How is baking chocolate different from eating chocolate?
Are you baking with the right chocolate? Do you find yourself asking what type of chocolate should you use to make those cake pops, pancakes, or flourless torte? The options are endless! Traditionally, baking chocolate is designed to bake with, whereas eating chocolate is meant to be savored as on its own, but that is no longer the case.
You’re probably familiar with the chocolate chips. The chocolate chip is a great example of baking chocolate because its shape is purposefully created to hold its form when under high heat. This comes down to the chips having less cocoa butter in them. Cocoa butter is the fat that comes from the cacao bean and is what makes chocolate fluid at higher temperatures.
Even though baking chocolate is specifically designed to bake with (typically labelled simply as bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate), it often contains added sugar and unwanted additives. Especially the baking chocolate typically found on grocery shelves. This begs the question: Is baking chocolate healthy? It all comes down to the quality of chocolate that you source.
Assorted chocolate bars, like individually packaged chocolate bars that come in a plethora of flavors and baking bloc chocolate (large, thick blocks or bars) are all good choices if they are made by a reputable chocolate maker/chocolatier and have a shortlist of ingredients.
Dark chocolate should list cocoa mass or cacao bean (aka cocoa bean) as the first ingredient and should never include milk. These quality dark chocolates are Paleo friendly and naturally vegan as well. Plus these artisan chocolate bars are typically much more flavorful than commercially manufactured bars that you buy in the supermarket.
How do the best chocolatiers bake with chocolate?
One of the essential things to know is when to temper chocolate and when not to. Forte’s Master Chocolatier, Chef Karen is a leading expert in tempering chocolate. While tempering chocolate can be a tricky business, it can be relatively simple to do. Check out her “How to Temper Chocolate” blog here.
Keep in mind that melting chocolate is NOT the same as tempering chocolate. It is not always necessary to temper chocolate, especially when you are using it in a recipe as an ingredient, i.e. making brownies or chocolate cake. It is necessary to temper the chocolate for making the decorations or when needing solid chunks or pieces, i.e chocolate chip cookies..
Tips and Tricks from a Master Chocolatier
There’s always a way to change up a recipe. Keep the creativity flowing with some expert tips and tricks!
- Slightly burnt — Next time you’re melting chocolate and you end up getting it too hot and burning it slightly, don’t throw it out! Instead, save it to use in baked goods as a 325˚F oven needed to bake a cake will slightly burn the chocolate anyway.
- Origin switch — If your recipe calls for plain, old baking chocolate, try changing it up and using chocolate of a specific origin, like Peru or Brazil. Craft chocolate is perfect for this as the natural flavors found within chocolate are more intense. The finished product will taste like a completely different recipe without having to change anything else!
- Use savory chocolate — Using savory inspired cooking chocolate like Forte’s Gusto line of savory chocolate bars will not only add a new dimension of taste to your baked goods, they open up a whole new world of flavor possibilities.
- Incorporate cocoa nibs — Adding broken up cacao beans aka nibs into your baked goods will add a punch of chocolate flavor and a crunchy texture as well. Use nibs in the place of nuts anywhere you want a crunchy texture, i.e. in baklava or on the side of a cake.
Here’s a decadent chocolate torte recipe from Chef Karen for you to experiment with! This torte is a rich cake that has a lot of steps but is relatively easy to make overall. It is a thin cake but highly flavorful and filling! Serve thin slices like you would serve a cheesecake.
To see more “Advice from a Master Chocolatier” blogs If you need supplies, head over to your local chocolate maker or fortechocolates.com for high quality baking chocolate and chocolate bars to use.
Karen Neugebauer is internationally recognized as being one of the best chocolatiers in the artisan chocolate industry and is the owner and Master Chocolatier of Forte Chocolates, located about an hour north of Seattle in beautiful Mount Vernon, Washington. To get more information or to contact Chef Karen for custom projects/consulting services please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-982-2159.