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The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Chocolate

There are many types of chocolate, and not all are created equal — so let's take an in-depth look at chocolate to help you on your bold baking way!
Get the Ultimate Guide to the different types of chocolate

Hi Bold Bakers!

Information about the Types of Chocolate is not something we think we need, right? But as Bold Bakers, you need to know a few things. Not all chocolate is created equal! So, how do you know what to use and when to use it?

I have the answers! Let’s take a deep dive on the Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Chocolate and clear up any questions you might have about which chocolate is which and what you should be using in your baking. 

The Different Types of Chocolate

When it comes to baking with the different types of chocolate, you need to pay attention to what types of chocolate the recipe is calling for. Is it bittersweet? Or semi-sweet? Each chocolate is graded by its cocoa solid percentage. Knowing what the cocoa solid percentages actually mean will tell you exactly what type of chocolate you are dealing with.

These are fun facts about chocolate that every Bold Baker should know:

Milk Chocolate  (38 – 42 % cocoa solids)

Milk chocolate is most commonly known as “eating chocolate.” With more sugar added than other types of chocolate, it tends to be on the sweeter side — and less chocolatey.  Milk chocolate usually ranges between 38% and 42% cocoa but can have as little as 10% cocoa solids. If you don’t like your chocolate bitter then this chocolate is for you. This chocolate works great in my S’more Fudge recipe. 

Semisweet (52 – 62 % cocoa solids)

Semisweet chocolate is entry level for those who are new to the darker, more pronounced chocolate flavor. Most commonly found in chip form, they are a standard ingredient in most kitchens. With its sweet flavor and creamy consistency, it is a dream to work with. It melts easily, combines well with other flavors, and is fantastic for dipping. I use this chocolate in my S’more Cheesecake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie 

Bittersweet Chocolate (63 – 72 % cocoa solids)

This is my go-to chocolate. Darker and more pronounced in flavor than a semisweet, bittersweet is many chefs’ favorite. However, their higher cocoa solid percentage can make them trickier to work with. With a cocoa solid percentage ranging from 63 – 72%, I find that Bittersweet Chocolate has the perfect balance of bitter and sweet — which makes sense because just look at the name! I think this chocolate works best in my recipes for Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies and German Chocolate Cake 

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Unsweetened Chocolate (100% cocoa solids)

Unsweetened chocolate, as the name implies, is 100% cocoa solids with no sugar added. One taste will tell you that it is not meant to be eaten alone, believe me! I like to use a small amount of it in combination with semi- or bittersweet to add a depth of flavor. If you make the mistake of buying a 100% cocoa solids bar without realizing and need to use it up, throw a little into your baking. I usually do maybe 80% bittersweet and 20% unsweetened chocolate.

Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chips have additives and stabilizers to keep the chocolate from losing its shape. While this is great for cookies and toppings it’s not the best for making things like chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce. If a recipe ever calls for large amounts of chocolate to be melted, I always use a bar of chocolate. Use it in my Chocolate Brownie Cookies and my Triple Grands.

White Chocolate

Since it does not contain cocoa solids, white chocolate is technically not chocolate. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids or powder, and vanilla. It is much lighter in color than milk or dark chocolate because it contains no cocoa solids. The important thing here is that it is made with real cocoa butter, not some other imitation fat, which tastes nothing like chocolate. I love the add it to my Pumpkin and White Chocolate Lava cake and Chocolate Profiteroles. 

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is a mixture of the many substances remaining after cocoa butter is extracted from cacao beans. It’s a pantry staple for any Bold Baker!

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Unsweetened cocoa powder is pure chocolate with most of the cocoa butter removed. It has an intense chocolate taste and it is what I like to bake with on a day to day bases. I choose unsweetened so I don’t have to alter the sugar in my recipe. Try this in my Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe and Homemade Nutella. 

