How To Know Which Dark Chocolate You Should Use For Baking

Here's how to choose from among the many brands and kinds of chocolate.

IMAGE Auro Chocolate, Ghiradelli, Hersheys/Robinsons Supermarket

There are many brands and kinds of chocolate on the market. For baking, you want to choose one that you love the taste of. Chocolate actually has a distinct flavor and texture apart from the dark bittersweet and the luscious silky texture you love when melted. 

For many, the brands may not matter. The price maybe your definitive guide since chocolate is not a cheap ingredient. The taste may also be your guide since there is some chocolate that tastes better to you than other brands. 

Whatever your reason for choosing a specific brand, one thing is clear: dark chocolate is more than its label. Where before it was a matter of choosing between dark and milk chocolate and sometimes even white chocolate, today, you have the option to choose how dark your chocolate can be. 

To help you better understand dark chocolates and choose the right dark chocolate for you, you need to know what the different kinds of dark chocolate mean.   

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Photo by Ghiradelli, Hersheys/Robinsons Supermarket
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Chocolate labeled "semi-sweet" and "bittersweet" chocolate is dark chocolate.   

Yes, these are kinds of dark chocolate. These brands which don't advertise how much chocolate is in the bars (or chips as the case may be) can be made of chocolate that's as high as 70% cacao for bittersweet chocolate. The terms "semi-sweet" and "bittersweet" tell you how much sugar each kind may contain since the bittersweet chocolate will still have a bit of the natural bitterness of cacao while "semi-sweet" will have a balance of sweetness and bitterness. 

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Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips, 12 ounces, starting at P225.75, and Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, 12 ounces, starting at P289, are available at Robinsons Supermarket, Rustan's The Marketplace, Shopwise, and S&R Membership Shopping. 

Photo by The Marketplace, Auro Chocolate

Dark chocolate bars with percentages tell you how much chocolate is in the bar. 

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the more cacao it contains. The ingredients of these bars are usually simply cacao beans and sugar. "Cacao beans" mean cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and any other parts of the cacao bean that is used in the making of the bar. It may or may not also contain other small amounts of vanilla and other ingredients to make it taste better. Normally, the darker the chocolate or the higher the percentage of cacao is in the bar tells you how bitter it will be. (Chocolate naturally tastes bitter.) 

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So, if you love the delicious balance of chocolate bitterness and sweetness, try a 50% dark chocolate bar or around that percentage. If you love the bitterness of the chocolate and less sweetness, aim higher and try a 70% and higher. A 100% bar however will have no sugar added and is best for melting into your chocolate desserts.   

Casino 85% Cacao Intense, 100 grams, P125, The Marketplace; Auro 64% and 55% Dark Chocolate, 100 grams, P195 each, Auro Chocolate; Baker's Premium Baking Bar Unsweetened Chocolate 100% Cacao, P225, The Marketplace

Photo by courtesy of DTI-CITEM
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So how do you choose what kind of chocolate is best for baking? Here are other things to think about when choosing chocolate for baking:    

1 Taste it.

This is still the best guide when it comes to choosing the ingredient for you. If you taste it and like it, it's a great choice because if it doesn't taste good to you, it won't change when it's in your dessert. 

2 Check how sweet or bitter you like your chocolate. 

If you can't tell whether you like a bar of dark chocolate or not, another aspect you should take into account is how sweet you like the chocolate. This is the taste that may make it your choice. 

3 Notice the underlying flavors. 

We said that certain chocolate has distinct flavors apart from chocolate. Just like coffee and wine, chocolate is bound by the environment that the cacao pods were grown. That's why chocolate grown in South America tastes different from chocolate grown in the Philippines. This also means that cacao pods grown in Cebu will taste different from those grown in Davao. 

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To tell the differences, savor the chocolate. Take a piece and let it melt in your mouth. Try to find those other flavors, the fruitiness, the smokiness, and even the woody flavors that might be in the chocolate. If you can identify those and like it, you may have found the chocolate you've been looking for. 

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