Most people don't need any excuse to enjoy a delectable piece of chocolate.
On its own, or topping a decadently delicious dessert, chocolate for many people is an ultimate comfort.
But before you take your next bite, you may want to read up on all the facts.
A Chocolate Guide ~ Types
There's a considerable variety of chocolate for cooking as well as eating available today.
Each product varies in its proportions of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and other ingredients, such as sugar, vanilla and lecithin.
Chocolate-Guide ~ a brief description:
Unsweetened chocolate is made from pure chocolate liquor with no sugar added and is used only for baking and desserts, not eating on its own.
Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate can be used interchangeably.
Bittersweet has a slightly lower sugar content and a slightly stronger chocolate flavor.
Both are used in desserts and baking but are sweet enough to eat as is.
Milk chocolate has milk added, producing a lighter color and flavor.
It's a popular eating chocolate and can be used in recipes but scorches easily.
Chips are specially formulated to soften yet hold their shape during baking.
Do not use in place of pure chocolate unless indicated in the recipe.
White chocolate contains cocoa butter but not chocolate liquor, so it's not actually chocolate.
In recipes, be sure to use pure white chocolate, not artificial, which doesn't melt evenly.
Cocoa powder is made from chocolate liquor that has been pressed to remove most of the cocoa butter.
Pulverized and sieved, this dry unsweetened powder is lower in fat than solid chocolate.
A Chocolate-Guide ~ Storage
Buy chocolate at a store with a high turnover of the product.
Chocolate should be wrapped well and stored at room temperature in a dry, cool place.
You may have seen that sometimes chocolate develops a white or gray sheen.
A gray color is a "fat bloom," indicating that, due to warm temperatures, cocoa butter has risen to the surface.
A white sheen is a "sugar bloom," caused by condensation of water on the chocolate's surface.
Neither type of bloom impairs the chocolate for cooking but both can make the texture grainy for eating.
A Chocolate-Guide ~ Cooking
Chocolate melts at a very low temperature, so remember it melts in your mouth as well as your hand. ;0)
To prevent scorching, you want to melt chopped chocolate over indirect heat.
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl over another bowl (this is referred to as a double boiler) partially filled with hot, not boiling, water.
In your double boiler, the water below the chocolate should be simmering but not boiling.
Or, you can microwave on medium, and stir often.
Remove pan or bowl from heat before chocolate is completely melted and then stir until completely smooth.
As it melts, chocolate can "seize" or tighten if even a drop of liquid falls into it.
If this happens, stir in a few drops of vegetable oil to smooth it out again.
Don't use butter or margarine because they contain liquid.
When melting chocolate with other ingredients such as butter, cream or milk, it's all a matter of proportions.
As long as there is 1 Tbs. (15 ml.) or more of liquid to each 2 oz. (60 g.) of chocolate, you shouldn't have a problem.Tweet
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