A Beginner’s Guide to the Different Types and Varieties of Chocolate and What They’re for

Everybody loves chocolate, and ever since we have learned to use it by itself or as a food ingredient, it’s become one of the most loved all over the world, with millions of people consuming it daily.

However, there’s a catch. Chocolate may be one of the most familiar foods all over the world and one of the most common ingredients in different dishes and pastries, but the word itself could mean many different things.

Whether you’re looking to include chocolate as an ingredient in your pastries or you’re a starting aficionado, there are many different types and varieties that you need to keep in mind. Here are a few to get you started:

Cocoa Powder
This versatile ingredient used in pastries, dishes, and even as a drink on its own, is the ground-up version of chocolate liquor with a reduced fat content. Natural powder appears lighter and slightly acidic, while dark cocoa powder tends to be more alkaline and tastes milder.

When it comes to recipes that need baking powder, dark powder is usually preferred over natural because of the relative lack of acid content.

Unsweetened
Otherwise known as “pure” chocolate liquor or plain “baking chocolate”, unsweetened chocolate is not fit to be consumed on its own and is instead used as an ingredient.

Unsweetened chocolate gives baked goods and pastries a much deeper and richer flavor, owing to its composition of equal parts cocoa butter and solids, and is the foundation of all other types of chocolate with the exception of white.

Dark
This type of chocolate contains no milk solids, but instead contains other elements, such as sugar, vanilla, and an emulsifier known as lecithin. Dark chocolate that is sold commercially often contains between thirty to eighty percent cocoa.

This means that certain varieties, such as semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, fall into this category.

White
The reason why this type of chocolate is called “white” chocolate is because of the relatively high amount of cocoa butter instead of other cocoa products, such as liquor. The end result of the process of making white chocolate makes it taste like vanilla.

While white chocolate can be confused with milk chocolate, the two are in fact very different varieties.

Milk
Milk chocolate is different from white chocolate in that it contains milk products, either condensed or solid, along with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, compared to white chocolate which consists of mostly cocoa butter.
This type of chocolate has a more noticeable sweetness when compared to dark chocolate, as well as lighter in color and with a lesser taste. It is also overheats more easily and can be hard to temper for use as an ingredient in pastries.

(Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.)