How To

Cooking with chocolate and cocoa powder

Including how to melt chocolate and how to choose the best type of chocolate for your recipe.
Chocolate cornflake ganache biscuits rolled in nuts

Chocolate cornflake biscuits with mocha ganache

Chocolate 101

Cocoa powder is acidic and this can be used to advantage in recipes that include bicarb (alkaline) and/or baking powder (neutral), which reduce the acidic taste and cause a chemical reaction that creates bubbles and aeration in batters.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali to neutralise its acids, this results in a less bitter taste and richer colour. Care should be taken swapping it for natural ‘regular’ cocoa.

Compound chocolate is not real chocolate, since it only contains cocoa powder and vegetable fats. We do not recommend its use in baking, due to taste.

45% cocoa solids dark chocolate cocoa solids indicate a chocolate’s intensity. At this percentage the chocolate taste and sweetness are balanced.

Swirls of melted chocolate

How to melt chocolate

Choose a glass or stainless-steel bowl, sized appropriately for the quantity of chocolate, and a saucepan that fits the bowl well. One-third fill the pan with water then bring to a simmer. Sit bowl with chocolate on top; stir until just melted. For small amounts of milk or white chocolate, take care as they are prone to overheating.

Want to know how to temper chocolate? Read our step-by-step guide here.

Frequently Asked Questions

I only have dark chocolate but the recipe calls for milk?

Use it! The recipe will have a more chocolate-y flavour as a result and will be less sweet.

I only have milk chocolate but the recipe calls for dark?

Unless making a chocolate cake or pudding, wait. For biscuits and fillings, milk will be fine, the chocolate flavour will be milder and the taste sweeter.

My chocolate has seized

This is due to overheating or water getting in. Start again.

Choosing milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids, sugar and milk. Choose a brand that contains 25% cocoa solids for the best ratio of chocolate to creamy taste.

70% cocoa solids dark chocolate – Use this type when you require an intense chocolate taste with less sweetness.

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