Here is a general overview of chocolate types (such as milk, unsweetened, bittersweet, and semisweet chocolates) how to select chocolate and how to store chocolate.
Pure chocolate without added sugar.
Also known as: bitter chocolate, baking chocolate, chocolate liquor, and pure chocolate.
Uses: Used almost exclusively for baking.
Legally, at least 35 percent pure chocolate with some small amount of sugar added.
Also known as: dark chocolate, when it is a European brand.
Characteristics: Usually darker and less sweet than semisweet.
No legal specifications for the term so not always darker and less sweet.
Semisweet and bittersweet can be used in baking interchangeably, depending on personal preferences.
Specific sweetness and color intensity varies by manufacturer's recipes and cacao bean sources.
Uses: Baking and eating.
Legally, at least 35 percent pure chocolate with added cocoa butter and sugar.
Characteristics: The most versatile chocolate.
Available in many forms (block, discs, squares, chips).
Uses: Baking and eating.
Legally, milk chocolate is at least 10 percent pure chocolate with added cocoa butter and sugar.
Characteristics: Most milk chocolates contain less pure chocolate than semisweet or bittersweet chocolates.
Milder flavor than darker chocolates.
Legally, sweet chocolate is at least 15 percent pure chocolate with added cocoa butter and sugar.
Taste: Sweeter than semisweet chocolate.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is pure chocolate with most of the cocoa butter removed.
Characteristics: Cocoa powders labeled "Dutch-process" or "European-style" have been treated to neutralize the naturally occurring acids, giving them a mellower flavor and redder color.
White chocolate is made by combining cocoa butter with sugar, milk solids, and flavoring, usually vanilla.
Commonly called a chocolate, it's not a true one -- legally.
Premelted chocolate is a semiliquid, unsweetened product made of cocoa powder and vegetable oil.
Uses: Exclusively used for baking.
Also known as: Compound chocolate coating, chocolate summer coating, confectioners' coating chocolate, and chocolate-flavored coating.
A chocolate-like product with most of the cocoa butter removed and replaced with vegetable fat.
It is easier to work with than chocolate for dipping and molding since there is no need to take special steps with it to get a shine to it and it melts at a higher temperature.
Comes in assorted colors and flavors.
Can be found in craft stores' baking sections.
Mexican sweet chocolate has cinnamon and sugar added to the pure chocolate. Sometimes ground almonds may also be added.
It can be found in Mexican grocery stores, on the Web, and in specialty food stores.
Ibarra brand is one of the most popular brands in Mexico (and its packaging is gorgeous).
Determining whether chocolate is of high quality involves all the senses.