The quality of chocolate we use in baking is all-important in determining the quality of the end product. The proportion of high-quality beans in the blend is very important. The cacao tree’s seeds, or nibs, are used to make chocolates. They’re roasted and ground to make chocolate liquor, a liquid or paste that can be divided into cocoa butter and cocoa powder. The various types of chocolates in the market are made by adjusting the ratios of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and other ingredients. The FDA maintains industry guidelines for chocolate labelling to keep it legal.
The different types of Chocolates used for baking cakes are:
BAKING CHOCOLATE – This chocolate is used in baking. Often known as dark chocolate or unsweetened chocolate. There is no added sugar to this strong chocolate liquor, which contains 50% to 58% cocoa butter. Cooking and baking are the best uses for this product.
BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE – This chocolate has a bitter aftertaste. It’s the darkest of all chocolates for eating. It has the most intense chocolate taste and at least 35% chocolate liquor. Some luxury labels produce 70% cocoa butter and cocoa solids or more. It›s ideal for baking, cooking, and eating.
SWEET CHOCOLATE – It has more added sugar than semi-sweet, and contains at least 15% chocolate liquor. It’s best for cooking, baking, and eating.
COMPOUND CHOCOLATE – Compound or coating chocolate is a product made from a combination of cocoa, vegetable fat and sweeteners. It is used as a lower-cost alternative to true chocolate, as it uses less-expensive hard vegetable fats such as coconut oil or palm kernel oil in place of the more expensive cocoa butter. This also comes in dark, milk and white variants and is used in making confections, cakes, piñata, and garnishes.
COUVERTURE CHOCOLATES – The technical name for the type of chocolate used to make cakes, candies, bars is “couverture” and is made with cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla & lecithin. Dark, milk and white couverture are used to make a vast majority of cakes, gateaux and desserts. Favoured by candy-making pros. Contains at least 32% cocoa butter, which makes it very glossy and allows it to flow more easily when it›s melted and tempered. It comes in bars or coins called pistoles. It’s best for melting and baking.
MILK CHOCOLATE – To offer it a sweet and creamy flavour, it contains at least 10% chocolate liquor and at least 12% milk solids. This is the best for eating.
WHITE CHOCOLATE – Since it lacks chocolate solids, it is not considered “full” chocolate. At least 20% cocoa butter is present. Foodie Fact: White chocolate can no longer be branded as such when the cocoa butter is substituted with other, less costly fats; instead, it’s marketed as almond bark or confectioners’ coating. It’s ideal for baking, cooking, and eating.
COCOA POWDER – Can be sweet or bitter. Made by drying and grinding chocolate liquor and removing most of the cocoa butter, but must still retain 10% to 22% cocoa butter. «Dutched» or Dutch-process cocoa is treated with an alkalising agent to make it darker, less bitter, and more soluble in liquids. It’s best for baking and drinking.
COCOA NIBS – Cocoa beans are roasted and broken up to make this drink. Gives cookies and cake garnishes a crunch. It’s ideal for baking.
The writer is Chef and Founder of Star Anise Patisserie, Lokhandwala and Colaba.