White chocolate, dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, couverture? What are the different types of chocolate about and what are they used for?
One of the problems is that different types of chocolate products have a variety of names, which leads to alot of confusion.
Here is information to help you overcome any confusion.
Plain Dark chocolate
Often called "luxury, "bitter", "continental" "unsweetened" chocolate. Bitter chocolate has a high level of cocoa solids, usually around 50 - 75%. It has little or no added sugar.
Its rich intense flavour and rich dark colour makes it an ideal ingredient for use in the commercial making of higher quality cakes and desserts. And it is better for you!
For more information to help decide which is your favourite chocolate to use for baking, go to gourmet chocolate tasting guide.
This contains powdered or condensed milk and generally around 20% cocoa solids. The flavour is mild and sweet. Although this is the most popular eating chocolate, it is not as suitable for melting and cooking as the plain or bitter sweet chocolates available as, dont forget, when you add other ingredients in your recipe you are diluting the chocolate flavour too.
Ordinary plain chocolate is the most widely available "plain", "bittersweet" or "semisweet" chocolate, and is often the one used when home baking, though it does not give the best flavour. But this does depend on the percentage of cocoa solids in the bar, which can range from 30 to 70, so do check the label to see if it's worth cooking with, as the higher percentage of cocoa solids the better.
Does not contain any cocoa solids, but gets its mild flavour instead from the cocoa butter. It is very sweet, and a good quality white chocolate is rich and smooth.
Be careful when melting white chocolate as it is much more difficult to use; being more delicate than plain or dark chocolate, it cannot to stand the heat so well. When cooled white chocolate does not set as hard either, so the result is not as crisp as when using plain or milk chocolate.
This is the real professionals choice. This is a fine quality pure chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter, which gives it a high gloss finish on cakes when used for decoration and an intense high quality chocolate flavour when used for baking. It is also used extensively when making hand made chocolate candy, and when used for cake decorating.
It contains no fat other than cacao butter and has a high proportion of cacao solids.
See the gourmet chocolate tasting page for information on the most popular makers of couverture chocolate, Valrhona, Cocoa Barry and Lindt.
Before use in candy making, couverture chocolate needs to be tempered for decorating and dipping handmade chocolates. For making chocolate molds and for dipping biscuits and decorating rich chocolate cakes with a high gloss coating.
If you are using couverture to mix with other ingredients such as when making a chocolate mousse or cake, then you use it directly as you would any other type of chocolate.
It comes available in plain, milk, and white chocolate variations.
This is the product after most of the cocoa butter has been extracted, it's pure cocoa mass. The mass is then roasted, and ground down to make the fine powder. For more information on the proceses involved in making chocolate products go to the from how to turn cacao pods into chocolate bars page.
Using good quality cocoa powder is the most economical way of adding the chocolate flavour to your baking. It is also kinder on the calorie front, as it does not add fat to the recipe while adding the flavour, like using couverture does.
For other low fat recipe ideas go to low fat dessert recipe page.
While for methods for making chocolate cakes with cocoa powder, go to the chocolate cake recipes page.
This is often more expensive than other types of chocolate as it is made without pesticides and with consideration for the environment. It is usually quite high in cocoa solids and is a better quality product.
Chocolate powder is used in baking and for making hot chocolate drinks. It contains lower cocoa solids content than pure cocoa, and has a much milder and sweeter taste.
This is couverture chocolate with added vegetable fat. This means that it does not need the tempering to work with that couverture requires. But what you gain in making it easier to work with, you do lose in the quality of the flavour and in the professional glossy finish that couverture would achieve.
Bakers chocolate also has a higher sugar content. Baking chocolate is used in commercial baking, for lower quality chocolate cakes and biscuits.
These are small pieces of chocolate of uniform size. They contain a lower level of cocoa solids than ordinary chocolate products. They are available in plain, milk and white chocolate flavours.
Chocolate flavoured cake covering
This is a blend of sugar, vegetable oil, cocoa flavouring. The flavour is poor, but the high fat content makes it useful for cake decorating, as it is pliable. To improve the flavour it is possible to add a small amount of plain chocolate when you melt the flavouring.