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Chocolate Defined

Chocolate Defined

The amount of chocolate liquor (unsweetened baking chocolate) delineates the labels of various forms of chocolate. Here's a look at the most common varieties.

Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

The paste made from ground, shelled, and roasted cocoa beans without sugar or any added ingredient is called chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor contains no alcohol, so the name is a bit of a misnomer. In its solid form, you know it as unsweetened baking chocolate. It has a harsh taste and is not meant to be eaten by itself.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Sweet Dark Chocolate

This category includes all chocolates, bittersweet and semisweet, that have at least 35 percent chocolate liquor.
The terms bittersweet and semisweet are often used interchangeably since there is no official distinction between them. Generally (but not necessarily), bittersweet chocolate is less sweet than semisweet, because bittersweet often contains more chocolate liquor. Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate are commonly used in baking, but both are also delicious to eat plain.

Sometimes packaging indicates the percentage of chocolate liquor prominently on the label, sometimes not. Although 35 percent is the required minimum, American bittersweet and semisweet chocolates found in the supermarket―such as Hershey's or Baker's―usually contain at least 50 percent chocolate liquor. It's not uncommon to find chocolate liquor contents from 60 percent or more in premium chocolates such as Callebaut and Scharffen-Berger. These have intense chocolate flavor and are excellent in low-fat desserts.

Milk chocolate

America's favorite snacking chocolate, milk chocolate is often used for making candy bars. Milk chocolate is lighter in color and has a milder, creamier flavor than dark chocolate. It must contain at least 10 percent chocolate liquor, at least 12 percent milk solids, and not less than 3.66 percent butter fat. Because of the milk solids, milk chocolate doesn't substitute for dark chocolate, as it will not give you enough chocolate flavor.

White chocolate

White chocolate is not really chocolate because it does not contain chocolate liquor. It contains cocoa butter, a derivative of chocolate liquor. Look for cocoa butter on the ingredient listing for quality white chocolate; if it contains palm kernel oil, it's white confectionery coating.


Let Them Eat: Hot and Spicy Chocolate Cake

"Most people in this office have probably heard me say that I adore Chocolove's Almond with Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar. But for a homemade chocolate indulgence there is nothing better, for me, than a chocolate lava-volcano-molten whatever ridiculous melty name you want to call it cake. There are a bunch of doctored-up versions on the interwebs but I most like the simplest version baked in ramekins, topped with vanilla ice cream of course." —Erin Adamo

Hot. Sultry. Picante. No, this isn't a Sofía Vergara-starring hot tub fantasy, it's a spicy adaptation of molten chocolate cakes for Valentine's Day.

Legend has it that Aztec emperor Montezuma devoured cocoa beans to lure the ladies. Whether chocolate's aphrodisiac qualities are mostly the stuff of legend is open to debate, although chocolate does in fact contain chemicals involved in lust and love. Either way there's no denying chocolate's slow, luxurious melt.

Molten chocolate cakes are defined by the moment the fork cuts into its center to release a thick flow of rich, dark lava. Ubiquitous on restaurant menus, the recipes for these mini-volcanoes are incredibly simple—chocolate and butter are melted then mixed with eggs, sugar, and flour. Make the individual servings by baking them in a standard muffin tin. The trick to the chocolate lava: bake the cakes until they're just set for a lusciously silky center.

My recipe at its core is run-of-the-mill, but as a love letter to Montezuma, I added a few layers of spice and insinuating heat. After experimenting with ingredients like cinnamon, black pepper, ground nuts, and even assorted dried chiles, the flavor almost matched mole poblano, the complex chocolate-based Mexican sauce that blends spicy, earthy, and sweet. Though a commercial edition, jarred mole is available in the Latin American aisle of most supermarkets and makes this recipe fit for an emperor.

Make them ahead: You can prepare the batter up to 24 hours in advance. All you need to do is pop the cakes in the oven when you're ready to serve.


