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Semi-Sweet and Bittersweet Chocolate

Dark chocolate is another name used to describe any sweetened chocolate that does not contain milk solids i.e.. extra-bittersweet, bittersweet, and semi-sweet.  In general, European dark chocolate refers to bittersweet, while American dark chocolate refers to semi-sweet. The two chocolates are used interchangeably.   However, flavor, texture, and appearance of the finished product may be changed depending on the type and quality of chocolate used.

Semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolates contain cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and sometimes lecithin (acts as an emulsifier).  The quality and blends of cocoa beans, amount and quality of the added ingredients, and the processing determines the quality of the chocolate.  Each brand has their own special formula and method of processing. 

Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolates contain at least 35% chocolate liquor in North America and 43% in Britain.  The best chocolates can contain 65-70% chocolate liquor.  The higher the content of chocolate liquor, the more rich and flavorful the chocolate.  Bittersweet chocolate generally has a stronger chocolate flavor.  Semi-sweet chocolate generally contains more sugar than bittersweet.  However, because the amount of sugar this type of chocolate contains is not regulated, what one manufacturer calls bittersweet may be called semi-sweet by another manufacturer.

Semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, if well wrapped and stored in a cool dry place with good air circulation, will keep several years.

Dark chocolate is widely used in all types pastries, confections, and desserts and is also eaten out of hand. 

3 ounces = 85 grams

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Choosing and Storing Chocolate

There are many good brands of chocolate on the market today, both domestic and foreign.  (The brands I like to use are Lindt Bittersweet, Scharffen Berger Semi-Sweet and Baker's.)

Some popular brands are:

Baker's, Callebaut, Cocao Barry, El Rey, Ghirardelli, Guittard, Hersheys, Lindt, Nestle, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, and Valrhona.

Mail order/Internet sources:

- Sweet Celebrations catalog or their website.  (1-800-328-6722 for a catalog or sweetc.com). 

- The Baker's Catalogue or their website (1-800-827-6836 or bakerscatalogue.com).