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Chocolate is made from tropical cacao beans, which are transformed by machines and an inveterate spelling error into a bitter, brown paste of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.  When this unsweetened chocolate is combined with sugar, vanilla, and other ingredients, the result, of course, is heavenly.

Chocolate's notoriously hard to work with.  If you don't store it properly (preferably at 65° or so), the cocoa butter can separate slightly from the solids, causing the chocolate to "bloom."  This leaves a telltale gray residue on the surface and impairs the taste and texture slightly.   Chocolate will scorch if you melt it at too high a temperature, or "seize" and become thick and grainy if you add even a drop of cold liquid to it as it's melting.  You can prevent it from seizing by adding hot liquids (like cream) to chopped chocolate in order to melt it, or by making sure that anything you're dipping into the melted chocolate (like a strawberry or whisk) is perfectly dry.  If your chocolate has seized, you can still use it in any recipe that calls for chocolate to be blended with a liquid.  Just add the liquid to the chocolate and melt it again.  

If you plan to melt chocolate, it's best to buy it in bars.  Chips contain less cocoa butter so that they can better hold their shape in cookies, but this makes them harder to melt and less tasty.  It's easiest to melt chocolate in a microwave oven.  Just break the chocolate into small pieces, heat it for 30 seconds at 50% power, stir, then repeat a few times.  Take it out of the microwave when the chocolate is almost completely melted, then continue stirring until the melting is complete.  If you don't have a microwave, use a double boiler.


American cocoa  See cocoa

baking chocolate  See unsweetened chocolate.

bitter chocolate  See unsweetened chocolate


bittersweet chocolate    Notes:    This is a sweetened chocolate that's heavy on the cocoa solids and light on the sugar, giving it a rich, intense chocolate flavor.  Many pastry chefs prefer bittersweet to semi-sweet or sweet chocolate, but the three can be used interchangeably in most recipes.  The best bittersweet chocolates contain at least 50% cocoa solids.     Substitutes:   semi-sweet chocolate  (Very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor.  To make semisweet chocolate more like bittersweet chocolate, add some unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder to it.) OR sweet chocolate



carob = St. John's bread = honey locust = locust bean    Pronunciation:  CARE-ub  Notes:   Carob is sometimes used as a substitute by those unfortunates who are allergic to chocolate, since its flavor is vaguely similar.  Others use it as a healthy alternative to chocolate, since it contains less fat and no caffeine.  It's available as raw pods, chips, and either as toasted or untoasted powder (toasting helps bring out the flavor).  Look for it in health food stores.  Substitutes:  cocoa powder (Most cookbooks call for cocoa to be substituted for carob measure for measure, but since cocoa has a stronger flavor, you should use less.  Cocoa powder has more fat than carob powder, and some caffeine.  Since carob burns more easily than cocoa, the recipe may call for a lower oven temperature than is necessary with cocoa powder.)


carob chips  Notes:  You can use these in place of chocolate chips in cookies or trail mix.  Substitutes:  chocolate chips


chocolate chips = chocolate morsels   Notes:   These are designed to go into chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and trail mixes.  Chocolate chips often have less cocoa butter than chocolate bars, which helps them retain their shape better when they're baked in the oven.  Avoid chips that contain vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter--they have a waxy flavor.   Substitutes:   chocolate bars chopped into chunks OR M&M candies (in cookies) OR nuts (in cookies) OR carob chips OR raisins OR chocolate-covered raisins OR butterscotch chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.) OR peanut butter chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.) OR white chocolate chips (If you're using these in place of chocolate chips to make fudge, use less fat in the recipe.)


