Baking Chocolate vs Dark Chocolate – The Differences

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Guide

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At a first glimpse, the appearance of baking chocolate is almost identical to dark chocolate, but take one bite and you will soon realise that the two ingredients hold very distinct differences. Knowing the correct chocolate can be the be all or end all to your perfect goodies and desserts, which is why the information in this article could really help you turn your chocolatey treats from average tasting to deluxe. All chocolate, from milk to dark, from white to baking, contain different ingredients, and these ingredients are what ultimately separates one from the other and gives them all their own purpose within our recipes and foods. Today I am going to look into the differences between baking chocolate and dark chocolate, and then find out a bit more about how these differences can help us to use them to their maximum potential when gaining that delicious, rich, chocolaty taste and texture.

Table of Contents

Dark Chocolate

What is dark chocolate made up of?

To create almost all chocolate (excluding white chocolate, as this is a product of cocoa butter and sugar), producers mix milk based products with sugar and then gently combine with chocolate liquor, also known as cocoa liquor, and cocoa powder. Cocoa liquor is created when cocoa nibs are ground to create cocoa, and the heat from this causes the cocoa butter to liquify. Dark chocolate, sometimes known as ‘semi-sweet chocolate’, is made with a higher percentage of cocoa, which creates the rich flavour. This is why you often see percentages on dark chocolate, as they are an indication of the levels of cocoa powder used when producing – the higher the percentage, the more intensely flavoured the chocolate will be. As the percentage increases, the sugar mass and dairy input also reduces. As a result, dark chocolate is more bitter than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate usually contains anywhere around 10% to 50% pure cocoa mass (liquor), and the rest is made up of dairy products, cocoa butter, and on average it contains around 5g sugar for every 100g chocolate. In contrast, dark chocolate usually ranges from 70% to 100% cocoa based and usually the sugar can vary from 2g to 4g for every 100g of chocolate. Obviously this is subject to brand, but on average we can see that the sugar levels in dark chocolate are a lot lower, and the cocoa mass is a lot higher.

What does dark chocolate taste good in?

Dark chocolate works well in almost all chocolatey desserts, but does bring with it a sweeter taste than using cocoa powder or baking chocolate. The presence of the cocoa butter allows for it to be creamier. Dark chocolate can work well as chips or chunks in treats such as brownies and cookies. Although the taste is more bitter compared to milk chocolate when eating the chocolate itself, when put into foods and recipes, this bitterness shines through the other ingredients and works a lot better to bring out the chocolate flavour that we are really looking for. Alongside this, the rich, but sweet flavour means that it is ideal for more raw recipes, such as a chocolate torte  or ganache, where less sugar is required. As these are often served with fruits or creams, this helps to balance out the rich flavours, yet it won’t overpower and remove that deep, chocolaty taste.

Baking Chocolate vs Dark Chocolate_Alices Kitchen

Baking Chocolate

What is baking chocolate made up of?

As the name suggests, baking chocolate (sometimes called ‘cooking chocolate’ in recipes) is a product produced specifically created for baking and cooking use. It is created using only ground cocoa nibs, and so is 100% cocoa mass. It can often be referred to as unsweetened or bitter chocolate when finding it in the shops – giving even more indication to the type of flavour you can expect. With absolutely no sweeteners or sugars added, it is about as sharp as chocolate can get. Some bitter chocolate may contain a small amount of sugar, however this will not impact the flavour. The lack of added ingredients means that baking chocolate can provide the purest, richest chocolate flavour when later added to recipes, and usually the recipes will call for some form of sweetener which will help to balance out the bitter flavour. The absence of any dairy or sweetener means that the chocolate is extremely pure, resulting in quite a chalky and crumbly texture.

What does baking chocolate taste good in?

Unlike dark chocolate, the overpowering, dense flavour of baking chocolate means that it shouldn’t be used as chocolate chips or chunks in your baking. The bite into this chocolate, whilst being completely okay to eat raw, is not recommended. However, the rawness of the chocolate, and the flaky texture as previously mentioned, means that it is ideal for melting through your recipes and bringing out the richest of flavour. It also melts well into butters and creams when being used for sauces. Although baking chocolate can substitute other chocolate in your usual recipes, it is not recommended to use it as a substitute in chunky, chocolate recipes, as the bite of the chocolate is not enjoyable. It is recommended to use baking chocolate in recipes that also require sweeteners. You can use baking chocolate melted through your brownies and cookies, and it will provide a much richer, heavier flavour than your usual recipes, but the addition of the butter and sugar will help to lighten this, whilst allowing the chocolate flavour to still burst through. Similarly, baking chocolate shavings are perfect for topping your desserts with, as they really pack a punch, but in such small doses they won’t take over the rest of the dish. Similarly, it can also be melted and combined for sauces and glazes, as the combination with cream or butter can help balance the flavour and create a really delicious texture.

Can I Use One Instead of Another?

As both provide a very rich flavour, one can easily be substituted for another. It really all comes down to your preference on how rich you like your desserts, but also depends on what you are making. As previously mentioned, baking chocolate is not enjoyable to eat on its own, and so it would not be recommended to replace dark chocolate with baking chocolate when the recipe is using the chocolate as a chunk or a chip. In these instances, your best bet would be to replace the dark chocolate with milk, or white chocolate if you do not have any dark chocolate available.

Similarly, if your recipe requires baking chocolate because it requires that super-deep, gooey flavour, then although you can use dark chocolate, it may be better to create your own replacement with one of the following methods:

3 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening for every 1-ounce unsweetened baking chocolate, or

3 level tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening, butter, or oil for every 1-ounce unsweetened baking chocolate.

If you are unsure of the cocoa powder you have, or the differences between them, you can find out more about that here.

The Key Take-Aways

So, whilst providing a similar flavour and texture, it is important to know the outcome you would like from your dessert, and to understand the different ways in which you can achieve this depending on the chocolate you choose to use. Whilst interchangeable in recipes, it is not recommended to eat baking chocolate on its own. For richer chocolate cakes, cookies, and brownies, you can use both, but dark chocolate will bring that extra element of sweetness. For your more bitter, indulgent desserts, whilst dark chocolate will suffice, you should try to stick to baking chocolate, or create your own substitute. Either way, the higher the cocoa mass, the richer the flavour, so take from it what you will and get that scrumptious, melt in the mouth dessert that really hits the spot and fulfils your chocolate desires.

Baking Chocolate vs Dark Chocolate_Alices Kitchen

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is Baker’s chocolate the same as dark chocolate?

 Baker’s chocolate – also known as baking chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and bitter chocolate – is not the same as dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is created using sugar, and in some cases dairy, whereas baking chocolate is purely derived from the cacao plant, resulting in a much stronger, bitter flavour.

Can I use dark chocolate instead of baking chocolate?

They can be used interchangeably but there will be a difference in flavour. Baking chocolate will bring a much richer, bitter flavour, whereas replacing dark chocolate with baking chocolate will provide a sweeter taste. It is important to understand the flavour you desire for you dessert. If you require a sweet dessert, then replace your dark chocolate with milk, and if you require a richer, more sickly flavour, then create your own substitution for baking chocolate.

Is dark chocolate better for baking?

Depends on taste and texture preference. Darker chocolate is sweeter and lighter, whereas baking is more bitter. Darker chocolate is also slightly creamier and can be used as chunks or chips in your baking, whereas baking chocolate is flakier and is better for melting through your recipes.

Is Baker’s chocolate good?

Baking chocolate is excellent for achieving that dark, rich flavour. If you are looking for a lighter, sweeter flavour, then you may be better using dark or milk chocolate.