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The chocolate market is becoming more and more confusing everyday; 55%, 64%, 72%, what's the difference? Can I substitute one for another? If so, how? Do I need to make other adjustments? Following are the answers to these and many other questions that you may have about using chocolate.


To make successful substitutions in recipes, it helps to understand the different components of chocolate.

Components of bittersweet/semisweet chocolate and what they do in a recipe:

Chocolate liquor, which contains nonfat dry cocoa solids and cocoa butterSugar

Nonfat dry cocoa solids contribute virtually all the chocolate flavor. It is a dry ingredient that contains carbohydrates and acts like flour, absorbing moisture and liquid.

Cocoa Butter is fat. It adds smoothness, richness and body to the chocolate liquor. It carries the chocolate flavor because it melts at a higher temperature than other fats and isn't as soft as dairy fats.

Sugar contributes sweetness and moisture, as well as caramelized flavor.

Following is a comparison of different types of chocolate:


American Bittersweet/Semisweet Baking Square

50% Chocolate Liquor (18% - 22% nonfat dry cocoa solids = 28% - 32% cocoa butter)


50% sugar


Standard Bittersweet/Semisweet Baking Bar

55% Chocolate Liquor (20% - 22% nonfat dry cocoa solids = 33% - 35% cocoa butter)


45% sugar


70% Bittersweet Chocolate

70% Chocolate Liquor (28% - 30% nonfat dry cocoa solids = 40% - 42% cocoa butter)


30% sugar


Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

99% Chocolate Liquor (46% - 50% nonfat dry cocoa solids = 50% - 54% cocoa butter)



The grey color, called bloom, is cocoa butter or sugar that has separated from other ingredients. Bloom may occur in chocolate over time or when chocolate is subjected to high temperatures. It does not affect the freshness or flavor. If bloom is present, careful tempering is necessary to achieve a beautiful luster.

Chocolate scorches easily and becomes grainy. Take care to stir frequently and do not melt over boiling water or direct heat.

Centers and molds should be at room temperature, about 70 F. Molds should be clean and dry.

Moisture in any form will cause the chocolate to thicken. Be wary of steam from simmering water. Do not cover chocolate with a lid or condensation may form and drop on the chocolate.

Any leftover may be hardened and retempered at a later date. Plain molded pieces which show signs of bloom may also be melted and retempered.

Chocolate should be stored wrapped in foil or food grade plastic at about 65 F. in an odor-free, cool, dark dry place.

Melted chocolate should be stirred but be careful not to whip in air. Air will increase the viscosity and cause bumps and holes in the finished work.

Avoid handling finished chocolates; you will leave finger prints


Glossary of Chocolate Terminology:

Alkalized Cocoa: See Dutch-process cocoa

Alkalizing: A chemical process applied to cocoa nibs or to chocolate liquor to reduce acidity. See also, Dutch-process cocoa

Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate: Sweet chocolate that contains a minimum of 35% by weight of chocolate liquor.

Bloom: streaks, graying, or discoloration on the surface of chocolate caused by poor tempering, temperature fluctuations, and/or moisture in storage. Finely crystallized sugar on chocolate's surface caused by moisture is called sugar bloom. A dull appearance or streaks on the surface is caused by poor tempering or too much heat in storage and is called fat bloom.

Cacao: The source of all chocolate and chocolate products. The term cacao refers to the tree and its fruit and the seeds inside the fruit (also called cacao beans or cocoa beans), which are processed to make chocolate. When it appears on a chocolate label, cacao refers to the total cocoa bean content.

Chocolate Liquor: Cocoa nibs ground into a fine paste, i.e., pure unsweetened chocolate. Different types of chocolate are defined by the minimum percentage of chocolate liquor they contain. When the term chocolate liquor appears with a percentage on a label, it also includes any cocoa butter added separately to adjust the flavor or texture of the chocolate. When chocolate liquor appears in the ingredient list on the chocolate package, it may or may not be listed separately from any added cocoa butter or nonfat dry cocoa solids.

Cocoa or Cocoa Powder: chocolate liquor that has most of the fat extracted from it, then is pulverized to a powder. Cocoa powder is unsweetened and may be natural or treated with alkalis (Dutch-process).

Cocoa Beans: The seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. All chocolate and cocoa is made from cocoa beans that have been dried, roasted, and hulled. Hulling breaks the beans into pieces.

Cocoa Butter: The ivory-colored fat that constitutes 50% to 54% of the weight of hulled roasted cocoa beans. It is also known as cocoa fat. It is extracted from chocolate liquor (ground roasted cocoa beans) in the process of making cocoa powder. Extra cocoa butter is usually added to chocolate liquor to make fine chocolate. It melts easily in the mouth and makes chocolate smooth, rich and long lasting on the palate.

Cocoa Mass: is another term for chocolate liquor.

Cocoa Nibs: Hulled roasted cocoa bean pieces.


Cocoa solids: Refers to chocolate liquor plus the added cocoa butter.


Conching: The prolonged heating, mixing and scraping process during the last stage of manufacturing chocolate that gives chocolate its texture and smoothness of flavor. During the process, chocolate is ground into particles too fine for the human palate to detect (which smoothes the microscopic rough edges), the particles are then mixed and coated with cocoa butter. Timed and controlled aeration removes any undesirable aromas and flavors. The longer the conching process, the higher the quality of chocolate.


Couverture: Is chocolate that contains at least 32% cocoa butter. Couvertures taste smooth. Because of the higher percentage of fat, they are fluid when melted and provide excellent results when used for coating items. Standard chocolate chips and chunks commonly available in the supermarket do not have the percentage of cocoa butter required to allow for smooth taste and fluidity and are not considered couvertures.


Dutch Process Cocoa: Dutch processed, or alkalized cocoa powder is made from chocolate liquor or cocoa nibs that have been chemically treated with potassium carbonate to reduce the acidity and harshness.


Ganache: Is a generic term for any combination of chocolate and cream. There are many formulas for ganache, some may contain butter or eggs. Ganache can be flavored many ways and can be made into different textures (flowing sauce/glaze, firm or soft truffle center, spreadable icing, or fluffy filling) depending on the ratio of chocolate to cream, the method employed to mix them, the cooling and post cooling handling process.


Lecithin: Is a soy based fat used in tiny quantities to emulsify the fat in chocolate.


Milk Chocolate: Sweet chocolate that contains at least 10% chocolate liquor, at least 3.39% milk fat, and at least 12% milk solids.


Natural Cocoa: Cocoa made from chocolate liquor that has not been chemically treated to reduce acidity.


Non-fat dry cocoa solids: The fat-free component of chocolate liquor which anywhere from 46% to 50% of its weight.