Chocolate, as we commonly know it, is the product of a long refining process that begins with the fruit (cacao beans) of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground. Afterward, the resulting products include cocoa butter, a smooth, solid fat used in both food and cosmetics, and chocolate liquor, or ground roasted cocoa beans.

The types of chocolate that come from this refining process is determined by the various amounts of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor the chocolate contains, as well the amount of sugar and any other ingredients added to the mixture.


Healthy Chocolate Recipes

It’s American Chocolate Week, and you don’t have to break your healthy diet to enjoy it with these healthy chocolate recipes.

Whip up a simple and indulgent Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse that will impress anyone.

These tasty No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars are the perfect kid-friendly treat.

This Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt Bark is a cool, refreshing treat when you’re craving ice cream.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake is a great replacement for your sugary boxed cake mix.

Image and Recipe via Sunkissed Kitchen

Treat yourself with these beautiful Raw Chocolate Raspberry Slices.

Skip the candy bar with these healthy and easy Chocolate Coconut Balls.

Image and Recipe via iFood Real

Skinny Double Chocolate Banana Muffins are a great way to start your morning if you have a sweet tooth.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup cold vegan buttery spread (such as Earth Balance®)
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • ½ cup brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, whisking until smooth. Cut in buttery spread using a pastry cutter or 2 knives until it is the size of small peas and flour mixture is evenly coated.

Pour soy milk, coffee, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the bowl. Blend with an electric mixer until smooth beat for 2 minutes more. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack or serving plate.


  1. Add the milk and heavy cream to a large pot or dutch oven and heat on medium to medium-high heat until hot but not boiling.
  2. Meanwhile in a heat-safe bowl, add the espresso powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the hot water and stir to combine. Set off to the side.
  3. Once the milk and cream are hot, stir in the sugar and chocolate. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate is melted.Then add in the espresso mixture and vanilla.
  4. If the hot chocolate cools at all, reheat on medium until hot, but not boiling.
  5. Ladle espresso hot chocolate into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel and/or sprinkles.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

Serving Size:

This calculation is for the espresso hot chocolate and does not include any toppings like chocolate syrup, caramel, marshmallows, whipped cream or sprinkles. All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on SimplyScratch.com should only be used as a general guideline.

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Dark Chocolate vs. Semisweet Chocolate Chips in Chocolate Chip Cookies


Semisweet chocolate chips are the default mix-in for most chocolate chip cookie recipes. Over the past several years, consumers have seen a huge increase in the variety of chocolate chips (and chocolate chunks) available at the grocery store as options for baking. One question I get asked frequently is whether it is ok to substitute one type of chocolate chips for another, and what difference it will make in the final recipe.

The short answer is that it is perfectly fine to substitute one type of chocolate chips for another in a recipe that calls for them. This is true for cookies, cakes, brownies and other recipes that call for mixing-in a quantity of chocolate chips. Most recipes call for semisweet chocolate by default, as those are still the most common type of chocolate chip, but some will make recommendations for milk or dark chocolate chips based on what the recipe author thinks tastes best in that recipe.

All chocolate is made up of cocoa solids – cocoa butter and cocoa powder – and typically includes sugar, an emulsifier and vanilla. Milk chocolate has milk solids added to it as well, while dark chocolate does not. Semisweet chocolate is not strictly defined (there is no exact amount of sugar to be called “semisweet”, though it generally means no more than 50% of the mass of the chocolate is sugar as opposed to “sweet” chocolates, where there is even more sugar) but it is essentially dark chocolate because it does not contain milk solids. Semisweet chocolates are not typically very sweet, but they are sweeter, not as intensely flavored and lack the bitter notes that some “ultra-dark” chocolates have. Semisweet chocolate gives a balanced flavor to most chocolate chip cookie recipes, adding just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate flavor. A darker chocolate, with more bitter cocoa notes than semisweet, will have a stronger presence in a cookie or cake and may overwhelm some of the subtle flavors in that recipe. Milk chocolate is typically much sweeter than either of these and can actually taste too sweet in a cookie or cake, as it does not add enough contrasting chocolate flavor.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut, such as Bob's Red Mill
  • 1 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste or extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet toast until darkened slightly and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, then finely chop.

