Buying and Storing Chocolate
Learn to make the most of the chocolate you use for recipes.
When buying chocolate, a quick browse through the chocolate section in grocery stores, candy shops, and gourmet shops will show you that there are many types and brands of chocolate available. Even within types of chocolate, the flavor, sweetness, and color can vary from one manufacturer to another. Try several different brands and settle on the one you like best.
To check the quality of a chocolate, look for a glossy appearance and a chocolaty aroma. The chocolate should break with a snap. Also, it should melt on your tongue without waxiness or graininess.
Here is a summary of the various kinds of chocolate:
Unsweetened Chocolate: Pure chocolate with no sugar or flavor added, resulting in a strong, bitter flavor. Sometimes called baking or bitter chocolate, it is almost exclusively used for baking and cooking.
Semisweet Chocolate: Pure chocolate with added cocoa butter and sugar. It is also referred to as bittersweet chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate is usually darker and less sweet than chocolate labeled as semisweet. However, there are no legal specifications for either term.
Milk Chocolate: Pure chocolate with added cocoa butter, sugar, and milk or cream. It's similar to semisweet chocolate but generally contains less pure chocolate and added milk solids. It has a creamier texture, lighter color, and milder flavor than semisweet or bittersweet chocolates.
Sweet Chocolate: Pure chocolate with extra cocoa butter and sugar added. It is used in cooking and baking.
To store chocolate, keep it tightly-covered in a cool, dry place. (The temperature should be between 60 degrees F and 78 degrees F.) In hot weather, you may want to refrigerate chocolate. But, before refrigerating the chocolate, wrap it tightly in foil and seal in a plastic bag to prevent the chocolate from absorbing odors from other foods.
When bringing chocolate to room temperature, leave it wrapped so moisture doesn't condense on the chocolate and cause lumping when the chocolate is melted.