/chocolate

pie

kitchengoddess's picture

so much to learn (post #71226, reply #2 of 5)

My question would be for baking recipes.  I do enjoy eating chocolate from time to time mostly I prefer chocolate baked goods.

I just see recipes or TV cooking shows that ask for the "best quality chocolate you can buy" for baking with it.  The only real brand of baking chocolate I have been able to find at the grocery store is either baker's chocolate or the generic brand.  I haven't ventured into the specialty stores...that might be dangerous! :)

Oh, a chocolate tasting party sounds good, but knowing a few of my friends I would have to charge $50 per person just to break even!! HA

I'll check out the book and the link.  Thanks!

Pielove's picture

Chocolate baking! (post #71226, reply #3 of 5)

Baking with chocolate-- sounds like fun!  Some recipes will probably be more forgiving than others-- do you have a specific project in mind?  

pie

kitchengoddess's picture

No project (post #71226, reply #4 of 5)

Hi pie,

  no project really just wondering in general.  For example the WW chocolate chip cookies called for good quality chocolate.  when I buy chocolate typically I buy "bakers' brand.  I don't know if this is "good quality" and when I try to buy something like a Lindt bar it doesn't say in "semi-sweet, bitter-sweet" etc.  so I don't know what to buy.  Lindt and a couple of other brands is what I would consider "good quality" but they are usually way out of the price range for the recipes...just trying to get a feel for when you would actually notice.

  Good call on storing a piece of bread with the WW cookies.  They softened up and even DH started sneaking a couple of them even though they were WW!!! :O

Pielove's picture

bread... (post #71226, reply #5 of 5)

Interesting-- I will have to try the bread thing too-- that was a tip in the FC recipe, not my idea.  Unfortunately, all I have now is half a jalapeno bagel.  I think I will add those ww chocolate chip cookies to my list-- they were good!

As for chocolate, when the chocolate is in chunks, as in those cookies, then it doesn't matter what percentage it is-- just get something that you enjoy eating out of hand (and can afford, haha).  The high percentage only can cause a problem if it is melted in with the ingredients, as in a flourless chocolate cake or something like that-- and even for that, some recipes will be more forgiving than others.  How does that sound?

Mmm, chocolate chip cookies!

pie