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What Chocolate to Use When Baking

Created October 9, 2019
Different variety of chocolate chips and chocolate pieces
If you’re reading this, you probably love chocolate just as much as we do, but you might be overwhelmed by all the options crowding the shelves of the baking aisle, so consider this your guide to baking with chocolate.
Chocolate comes in many different forms—chips, chunks, bars and powders. With all these options, which one should you use? And when should you use it? The Betty Crocker Test Kitchens have the answers. Whether you’re stirring together a batch of chocolate chip cookies or looking for the perfect dark chocolate bar to melt into a rich ganache, they can tell you how to select the perfect type of chocolate for your baking project!

Chocolate Chips

Essential for cookies, bars, quick breads and plain old snacking, chocolate chips come in many different varieties. With everything from white (not real chocolate, by the way) to dark chocolate, there’s a little chip for everyone to enjoy!

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips are the key ingredient to our Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies. We’re partial to semi-sweet chips, because they’re not too sweet nor too bitter in a dough that includes sugar. These chips are made up of dark chocolate and sugar and have no added milk ingredients.
  • Milk Chocolate Chips are lighter in color and much sweeter in flavor. They have a creamier and smoother texture than semi-sweet chocolate chips due to the addition of milk fats. If you prefer a sweeter, creamier texture of chocolate, swap these chips into any recipe that calls for semi-sweet.
  • White Chocolate Chips are a confection made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk fats. They actually do not contain any cocoa solids, but these creamy, ivory-colored chips do complement many baked goods, including one of our Christmas faves, M&M’s™ pudding cookies.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Necessary for almost every chocolate-based dessert, unsweetened cocoa powder comes in two types: regular and Dutch process. Regular cocoa can be substituted for Dutch cocoa, but don’t substitute Dutch cocoa for regular because leavening can be impacted. When recipes call for cocoa, use unsweetened baking cocoa, not hot chocolate mix products, which are sweetened and include additional ingredients.

  • Dutch cocoa powder is richer in flavor and darker in color. It is processed in a way that neutralizes the acid naturally occurring in cocoa, which results in mellower overall flavor. As stated above, you shouldn’t use this in place of regular cocoa. The alkalizing process it’s been through (to remove the natural acids found in cocoa) can affect the leavening agent and keep your baked good from rising properly. Dutch cocoa powder is just right in our extra-rich Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Regular cocoa powder is lighter in color and more acidic in flavor, so it delivers a purer chocolate flavor—with bitterness that’s almost akin to that of citrus fruit. It’s the perfect type of cocoa to use in our Chocolate-Cherry Chewies recipe.
  • Dark cocoa powder is a blend of both regular and Dutch cocoa. It can be substituted for regular cocoa. Just remember that your baked good will have more intense chocolatey flavor and a darker color than if it were made with regular cocoa powder. Our Flourless Chocolate Cake is a great example of recipe that can be made with either regular cocoa powder, or for the true chocaholic, with dark cocoa powder.

Baking Chocolate

Baking or unsweetened chocolate is sold in bar form. Recipes will often call for melting the bar before turning it into frosting, ganache or mixing it to batter—like in our Ultimate Brownies recipe. This type of chocolate will contain at least 50 percent cocoa butter. Baking bars also come in semi-sweet, milk chocolate and white chocolate and can be used in place of chocolate chips. You can also use these types of bars to create curls of chocolate—perfect for garnishing cakes, like Triple Chocolate-Tres Leches Cake. Find bars of baking chocolate in the baking section of large grocery stores.

So, now that you’ve got the story on chocolate, what will you bake? If you need some ideas, we recommend checking out Betty’s All-Time Best Chocolate Cakes or these 28 Indulgent Chocolate Desserts We Always Crave.

And if you’re ready to restock the rest of your baking supplies, the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens have more advice to share.