It is rare indeed to find a person who does enjoy chocolate. Chocolate has a rich flavor that appeals to almost all palettes and is used for both eating and creating out-of-this-world confections. Baking chocolate is the most preferred form for professional chefs and those who cater.
There are several steps that must take place in order to turn a raw cocoa bean into a good eating chocolate. However, they all begin at the same stages. In most cases, where you stop the process determines what the end result is. Baking chocolate is nothing more than pure chocolate with no sugar or additives in the mix. Once liquefied, the chocolate liqueur is hardened to create baking chocolate, sometimes referred to as bitter chocolate.
The most common differentiation between baking chocolates is the form in which the chocolate is delivered. Solid baking chocolate keeps the cocoa solids and cocoa butter together and has a melting property. Most quality baking chocolate in solid form is comprised of about 53% cocoa butter. Some cooks prefer the ease of use, however, of cocoa powder. Genuine cocoa powder is just the cocoa solids separated out from the cocoa butter. Cocoa powder does not melt. Depending on the maker and the type, cocoa powder can actually be further processed and treated to affect the final flavor. For example, a powder labeled “Dutch cocoa” has a more neutralized acidic component and taste milder than pure cocoa powder.
Like many things in the United States and United Kingdom, baking chocolate that is labeled the same is not always the same product. All baking chocolate sold in the United States, for example, must have between 50% and 58% of its mass made up of cocoa butter. American baking chocolate has no added sugar and is considered quite pure. Products labeled as baking in the United Kingdom, however, could very well be almost entirely an artificial product with very little actual cocoa in the mix. Because consumers are more discerning, however, baking chocolate is becoming more consistent and of higher quality. In most cases, the artificial baking chocolate is used more commercially in cheap confections and chocolate flavoring.
When using a solid baking chocolate, the most important thing to remember is to melt it carefully. A lower heat setting should be used to slowly melt the baking chocolate and a double boiler is recommended to keep the chocolate from scorching and burning. Scorched chocolate loses its appealing flavor quality and can run the recipe. In addition to careful heating, baking chocolate reacts to other ingredients added to the mix. Adding water, for example, will cause the chocolate to “seize.” This means that the baking chocolate will begin to separate and take on a very grainy and gritty texture. In some cases this can be partially fixed by adding more fat to the mix, but it is not desirable and should be avoided.
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