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Kinds of Chocolate to Use in Chocolate Cookie Recipes

In chocolate cookie recipes, chocolate is incorporated as an ingredient in the dough, blending it into the mixture to add flavor. Baking chocolate and cocoa powder are most commonly-used ingredients to make chocolate dough.

Other chocolate products – chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, chopped chocolate bars –also add flavor to the dough. Yet these chocolate products maintain their shape when mixed into a cookie recipe. Baking chocolate and cocoa powder, in contrast, become part of the blend to create chocolate dough for cookies.

Kinds of Baking Chocolate to Use in Chocolate Cookie Recipes

Kinds of chocolate in chocolate cookie recipes with The Cookie Elf

Baking chocolate blends into recipes and add flavor. It is cooled, hardened paste made from the cacao bean, comprised of cocoa solids and cocoa butter in about equal proportions. 

Found in the grocery store’s baking section, baking chocolate is usually sold in packages containing four or eight 1-ounce squares. Its purest form is unsweetened chocolate. Sugar, lecithin, and vanilla are added to unsweetened baking chocolate in varying amounts to produce bittersweet, semisweet, or sweet chocolate.

When baking chocolate is listed in a cookie recipe, use unsweetened baking chocolate unless ingredients specify "semi-sweet baking chocolate" or "sweetened baking chocolate."

Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

Unsweetened baking chocolate is 100% cacao, with cocoa butter comprising 50 to 58% of that total, accompanied by cocoa solids and a small amount of lecithin to coat cocoa particles and make them stick together. It contains no added sugar. By itself, unsweetened baking sugar tastes bitter – but when used as an ingredient in cookie recipes the chocolate adds a rich, deep taste to dough. Because it has few added ingredients, unsweetened baking chocolate melts uniformly.

Bittersweet Baking Chocolate

Bittersweet baking chocolate contains 60-70% cacao. Remaining ingredients include sugar, flavorings, and lecithin.

Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate

Semi-sweet baking chocolate (50-60% cacao) can be used interchangeably with bittersweet baking chocolate.

German's Sweet Baking Chocolate

Sweeter than other baking chocolates, German’s Sweet Baking Chocolate is 46% cacao, with sugar, flavorings, and lecithin as the remaining ingredients. The product was created by Samuel German in 1852 (hence the name.) Samuel’s thought was to combine sugar with the chocolate liquor (cacao) to make baking more convenient for bakers.

Kinds of Cocoa Powder to Use in Chocolate Cookie Recipes

In processing, cocoa beans are heated and pressed. When much of the cocoa butter melts and drains off, cocoa solids remain. The solids are finely ground and sold as cocoa powder.

Natural cocoa powder does not contain sugar. It is classified by the amount of cocoa butter it contains.

In North America, the most commonly-used cocoa powder contains 10-12% cocoa fat (designated as 10/12 cocoa.) High-fat cocoa (or breakfast cocoa) contains 22-24%% cocoa fat (22/24 cocoa), while low-fat cocoa contains less than 10% cocoa fat and fat-free cocoa contains less than 0.5% cocoa fat. The most-used cocoa powder in the European Union closely corresponds to its richest North American counterpart, clocking in at a minimum 20% cocoa fat (20/22 cocoa).

Natural cocoa is slightly acidic, leading it to react to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to create carbon dioxide bubbles and some leavening power.

Dutch process cocoa (“dutched cocoa,” “alkalized cocoa,” or “European-style cocoa”) is processed with an alkaline, such as baking soda or potassium carbonate, in order to neutralize cocoa powder’s normally acidic taste. Dutched cocoa is slightly darker and smoother than regular cocoa powder. It also dissolves easier.

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