One of the good things that came from the lockdown period in 2020 was how much time people had to pick up new hobbies - especially baking. Many upstarts have found much success in this hobby and some have even turned it into small businesses to survive pay cuts and job losses at the height of COVID-19's spread. With more people refining their craft, ingredients start to play a more important role; and what better ingredient to pay attention to than chocolate? The ingredient is versatile and commonly used - here's how to pick the right kind of chocolate for your baking.

Baking (Unsweetened) Chocolate

Considered the most "authentic" version of chocolate, using this immediately contains between 90% to 99% of cacao which is a staple for cooking and baking. As its makeup consists of the least ingredients possible, this type of chocolate is suited to be an ingredient of its own when preparing batter. The batter is usually prepared for cakes, brownies and cookies - intended to serve as the main flavour of your pastry. As this chocolate functions as a component, it is unadvised to serve this type of chocolate as a snack to be eaten by hand.

Bittersweet/Semisweet Chocolate

Still containing a respectable amount of cacao (35% to 55% for semisweet and 60% to 70% for bittersweet), both chocolates are considered the "dark" chocolate that can be eaten by hand or used for chocolate chip cookies, fudge and even more brownies. Bittersweet chocolate contains slightly less sugar than semisweet chocolate, but both are extremely versatile and selected as a staple for many baking dishes. If you want your chocolate to have a significant amount of presence in your dish, while keeping the cacao notes intact, these are your go-to options.

Milk Chocolate

MIlk chocolate is still technically within the "true" chocolate territory, containing 10% cocoa. This type of chocolate contains cocoa, butter and sugar - making it more than just a chocolate ingredient. It is commonly eaten by hand and better used as a standalone snack or an addition to the likes of trail mix, spreads and candy, but still goes with pastries for the sweet tooth like s'mores brownies and chocolate mousse. Milk chocolate still has its purpose in many pastries, but don't expect the strong cocoa flavour that darker chocolates offer.

White Chocolate

Till this day, some argue that white chocolate is not real chocolate, but it is made from cocoa butter which essentially comes from the cocoa bean. Whether it is authentic chocolate or not, white chocolate drastically deviates from the cocoa taste present in dark chocolates and has its own purpose in the baking world. The lack of cocoa flavour gives it a niche of its own as it begins to complement stronger ingredients like citrus fruits, vanilla, coconut and berries. Red Velvet pies, cheesecakes and fruit tarts are common dishes that contain white chocolate.

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