Baking Substitutions for Unsweetened Chocolate

Chunks of bakers chocolate

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Chocoholics can rejoice in the fact that a little bit of chocolate can be good for you, potentially lowering your risk for heart disease. Baking chocolate treats at home allows you to control the ingredients and indulge more healthfully. Don't run to the store just yet, however, if you don't keep unsweetened chocolate in your pantry. You can easily substitute other ingredients and still get delicious baked goods.

Cocoa Powder Connection

Cocoa powder in measuring spoons

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One of the more common substitutes for unsweetened chocolate is a mix of 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of melted butter, per ounce of unsweetened chocolate. Because cocoa powder is unsweetened chocolate with most of the cocoa butter removed, it works well as a substitute and actually can impart a stronger chocolate flavor, which is why you need slightly less cocoa powder than unsweetened chocolate in recipes. Although you might be tempted to skip the melted butter to lower the fat, "Fine Cooking" advises against this because it would change the texture of the final product.

Carob Can Cover

Ripe carob pods or St. John's bread

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Another alternative for unsweetened chocolate is carob powder and melted butter. Use this chocolatelike powder just as you would unsweetened cocoa powder and in the same amount. You may want to reduce the sugar in your recipe slightly, however, as carob tastes sweeter than chocolate. Keep in mind that the health benefits of chocolate are not the same for carob.

Swap With Sweet

Chunks of baking chocolate

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Substitute semisweet chocolate instead of unsweetened chocolate, and then reduce the sugar in your recipe by 1 tablespoon per ounce. Because semisweet chocolate doesn't contain quite as much cocoa solids as unsweetened chocolate, however, your final dish might not have quite as much of a chocolate taste if you use this substitution. Using dark chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate would intensify the flavor a bit more, but you would still want to reduce the sugar in the recipe to keep it from being overly sweet.

Texture Considerations

close-up of two pieces of brownie on a plate

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There can be textural differences to baked goods made with cocoa powder and butter instead of unsweetened chocolate. For example, brownies made with the cocoa powder mix tend to be softer and chewier, while those made with unsweetened chocolate tend to be firmer and fudgier, according to "Fine Cooking." This is because butter is soft at room temperature, but the cocoa butter in the chocolate is still firm at this temperature.