Brush a 10-to-15-cup Bundt pan with butter dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a saucepan, stir together shredded coconut, cream of coconut, and 2 tablespoons flour. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and boil 30 seconds. Remove from heat, stir in pecans, and let cool completely. Meanwhile, stir together milk and vinegar let stand until curdled, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together remaining 2 cups flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat butter with sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk mixture, and beginning and ending with flour, just until combined. Beat in chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a spatula. Spoon coconut mixture evenly on top of batter in a ring, leaving an approximately 1/2-inch border all around sides and center. (It will sink down into the batter as the cake bakes.)

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in center of cake layer comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack let cool completely.

For the Glaze: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth (don't whisk or vigorously stir, which can create air bubbles in finished glaze).

Let stand until thickened slightly but still warm and thin enough to pour, about 5 minutes. Pour evenly over top of cake let stand until set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cake stand or plate slice and serve, or loosely tent with foil and store at room temperature up to 2 days.


Chocolate cake recipes

Indulge in these irresistibly chocolatey bakes. Our gooey and decadent collection includes classic chocolate cakes, rich tortes and elaborate showstoppers.

Easy chocolate cake

Master the chocolate cake with an airy, light sponge and rich buttercream filling. It's simple enough for an afternoon tea but special enough for a party too

Ultimate chocolate cake

Indulge yourself with this ultimate chocolate cake recipe that is beautifully moist, rich and fudgy. Perfect for a celebration or an afternoon tea

Chocolate fridge cake

Sophisticated and intensely chocolatey with a hit of juicy raisins and crunchy biscuit pieces, serve this decadent chocolate fridge cake as a teatime treat

Chocolate & raspberry birthday layer cake

Who could resist our chocolate and raspberry cake? Like a Victoria sponge but better, try budget-friendly frozen raspberries for the cream

Chocolate caramel cake

This rich cake makes an impressive centrepiece for any summer tea party

Double chocolate loaf cake

Chocolate and cake are two of our favourite things, so what's not to love about this indulgent cake?

Salted dark chocolate, rye & courgette cake

Not only are these chocolate squares a great way to use up a glut of courgettes, they're topped with rye crumbs and sea salt for a chocolate cake with a twist

Dark chocolate & orange cake

A dense, dark and devilishly delicious cake, this will be gone before you know it

Chocolate & sesame loaf cake

Tahini gives this cake a subtle nutty flavour that partners perfectly with rich chocolate. This recipe makes 2 cakes, so why not freeze one as a treat for another day!


Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Heather Dessinger 29 Comments This post contains affiliate links.

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

Do you love hot chocolate but not the ingredients found in pre-packaged versions? I mean, as tempting as this popular brands ingredient list sounds . . .

INGREDIENTS: SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

I think I’ll just stick with chocolate, milk, and other ingredients I can pronounce.

This hot cocoa recipe is easy to put together and makes a delightful gift for teachers, friends, grandparents, co-workers, neighbors, and whomever else you want to make smile. Put this mix in a mason jar with some butcher’s twine wrapped around the lid and – voila! – you have an instant gift that just about everyone will love. If you’re feeling like an over-achiever, you can even include homemade marshmallows.

Should I Use Cocoa Or Cacao?

I hear this question a lot. The answer is it’s really up to you. Cacao contains more antioxidants than cocoa, but it has a stronger – some say slightly more bitter – flavor. Those with an adventurous palate will probably enjoy the cacao. If you’re looking for something that reminds you of the pre-packaged mixes you grew up with, though, go with the cocoa. Or do a 50/50 mix of the two and make everybody happy!

(Note: If you go with cocoa I recommend using fair-trade dutch process. It’s better for you and the world we live in.)

This hot chocolate mix is easy to put together and makes a delicious gift for teachers, friends, grandparents, co-workers, neighbors, and whomever else you want to make smile. Put it in a cute mason jar and voila! You have an instant gift that just about everyone will love.


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