You can get an education about chocolate chip varieties with a simple stroll down the baking aisle of a grocery store.
Chocolate chips are small morsels of chocolate, manufactured in a round, uniform, flat-bottomed teardrop shape. They are available in different sizes, from large to miniature, but are usually less than 1 centimeter in diameter and also as rectangular chocolate chunks. They are the defining ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, considered by many to be the classic American cookie.
Once a unique cookie ingredient, "chocolate chips" has now become a
catch-all term for “baking bits” or “baking morsels,” indicating any confection
you add to cookie dough or other baked items. Today there are so many varieties
of baking morsels that choosing one can be tricky. Chocolate chip varieties distinguish
themselves from those designated as "flavored morsels" by containing two key ingredients: chocolate solids and cocoa butter (or
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: with a slightly bitter taste, this chocolate was the key ingredient in the very first chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate’s semi-sweet flavor is the classic contrast to the remaining very sweet ingredients in the cookie.
Bittersweet Chocolate Chips: with even less sugar than the semi-sweet, this chip is for chocolate purists. Packed with antioxidants and a bitter chocolate taste, bittersweet chips may actually help prevent heart disease. Too bad we can’t say that about the rest of the cookie.
Dark Chocolate Chips: another chocolate on a purist's list, it has slightly less sugar than semi-sweet, but more than bittersweet chocolate. When melted with butter, it is often used as a base in making a chocolate batter or dough.
Milk Chocolate Chips: the chocolate that most people think of when the very name is even brought up. They are velvety smooth made with the highest sugar content and whole milk. Sometimes this chip is thought to make the chocolate chip cookie too sweet, but that does not deter millions of chocolate chip cookie lovers.
Mini Chocolate Chips: these are adorable! Available only in semi-sweet flavor, the mini chip’s differentiation is its tiny size. They give cookies a chocolate chip flavor yet create a less bumpy texture than the standard size chips.
Chocolate Chunks: the very first batch of chocolate chip cookies actually had crudely chopped chocolate chunks. The actual chocolate chip did not come into the scene until 1939, six years after the chocolate chip cookie debut. Chop up your favorite baking chocolate bar and throw it in! Chocolate Chunks are a nice way to put some pizzazz in a chocolate chip cookie.
Mint Chocolate Chips: these are great in a chocolate cookie and also melted and spread on the top of brownies. They are created by adding mint flavoring to plain chocolate. As with white chocolate chips, check the ingredient list and look for chocolate components, or you are just buying mint candies (which is not a bad, but just truth in labeling.)
White Chocolate Chips: actually not an authentic chocolate because chocolate solids are a missing ingredient, nevertheless white chocolate chips are a perfect substitute add-in ingredient and a growing favorite among cookie bakers. True white chocolate chips contain cocoa butter. If cocoa butter is not listed in the ingredients, than the morsels in question are simply a baking confection (even though they likely taste delicious.)
Peanut Butter Chips: sweeter than actual peanut butter, these chips pair wonderfully with chocolate but of course contain no chocolate themselves.
Butterscotch Chips: like peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips contain no chocolate, but other ingredients like fats, sugars, and flavorings combine to make a butterscotch taste.
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