Bittersweet Chocolate

Bittersweet Chocolate

Published by Chocolatier Jason Vishnefske on 3rd Sep 2022

Bittersweet Chocolate

Sometimes it can be tricky when you have to buy the chocolate that you’re going to use for your baking goods. Should I use bitter dark? How dark? Unsweetened? Here, we are going to divide these categories and I’ll recommend you my favorite kind of chocolate for all basic recipes!

There are four basic categories when speaking of chocolate colloquially (this is the perception of chocolate and the marketing lingo companies use and not the FDA definition which is very different than what chefs say and use in conversation): dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa powder. Where should you use each one? I’ll tell you my favorite and the way to use every one of these!

Dark Chocolate

This is also known as bittersweet chocolate, and it’s one of my favorite for baking treats like brownies, or an intense stout chocolate cake. Why? Because this chocolate is really intense in flavor and tends to be rich and creamy in texture too. It’s considered to be around the 70% cacao range and up in cacao solids, with just the smallest amount of sugar. I recommend using this kind when you want a strong chocolate flavor. The sweetener used in your recipe, usually sugar, honey, maple syrup… is going to balance the bitterness of the treat.

Also, this is my go to option for when I’m craving just a plain piece of chocolate. I always have dark chocolate at home because I like it better than eating a candy bar that contains chocolate as an ingredient of several ingredients. Eating high quality dark chocolate can satisfy cravings with smaller portions than other kinds of desserts.

I recommend you try this 72% dark chocolate to make fudge brownies and the best devil’s food cake

Semi-sweet Chocolate

You can find this chocolate version with about 60% of cacao content (although the FDA has a different definition, we are speaking here among the chocolatier community and the colloquial ideas of conversational chocolate). This one is really versatile and it’s not too different than dark chocolate (bittersweet chocolate). Even though I prefer the bittersweet one, sometimes I just have semi-sweet at home and I find myself using it for the same kind of recipes just lowering a bit the amount of sweetener of the recipe. Also, you can easily find this one in many presentations: chips, blocks, discs… It’s basically the best of both worlds. Semi-sweet chocolate is usually best when making hot chocolate - it tastes better. This is a coconut sugar sweetened semi-sweet chocolate that is outstanding and perfect for cooking all types of desserts:

Milk Chocolate

It’s sweet, creamy and delicious. It’s not bitter in taste and it pairs great with a huge variety of combinations. Remember those chocolate fountains that are used for parties or most chocolate bars and ice creams.

How could you use milk chocolate for your baking? Well, I like to pick this option to make basic recipes like chocolate mousse, creamy thick hot chocolate or pudding. You can also melt it and use it to decorate vanilla cupcakes, a banana bread, even some simple dark chocolate cookies. Using milk chocolate is a great way to add up a bit of sweetness to a recipe, and, in my opinion, the best to combine with peanut butter. It’s all about balance.

My favorite to have at home

Cocoa Powder

As a chocolate lover and someone who enjoys playing around with dessert recipes, my pantry is never out of unsweetened cocoa powder. For me, this one and the semi-sweet chocolate are the most versatile to cook with while the bittersweet chocolate is my go to for eating and making the real gourmet desserts.

With this cocoa ingredient, just talking about basic recipes, you can make: cupcakes, chocolate sponge cake, buttercream, hot chocolate, smoothies, mix it with your oatmeal, brownies, cookies and many others. It’s important to clarify that I’m talking about the classic unsweetened cocoa powder which is not sweet at all, it just works to bring chocolate flavor to recipes, the sweetness of the recipe needs to come from other ingredients.

Because this is such an important ingredient for chocolate flavored recipes, I like to use high quality organic cocoa powder. This is a fantastic one to have:


Chocolatier Jason Vishnefske