The Styles of Chocolate
Dark Chocolate: Semisweet and Bittersweet
Contains at least 35% cacao (aka chocolate liquor or ground cacao nibs) and no milk. If labeled 60% cacao, it contains 40% other ingredients, mainly sugar. The terms are not standardized, so semisweet and bittersweet can be the same thing.
Contains at least 12% milk solids and 10% cacao solids (chocolate liquor) in the US; mostly sugar, which explains the lack of much chocolate flavor. “Dark milk chocolate” has 30% or more cacao.
Couverture (aka Coating Chocolate)
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa butter content (at least 32% by the French definition), which improves texture and sheen, making it best for dipping, coating and molding.
Created by grinding cacao beans (cocoa solids and cocoa butter) to a paste, which then hardens (aka solid chocolate liquor). No sugar or extra fat added.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Created by sending cocoa liquor through a hydraulic press and separating the dark solids from the cocoa butter. The solids are ground into a fine powder with fat content below 24% (from about 50%). The expelled cocoa butter has many uses.
Unsweetened Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
Cocoa nibs or powder treated with an alkali solution to neutralize acidity; results in a darker powder with a milder, less astringent taste.
Beans that have been roasted, hulled and cracked. They are the source of all chocolate ingredients (chocolate liquor, etc.), but can also be used with no further processing as a crunchy, flavorful ingredient or topping.
Semisweet and Bittersweet Chocolate Chips/Morsels
Lower in cocoa butter, which makes them great for cookies/confections where high heat can make chocolate melt or scorch. Not interchangeable with baking chocolate (e.g., in brownies) or couverture (for coating/dipping) as they will not melt properly.
Not technically/legally chocolate (contains no cocoa solids, from which chocolate’s color and most of the flavor come). Contains cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids and usually vanilla.