- Published on April 11, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
What Beginners Need to Know About Baking with Chocolate
Chocolate is unequivocally delicious, which means it’s worth sneaking it into as many different recipes as possible. (We should know: At TCHO, our core product principle is flavor.) From brownies to cakes to cookies, the decadent treat goes well in a wide variety of baked goods.
The only downside is that baking with chocolate requires some technical know-how in the kitchen. Before tackling your next chocolatey baking project, beef up on these tips.
Not only does proper procurement ensure a better bake, but it also helps you do your part for the planet.
To that first point: Whenever you’re baking with chocolate, different forms are more conducive than others to specific baking projects. For example, baking discs (drops, coins, couverture, wafers, etc) of chocolate or cocoa powder may fare best in anything that requires melted chocolate such as, brownies and cakes, while chips are often well-suited to cookie and bread recipes. The percentage of the chocolate also matters—bittersweet chocolate is well-suited to rich tarts, for example, while milk chocolate does well in muffins. (The percentage you choose is also partly a matter of personal taste.)
All of this explains why TCHO offers a wide selection of baking chocolates so you can utilize the right product for your recipe. If you’re not sure which type of baking chocolate will perform best, it’s time to put on your scientist cap and do some experimentation.
When selecting chocolate for baking, it’s also important to look at where the chocolate comes from in order to determine its quality and environmental and social impact. At TCHO, we partner with cocoa farmers to help them develop sustainable practices and improve their livelihoods. Many of our chocolate products are organic, and many are Fair Trade certified. You can learn more about our sourcing and production methods on our FAQ page.
If you’re using large chunks, blocks or bars of chocolate in a recipe, a long serrated knife is the best tool for chopping up the chocolate quickly and easily. If you’re going to melt the chocolate (and if you’re baking, you probably will), this is a necessary step before the actual melting process because it helps the chocolate melt more evenly. Which brings us to the next point…
The trickiest step in most baking projects that involve mixing chocolate into the recipe is melting down the chocolate.
Once you’ve selected the proper form of chocolate (see above), it’s time to melt it. One of the most beginner-friendly methods for melting chocolate is to use a water bath. This allows you to observe the chocolate as it’s melting so you can keep tabs on the process. It also gives you more control than a double broiler or microwave, which decreases the risk of burning the chocolate.
No matter which melting method you choose, keep in mind the following:
- Chocolate is not a fan of heat. It’s important to melt the chocolate gradually on a low temperature so it doesn’t separate or get grainy.
- Be very careful not to get water on or in the chocolate. This can cause the chocolate to become thick and lumpy as it melts. (This is called “seizing.”) To avoid seizing, be sure to use bone-dry utensils and bowls, use a rimmed bowl to help ward off water droplets, and wipe off the bottom of the bowl as soon as you remove it from the pan of water.
- Once you’ve melted the chocolate, avoid adding it to very cold ingredients—doing so will cause the chocolate to harden up before you want it to.
- Be aware that milk and white chocolate are more prone to burning, so go extra slow when working with these products.
If you’ve purchased more chocolate than you can use in a single recipe, then you’ll need to find a place to store it until your next culinary adventure. To store chocolate properly, keep it in a dry place that stays relatively cool (below 75°F) and is not exposed to direct sunlight. Avoid storing chocolate in the fridge, as this has the potential to alter the chocolate’s texture and flavor.
Chocolate can be used to add flavor, texture, and decorative elements to any manner of baked goods. (Need some ideas? Check out our array of delicious, chocolatey baked goods recipes.) Armed with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to working comfortably with chocolate in the kitchen.