Baking and cooking with chocolate can be tricky. When you eat chocolate candy or ice cream, chocolate appears to be a simple flavoring, easy to add to any confection. When you use chocolate as an ingredient in your kitchen, it's important to know appropriate substitutions to make recipes successful.
Semi-Sweet Chips and Squares
Most baking chocolate is sold in 1-ounce squares or in bars with 1-ounce sections that are easy to separate, and 3 tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips equals about 1 ounce of semi-sweet baking chocolate. Chocolate chips have less cocoa butter than baking chocolate to help them keep their chip shape during baking and not melt into the baking dough. This slightly inhibits their melting point, so they take a bit longer to liquefy. Chips also harden more when cooled, so the texture of the finished product will be slightly different if you elect to use chips instead of squares.
Bittersweet Chocolate Squares
These can also be substituted for semi-sweet squares. There will be minor differences in texture and taste but the cocoa butter content is the same, so bittersweet squares melt the same as semi-sweet ones.
Unsweetened Chocolate Squares
Replacing semi-sweet chips with unsweetened baking chocolate requires adding 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar for each ounce of chocolate. In cookie, cake, muffin and brownie batters, you can also substitute each ounce of semi-sweet chips with 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and one tablespoon of butter, margarine or shortening. For candies, sauces and other recipes where a smooth chocolate texture is important, the cocoa powder mixture is not recommended.
Chocolate Cooking Tips
If improperly handled, chocolate will turn on you in a minute and ruin your dessert. Break big pieces of chocolate into smaller ones to hasten the melting process and keep the mixture smooth. Don't rush the melting process. Use a double boiler to slowly melt chocolate over hot, not boiling, water. You can also melt it in the microwave on reduced power, but stir it every few seconds to make it creamy and prevent it from seizing, which makes it unusable. Never let water contaminate the chocolate. Even a drop of water in a pan or spoon can harden chocolate and render it useless. Store chocolate in a cool place no more than 60 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent blooming, the white film that develops on chocolate when it's exposed to higher temperatures. The bloom doesn't affect the taste, but it makes the chocolate less creamy.