Dutch Process

Dutch process cocoa powder is chocolate that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to “natural cocoa.” Cocoa powders labeled “Dutch-Process” or “European-Style” have been treated to neutralize the naturally occurring acids, giving them a mellower flavor and redder color. Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leavener like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder. I love the color and flavor it adds to my Baileys Chocolate Pudding.

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44 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Chocolate

  1. Hi Gemma,
    You Said Chocolate Chips Do Not Melt Properly But They Actually Do.
    You Can Melt Them Really Well Even Better Than Chocolate Chunks, They Hold Their Shape While Baking And Turn Into Round Pockets.

    1. Hi there,
      well! chocolate chips are formulated to hold up well, to keep their shape in baking, just as you say.
      That means that they melt less easily than good chocolate – that meant at about 70% cocoa solids, though you can get a good result from chocolate of 50% + cocoa solids.
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Heyy! I’m making Mary Berry’s chocolate sponge cake chocolate cake today. She puts cocoa powder in her cake but the only thing i’ve got at home is dark cocoa powder and cacao powder! which do i use! Please reply because i’m making my cake this evening! thank youuu x

    1. Hi Harls. Sorry, I am only seeing this now. I would go with the dark chocolate in a cake, because the sugar, milk, and butter should counterbalance the bitterness of the cocoa. I hope this is of help.

  3. Hi Gemma, you are awesome, I am your ardent ever since I first watched your video. It will be great if you could share some info on how to make chocolate from cocoa/cacao beans, from the scratch

  4. Hello Chef..
    I am from India. I make chocolates at home(new to this field) weather here is hot and humid. After moulding my chocolates I have to put it in fridge else they don’t come out of the mould and they don’t dry properly. If I put it in refrigerator it becomes sticky duy to condensation. Is their any way or trick through which I can avoid condensation while they are getting set. Urgently in the search of reply to this question.

    1. Hi there,
      do you temper the chocolate? Google this, this allows you to get a hard shell on the chocolate which should help to keep the condensation away if you transition to the room temperature carefully.
      The condensation will form when you take the cold chocolate back into the warm room, it is the warm moist air hitting the cold surface of the chocolate. Transitioning this will help, that means getting it to a cool place first before to room temperature. A cool box, with ice blocks, may help with this.
      I hope you get this sorted for you,
      Gemma 🙂
      Gemma 🙂

  5. I would like a recipe to make a milk chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting. I don’t care much for dark chocolate at all, thanks.

    1. Hi Mary,
      milk chocolate is a broad term for chocolate bars which run from as low as 15% cocoa solids to about 50% cocoa solids. at the lower cocoa content, it is more a mix of fats and sugars than it is chocolate, and though it can be a nice treat to eat, it does not hold up so well in baking, it simply does not have the flavor.
      At about 35% cocoa solids you are getting a better thing – 50% and you have a bar which will work well in all of your baking.
      see this recipe (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/best-ever-chocolate-cake/). the cocoa will give the flavor in the cake, the milk chocolate will work really well in the frosting.
      You can also make Ganache with milk chocolate. That is a lovely way to finish a light sponge cake too. (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/make-chocolate-ganache/).
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. This chocolate information would be great in a one page printable sheet. I print and keep many of your recipes and substitutions, weight conversion etc along with favorite recipes in a 3 ring binder for quick access and reference. I commonly substitute milk chocolate morsels for semisweet but this might not always be the best option.

    1. You can always copy the info into a word document and print it that way. 🙂
      I often do this so I can add my own notes and any changes that I might make to a recipe.

  7. Hi Gemma,

    I’m an ardent follower of your’s and constantly keep trying your wonderful recipes. Thank you for your videos which You patiently include to mention all the do’s and don’ts. This is where every baker lien me gets all the motivation and support and guidance they need to get a hold on baking. I have big question if you can please guide me through. I use Hershey’s unsweetened 100% dark cocoa for chocolate based cakes and McCormic vanilla extract. But somehow there’s this odd taste that puts my cake off. It’s almost gives an earthy taste much like dirt( I rem the taste of dirt cos I used to it it when I was a child :D) . How can make my cakes taste good . Also the cocoa is almost 2 yrs old but I store it in my deep freezer if that helps. Thank you so much once again.