chocolate curls = chocolate shavings = shaved chocolate    Notes:    This is a pretty and easily-made garnish for desserts.  The curls are fragile, so it's best to move them around with a toothpick.   To make your own:    Warm a square of sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet, white, or milk chocolate in the microwave at 50% power for about 30 seconds, then shave curls from it  using a vegetable peeler.  If the chocolate crumbles, it's too cold.   Substitutes:  Use a grater to grate chocolate onto the dessert you're garnishing. OR dust with cocoa


chocolate-hazelnut spread =  chocolate-hazelnut paste =  chocolate-hazelnut butter = gianduja paste = gianduia paste = pasta gianduja = gianduja pâté = gianduia pâté   Notes:  This is a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut paste that Europeans use like peanut butter.   Nutella is a popular brand.   Substitutes:   peanut butter


cocoa = cocoa powder = unsweetened cocoa powder    Equivalents:  1/4 cup cocoa powder = 1 ounce  Pronunciation:   KOH-koh    Notes:   Cocoa is similar to unsweetened chocolate, only it's in powdered form and has less cocoa butter.   Cooks like it because it allows them to make low-fat goodies, or to use fats other than cocoa butter.  Cocoa's also used to dust candies and cakes.   Dutched cocoa = Dutch process cocoa  = European process cocoa is treated with an alkali, making it milder yet richer-tasting. It's the preferred cocoa for beverages and frozen desserts, and for dusting baked goods.   Recipes for baked goods usually intend for you to use natural cocoa = American cocoa = regular cocoa = nonalkalized cocoa, which is more acidic than Dutched cocoa.   You can often substitute one type of cocoa for the other, but if the recipe includes baking soda, it may be counting on the acid in natural cocoa in order to react.  Don't confuse cocoa powder, which is bitter, with instant cocoa mixes, which are sweetened.  Substitutes: carob powder (Most cookbooks call for carob to be substituted for cocoa measure for measure, but since carob has a milder flavor, you might want to use more.  Carob powder tends to lump, so mix it into a paste first with a bit of liquid.  It also burns more easily than cocoa powder, so reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.) OR unsweetened baking chocolate  (One ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or oil.)


cocoa butter  Notes:  Pastry chefs add this to chocolate to thin it, usually so that they can pour a thinner coating on a cake.


compound chocolate coating = compound chocolate = chocolate summer coating = decorator's chocolate = confectioners' chocolate = confectionery coating = chocolate flavored coating = confectioners’ coating chocolate    Notes:    This is an inexpensive chocolate that's melted and used for dipping and molding.  Since it's made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter, it's much easier to work with than ordinary chocolate.  It also melts at a higher temperature, so it doesn't get all over your hands when you eat it.  The downside is that it doesn't have the rich taste and texture of regular chocolate.  Though it's considered to be a beginner's chocolate, it's still a bit fussy.  It can scorch if you cook it at too high a temperature, or seize if you add even a drop of cold liquid to it after it's melted.    Substitutes:  couverture chocolate (This has luscious cocoa butter, which makes it tastier but harder to work with.) OR compound coating (other than chocolate) OR chocolate hazelnut spread (This makes a good chocolate dip for strawberries.  Thin it with a little cream and warm it in a double boiler before dipping.)

couverture chocolate = couverture-grade chocolate = coating chocolate = commercial coating chocolate    Pronunciation:   KOO-ver-chure   Notes:   Couverture means covering in French, and professionals use this type of chocolate to coat candies and glaze cakes.  It has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than ordinary chocolate, which makes for glossier coatings and a richer flavor.  Available in bittersweet, semi-sweet, white, and milk chocolate.  It's expensive, and you may need to go to a specialty store to find it.   Substitutes:   compound chocolate coating (Not as rich and tasty, but easier to work with) OR ordinary chocolate

dark chocolate = plain chocolate = continental chocolate = luxury chocolate   Notes:  This refers to sweetened chocolate other than milk or white chocolate.  It includes bittersweet, semi-sweet, and sweet chocolates, all of which can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Dutched cocoa  See cocoa

Dutch process cocoa  See cocoa.

European process cocoa  See cocoa.


gianduja = gianduia = hazelnut-flavored chocolate   Pronunciation:   zhahn-DOO-yuh   Notes:   This Italian specialty is made with chocolate and hazelnut paste.  It's unbelievably good.   Substitutes:  milk chocolate

honey locust  Substitutes:  carob

hot chocolate mix  See hot cocoa mix


hot cocoa mix = hot chocolate mix = instant cocoa mix    Notes:   You need only add boiling water to this powdered mix and stir to make hot chocolate.  To make your own:   Combine 2 cups powdered milk, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer.  To make hot chocolate, mix one part cocoa mix with three parts boiling water. Substitutes:  Mexican chocolate

instant cocoa mix  See hot cocoa mix.

locust bean  Substitutes:  carob.

