(photo from here)
If you’re anything like me, the baking bug strikes frequently and without warning. I don’t always have the ingredients I need on hand, especially when it comes to chocolate. I can be kind of lazy sometimes and don’t want to go to the store and get the exact ingredients I need. I’ve tried using chips when the recipe calls for bars and mixing dark and semisweet chocolate to get bittersweet chocolate, and I’m here to tell you what works and what gives you subpar results.
Substituting like this has never led to any bad results, but some will give you better results than others. Here’s to avoiding unnecessary trips to the grocery store!
The Low Down on Chocolate
-Chocolate chips: These are pretty versatile little buggers. Any time you want chocolate to keep its shape well, use chocolate chips. They work best for cookie and bars. The reason why they keep their shape so well is that they’re waxier than chocolate bars and contain more stabilizing ingredients. They also don’t contain much (if any) cocoa butter so the chocolate doesn’t get fat blooms after baking.
I have melted chips to use for truffles and it works fairly well. The chocolate doesn’t melt as smoothly because the chips are designed to hold their shape. You normally have to heat the chocolate for longer so they all melt and then you run the risk of overheating the chocolate. If you decide to use chips this way, heat the chocolate carefully with a double boiler. (See my previous post on tempering chocolate)
-Chocolate bars: This is probably the most versatile form of chocolate. Chocolate bars melt beautifully and are awesome for making truffles, ganache, and anything where you need to have smooth melted chocolate. The higher the cocoa butter present in the chocolate, the more smoothly it will melt. The most fantastic chocolate I’ve ever worked with was some white chocolate bars I got from Waitrose in London that had a 100% cocoa butter content. They melted like a dream.
Before you use bars for anything, you should chop them up into small pieces, especially if you’re melting them. This will help the chocolate melt more quickly and maintain an even heat. Plus you can steal a square or two when you’re cutting up the chocolate! You can substitute bars for anything unless the chocolate specifically needs to hold its shape (ie chocolate chip cookies).
-Baking chocolate: As far as I’m concerned, baking chocolate is a cruel joke to children everywhere. I snuck a square as a kid and bitterly regretted it. For those of you who don’t know, baking chocolate is completely unsweetened as is actually quite bitter. Definitely wasn’t the sweet taste I was expecting as a kid.
There really isn’t any way you can get around using this. If you run out, go to the store and buy more. Any other chocolate you try to substitute will be way too sweet. You can substitute cocoa powder if you’re short on time, but it’s better to have the real thing.
-Cocoa: I don’t use this much in recipes because it can be bitter and I prefer just using regular chocolate. I love using it for dusting desserts or rolling truffles. Substitute 3 T of cocoa powder + 1 T of oil for 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
-Candy melts: I really don’t like these. I know they melt perfectly smooth in no time, but they aren’t really chocolate! They taste fake, and I’m not really a fan.
-Run out of white chocolate? Go buy more
-Run out of milk chocolate? Use semisweet but it won’t be as sweet
-Run out of semisweet chocolate? Use 1/2 milk chocolate to 1/2 dark or bittersweet
-Run out of dark chocolate? Use bittersweet or ¾ baking chocolate to ¼ milk chocolate in a pinch
-Run out of baking chocolate? Go buy more