    1. Hi,

      Sorry for my late reply. Really glad you like my recipes. So what you are talking about is a characteristic of the cocoa powder. What I suggest is buying any brand of dutch process cocoa powder which is way smoother and doesn’t have that bitterness/ partly flavor you are talking about.

      I use Ghirardelli and it’s great quality.
      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  8. Tell me more about the different types of milk to use in recipes. I have a problem as to know what is the right milk to purchase from supermarket to make cakes or pudding, etc

    1. Hi Jenny,

      It really is your personal preference on what you like. Usually for baking I suggest full fat milk for baking. the more fat the more flavor .:)

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  9. If you know how to make cocoa powder from scratch please email me I’ll give you my email and thank you

  10. Hi Gemma,
    This post is such a good idea!! Thanks so much for the information. There is one thing I’m confused about – what is the difference between cooking chocolate and eating chocolate? For example, when I go to the grocery store there is Cadbury dark chocolate in the confectionary section and Cadbury dark cooking chocolate in the baking section, and both have similar cocoa percentages. Which should I be using?
    Also, is it bad to use compound chocolate?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jessie,
      good question! Compound chocolate is commonly know as cooking chocolate, and is a blend of cocoa/vegetable fats and sweeteners in most cases. It is ok as a frosting, for cupcakes for instance, not so much for real chocolate flavor.
      Cooking chocolate may also be the real deal, as in have a high cocoa solid percentage, and I would buy that on price. If it is better value that the eating/dessert choc then buy that one.
      I hope this is of help to you, carry on baking!
      Gemma 🙂

    1. Hi Dede,
      here in the US we are lucky enough to get a gorgeous artisan chocolate from a company called Ghirardelli.
      In other places, where this may not be available, what matter is understanding the chocolate, read the article, it will tell you how to choose the right one for you. It is all in that post!
      I hope you find one to suit,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Thanks for the information gemma! It’s really helpful! ????

    By the way, can u share recipe pot de creme of yours?

    I’ve done it before but its still got eggy smell.. Had tried it with lemon n vanilla extract, but still cant get rid of the smell..

    1. Hi Gemma!

      In your recipes that use unsweetened cocoa powder, do you typically use the Dutch processed or CAN you use it? For example your brownies recipe, if you use the Dutch powder, do you need to add baking powder then to counteract the akaline? I’m still very new to oven baking as many Vietnamese sweets use steam instead. Thanks for the information, it’s so useful for beginners.

      1. You can use Dutch processed cocoa in a recipe that calls for cocoa powder. If a recipe calls for cocoa powder, it’s best that you follow the recipe as it is. If you’re going to make changes, make it afterwards, and work from there. Hence, if the recipe calls for powdered cocoa, it’s advisable that you don’t add any ingredient that’s not even in the recipe or increase amounts of ingredients that’s there. I hope this helps.

  12. I really like the information you give. You are never to old to learn or being reminded of things you have forgotten. Thanks!

  13. Thank you for the great info. It’s very useful to know. So do you just buy good quality chocolate bars or baking squares?

  14. Hi,Emma.
    I enjoy receiving your emails with various recipes and being able to understand various cooking methods and uses.
    I look forward to many more exciting things that you choose to share.
    Thank You,
    Kent Harris

    1. Hi Erika,
      These are different things, cacao is a very lightly processed, un-roasted type of cocoa. It is stronger, and just not the same thing as the processed cocoa we use in baking usually.
      Cacao is richer in nutrients than cocoa, but it is treated differently, you are not comparing like with like.
      I suggest you google this to understand it, I do not use it in baking, and that is why it is not on my sheet, you cannot use it 1:1.
      I hope this is of help to you,
      Gemma 🙂

  15. I love this post because I feel that people need to understand chocolate more, me included! I do wish you covered couverture chocolate though, that is still a mystery to many people.

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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