Mexican chocolate = Mexican style sweet chocolate   Equivalents:  1 tablet = 3.1 ounces  Notes:     This grainy chocolate is flavored with sugar, almonds, and cinnamon, and used to make hot chocolate and mole sauce. You can buy boxes containing large tablets of this in the Mexican foods aisle of larger supermarkets.  Ibarra is a well-respected brand.   Substitutes:  1 ounce = 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon OR  (in mole sauces) cocoa powder (Substitute one tablespoon cocoa powder for every ounce of Mexican chocolate called for in the recipe.)


milk chocolate   Notes:    If you're looking for a plain chocolate candy bar, this is your best bet.   It's like sweet chocolate, only it contains dried milk solids, which gives it a mellow flavor.   It's not a good choice for baking, though, since it's sweeter and not as chocolatey as other chocolates.  Despite this, many cooks prefer to use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips in their cookies.  Be very careful if melting milk chocolate, it scorches very easily.   Substitutes:  sweet chocolate OR semi-sweet chocolate

natural cocoa  See cocoa

nonalkalized cocoaSee cocoa.

Nutella  See gianduja.

regular cocoa  See cocoa

semi-sweet chocolate = semisweet chocolate   Equivalents:  One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.  Squares can be chopped up to make chips for cookies.  Notes:   Americans like this best for their cookies and brownies.   It's available in bars, chunks, and chips.  Mint-flavored semi-sweet chips are also available.   Substitutes:   bittersweet chocolate (very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor.) OR unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar) OR 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or vegetable oil (may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.) OR 1 tablespoon peanut butter chips OR white chocolate (especially in chocolate chip cookies; more delicate flavor, burns more easily, contains more sugar.) OR milk chocolate

St. John's bread  Substitutes:  carob


sweet chocolate = sweet dark chocolate = sweet baking chocolate  Equivalents:   One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.  Notes:   This is similar to semi-sweet chocolate, only it has a bit more sugar.  It can be used interchangeably with bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate in most recipes.   Baker's Chocolate calls its sweet chocolate German chocolateSubstitutes:  semi-sweet chocolate OR bittersweet chocolate OR 1 ounce sweet chocolate = 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate + 4 teaspoons sugar OR 1 ounce sweet chocolate = 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa + 4 teaspoons sugar + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.)


unsweetened chocolate = bitter chocolate = baking chocolate = pure chocolate = chocolate liquor   Equivalents:   One cup of chips = 6 ounces   Notes:   What kid hasn't sneaked a bar of this out of the kitchen, only to discover that unadulterated chocolate is bitter and unpalatable.  Some cooks prefer to use it over sweetened chocolate because it gives them better control of the sweetness and flavor of the product.     Substitutes:   cocoa (One ounce unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or margarine or shortening or vegetable oil.   Using cocoa may leave a powdery taste, but it usually makes the product moister and more flavorful.)  OR 3 tablespoons carob powder + 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon butter or margarine or vegetable oil (lower oven temperature by 25 degrees) OR semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar, so decrease the sugar in the recipe accordingly.) 

unsweetened cocoa powder   See cocoa. 

white chocolate = white baking bar    Notes:   Like milk chocolate, this is made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.  The only difference is that white chocolate doesn't have any cocoa solids.  Since the FDA won't let American producers label a product  "chocolate" unless it has those cocoa solids, domestic white chocolate is known by a hodge-podge of different names.  White chocolate scorches easily, so cook it gently.   Bars and wafers usually taste better than chips.  Avoid white chocolate that's made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter--it's cheaper but not nearly as good.     Substitutes:   milk chocolate


white chocolate chips = white chips  Notes:  These are used to make white chocolate chip cookies.  They contain less cocoa butter than ordinary white chocolate, so it's harder to melt them.   Substitutes:  white chocolate (cut into chunks) OR chocolate chips OR carob chips

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