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Old 10-08-2004, 11:15 PM   #1
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Bittersweet vs Dark (70%) Chocolate

Is the main difference the amt of chocolate liquer vs cocoa butter?

Can they be used interchangably? Or, would I need to adjust the amt of sugar and/or butter in the recipe.

I don't have particular recipe in mind....just curious. Trader Joes sells pound sized bars of each at a reasonable price, so I was just wondering which is better for baking. I also buy the Ghiradelli chocolate blocks at TJs.

Thanks.

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Old 10-09-2004, 12:16 AM   #2
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FYI, Bittersweet chocolate is dark chocolate. Any semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate can be considered "dark", so the question of a difference between bittersweet and dark is inherently illogical. The short answer to your question is probably yes; most any dark chocolate, be it SS or BS can be used interchangeably for most any purpose, so long as the recipe calls for dark chocolate. Obviously though, some chocolates are more appropriate for some tasks than others, and of course, you shouldn't use BS or SS in place of unsweetened chocolate or milk or white chocolate.

As a general rule, 50% to 60% is semi sweet, while anything above 60% is bittersweet. At around 90%, you're getting into the realm of unsweetened, or "baking" chocolate. Of course, these numbers only refer to the percentage of chocolate liqueur in the product, and don't necessarily reflect the ratio of cocoa butter, sugar, and other ingredients, which vary wildly, even within products from the same brand. I also think there is significant difference in the regulations in the States compared to Europe, vis a vis how you can label chocolate. In short, it's a mess. I would recommend that you pick a chocolate that you like, according to your personal taste, and stick with it. Trying to make sense of the confusing and contradictory stuff you read in cookbooks and on chocolate labels will only make your head hurt.
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Old 10-09-2004, 01:43 AM   #3
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I agree with jasonr. Pick your favorite chocolate and go with it. Do you have a Whole Foods Market near you? The one I go to lets me sample their bulk chocolate - they carry Scharffen Berger, Callebaut, El Rey, etc. They also carry the Lindt 70% prepackaged bars. My favorite chocolate for baking is Scharrfen Berger 70 % bittersweet, but I also love Ghirardelli bittersweet and semi-sweet.

Of course you have to use your imagination on how the chocolate will taste when baked, which obviously will be a lot less intense than when eating it out of hand! I know many people who cannot take any kind of bittersweet chocolate out of hand, but love it in desserts.

BTW. if you want a fantastic book on baking with chocolate, buy Alice Medrich's "Bittersweet." Not only does it have great desserts, but it's very instructive, with a lot of information on how to use chocolates with various percentages, about technique, etc. You'll learn that the higher percentage chocolates not only have a more intense flavor, but will cause desserts to dry out faster in the oven than the lower percentage ones, due to a lesser sugar content. Also, how to compensate proportion-wise. Check it out!

Here's some interesting information:
http://www.scharffenberger.com/press/boston_globe.html
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:50 AM   #4
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Thanks Jason and Merstarr!


I have both a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods near me. The TJs is actually walking distance. Generally for baking, I use the Ghiradelli blocks that they sell at TJs. (well, i use standard chips for cookies). I've looked at the higher end chocolates at Whole Foods. While the chocolates look divine, it's a bit pricy. I know it's totally worth it considering the quality of the chocolate, but with the amount of baking I do, it would really add up!

The only reason I asked about bittersweet vs 70% dark is that TJs sells (under their own name) 1lb bars of chocolate......they have both a bittersweet and a 70%. I had read once that they were interchangable, but just wanted to ask here since you all give such great advice.

