All about Baking Chocolate

Perhaps you are familiar with this famous quotation:

"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles." - Anonymous

Or with Betty Crocker's famous line: "And above all...Think Chocolate!"

When it comes to baking cakes and cake decorating, chocolate is a crowd favorite, hence it's important to know all about the different types of baking chocolate.

Chocolate History

You will be fascinated to learn that Columbus not only discovered America, but Columbus brought cocoa beans back from North and Central America, where chocolate originated. The Mexican Indians were among the first to enjoy the charms of chocolate, in the form of a drink they called "cacahuatl," meaning "gift from the gods."

Types of Baking Chocolate

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is one of the primary ingredients called for when baking a chocolate cake and is considered the lowest fat form of chocolate. The addition of an alkali neutralizes chocolate's natural acidity to produce cocoa powder that is more mellow and mild in flavor and richer in color.

Baking Chocolate

Baking chocolate refers to bitter chocolate, which is sugarless and which is typically sold as one-ounce chocolate squares for baking. In a recipe which calls for baking chocolate you can substitute cocoa powder, which is considered healthier due to its being lower in calories and in saturated fat.

Semi-Sweet/Bittersweet Chocolate

With a cocoa content of over 50% and the highest amount of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, bittersweet/semi-sweet type of chocolate is easy to melt and is ideal for making chocolate confections, cake toppings, and other specialty deserts. It can also be used as a dark- or milk- chocolate substitute with little noticeable difference in taste.

Sweet/Dark Chocolate

This type of chocolate contains 15%-35% chocolate liquor and less than 12% cocoa butter and milk solids.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is what your average candy bar is comprised of and is the most popular form of chocolate consumption. When used in baking, its low chocolate liquor and high milk solid levels produce a mild, mellow chocolate flavor.

White Chocolate

Did you know that white chocolate isn't chocolate at all? It is comprised of cocoa butter, milk, sugar, and flavoring, however it contains no other chocolate solids.

How to Melt Chocolate

In order to prepare many specialty cakes, icings, frostings, and other toppings, baking recipes frequently ask for melted chocolate. Note that milk and white chocolates are not an ideal source of melted chocolate since their milk solids turn grainy and coarse when heated and lose their flavor.

•1) Using a double boiler, place chocolate overtop of boiling water until it melts. For faster/easier melting, cut your baking chocolate into small pieces first, or you can use store-bought baking chocolate chips.

•2) To melt chocolate in a microwave, place chocolate pieces in a bowl in a dry microwave for a number of seconds at an average setting. Do not use a high-power microwave setting to melt chocolate for baking.

Chocolate Recipes

There are myriads of chocolate cake and chocolate dessert recipes to choose from, as well as entire cookbooks devoted to chocolate and cake decorating with chocolate. Your mouth will water and your guests will marvel at your fine taste in cuisine when you produce specialty chocolate cakes such as German chocolate cake, chocolate strawberry shortcake, raspberry chocolate cake, and flourless chocolate cakes for those adhering to a special diet. Chocolate desert toppings include chocolate icing, chocolate frosting, melted chocolate drizzle, white chocolate chips, hot fudge chocolate sauce, and more.