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About Bitter Chocolate

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 11 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Bitter Chocolate Baking Chocolate

Bitter chocolate is defined as containing more than 35% chocolate liquor. Despite its name chocolate liquor contains no alcohol. It is made up of the finely ground nib (or centre) of the cocoa bean to form a smooth liquid. This liquid is quite bitter to taste as it has had no added sugar and is essentially chocolate in its purest form. The liquor is cooled and moulded into blocks, which contain approximately 53% cocoa butter.

Bitter chocolate is often used in cooking and is also known as unsweetened and baking chocolate. Bitter chocolate is best used in conjunction with other ingredients and used to make tasty treats such a chocolate cookies, muffins and chocolate mousses. Bitter chocolate is the best option for use in cooking as it gives the chef greater control over the consistency and sweetness of the dish (for example you can determine the amount of sugar added to the dish).However, chocolate definitions can be confusing. For example, what’s the difference between bitter chocolate and bittersweet chocolate? And what do you do if you go to the shop and find that chocolate is simply defined by its cocoa percentages rather than terms, such as baking and eating? By knowing the cocoa percentages of the various chocolate types, you are more likely to get the best type for the specific purpose you want to use it for.

Chocolate Definitions

Bitter chocolate contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It is chocolate in its purest form and has a very bitter taste due to the absence of added sugar. It is also called baking chocolate and cooking chocolate.

Sweet chocolate is perhaps the most confusing category as it is an umbrella term that includes dark chocolate (which can often taste quite bitter). Sweet chocolate must contain a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor, but most good-quality sweet chocolate contains nearer to 55% chocolate liquor. Some dark chocolates have as much as 70% chocolate liquor.

Semisweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate are subcategories of sweet chocolate (not bitter chocolate). Both types must contain a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor, although semisweet chocolate will normally contain less sugar than sweet chocolate, and bittersweet even less (having a bitter taste nearer to bitter chocolate).

Chocolate Liquor

To make chocolate, the cocoa bean is roasted and shelled, leaving only the nibs, or centres. The nibs are then ground into a smooth liquid (chocolate liquor). When the (non-alcoholic) chocolate liquor cools, it forms solid blocks. Pure chocolate liquor is very dark and bitter to taste. It gives chocolate its characteristic dark, strong flavour.Chocolate liquor and bitter chocolate taste very bitter and are unpalatable if consumed on their own. To make bitter chocolate taste better (the chocolate we know and love), sugar and flavourings are added to the cocoa butter and solids.

Bitter chocolate is the cooled, hardened version of chocolate liquor, which is chocolate in its purest and most unpalatable form. Bitter chocolate is best used in cooking, being frequently used in dishes such as cookies, muffins and chocolate mousses. It is best used in conjunction with other ingredients as it is quite sharp and bitter to taste.

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