They also have a milk chocolate bar which I bought. I'm on a fudge-making kick. The recipe calls for semi-seweet and milk chocolates. It's easier to have the large bar on hand than to keep buying the bags of milk choc chips.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:52 AM   #5
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If you want to save money, try shopping at Chocolate Source.

http://www.chocolatesource.com/home/index.asp

They are the supreme source for all the best brands, and they sell it in bulk, which saves tons of money compared to buying it in 10 OZ bars from, or even blocks of a pound or two. Through them, I have been able to sample all of the major brands, from El Ray, to Scharffen Berger, to Valrhona, to Callebaut. Just yesterday, I received a shipment of 11 LBS of 55% Callebaut chocolate, which I paid about $40.00 US for. This thing is basically a chocolate two by four, which pretty much requires a chainsaw to cut through. But it was totally cheap, it's good quality (maybe not as good as Valrhona, but those guys are super-expensive!) and it'll last me for a minimum of 9 months! And as a bonus, if someone tries to break into my apartment, I can use it as a club to beat the crap out of them :twisted:
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:09 AM   #6
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Thanks, Jason!

I'll check them out. Yeah, I nearly plotzed when I saw the price of Valrhona at Whole Foods. That's why I've been using the blocks of Ghiardelli from Trader Joes (it's cut from what is probably a 20-25 lb bar, but sold in about 5-10inch blocks).
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Old 10-09-2004, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runninduo
Thanks Jason and Merstarr!


I have both a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods near me. The TJs is actually walking distance. Generally for baking, I use the Ghiradelli blocks that they sell at TJs. (well, i use standard chips for cookies). I've looked at the higher end chocolates at Whole Foods. While the chocolates look divine, it's a bit pricy. I know it's totally worth it considering the quality of the chocolate, but with the amount of baking I do, it would really add up!

The only reason I asked about bittersweet vs 70% dark is that TJs sells (under their own name) 1lb bars of chocolate......they have both a bittersweet and a 70%. I had read once that they were interchangable, but just wanted to ask here since you all give such great advice.

They also have a milk chocolate bar which I bought. I'm on a fudge-making kick. The recipe calls for semi-seweet and milk chocolates. It's easier to have the large bar on hand than to keep buying the bags of milk choc chips.

Thanks again!
The TJ "bittersweet" bar is too general, whereas, the 70% dark, which of course is also bittersweet, tells you the exact percentage. See if you can find out what percentage their bittersweet one is!
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Old 10-09-2004, 03:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runninduo
Thanks Jason and Merstarr!


I have both a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods near me. The TJs is actually walking distance. Generally for baking, I use the Ghiradelli blocks that they sell at TJs. (well, i use standard chips for cookies). I've looked at the higher end chocolates at Whole Foods. While the chocolates look divine, it's a bit pricy. I know it's totally worth it considering the quality of the chocolate, but with the amount of baking I do, it would really add up!

The only reason I asked about bittersweet vs 70% dark is that TJs sells (under their own name) 1lb bars of chocolate......they have both a bittersweet and a 70%. I had read once that they were interchangable, but just wanted to ask here since you all give such great advice.

They also have a milk chocolate bar which I bought. I'm on a fudge-making kick. The recipe calls for semi-seweet and milk chocolates. It's easier to have the large bar on hand than to keep buying the bags of milk choc chips.

Thanks again!
The TJ "bittersweet" bar is too general, whereas, the 70% dark, which of course is also bittersweet, tells you the exact percentage. See if you can find out what percentage their bittersweet one is!
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:35 PM   #9
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Runninduo, Callebaut is my favorite chocolate for baking but I agree it can get a little pricey.

If you're looking for the greatest bang for the buck out of what's available at TJs/Whole Foods, definitely go with the darkest TJ pound plus bar. At less than 4 bucks a lb. it's the best deal out there. I find it comparable quality with Ghirardelli.
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:49 PM   #10
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Thanks Scott! Yeah, it's a great deal. The Ghiaradelli is a good deal too! $3.49/lb.

I happen to be at whole foods today, and the chocolate they sell is more than I want to spend for my "general" baking. if there were ever a really special occasion, I'd splurge. But, to be honest, the stuff I've made with the Ghiradelli has been great (including flourless chocolate cake and molten chocolate cakes.)

Thanks again to everyone for their input!
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