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MomsRetro Chocolate Recipe Help and Cooking Tips

Chocolate, Bitter, Sweet or Powdered
Emergency Recipe Substitutions to
Help Chocoholic Cooks

chocolate popsIt is always a good time to bake something with chocolate.  But discovering you haven't got a crucial recipe ingredient can ruin the mood.  Knowing a chocolate ingredient "equivalent" or substitution can save the day and your favorite dish!

Today, Mom helps cooks and chocoholics with tips on chocolate and includes the world's easiest dipped strawberry recipe.

Cocoa Types

Chocolate is made from the bean of the tropical cacao tree.  In its purest baking form chocolate comes powdered, is usually sold in tins and is called cocoa.

There are two types of cocoa; regular cocoa and Dutch cocoa.  Dutch cocoa, or alkalized cocoa has reduced the natural acidity of the cocoa bean resulting in a darker, mellower, more chocolaty cocoa powder. 

Sometimes you shouldn't substitute cocoa:  Since Dutch cocoa is more alkaline, substituting it with regular cocoa may effect how your baked goods (especially cakes or souffles) rise.  Be careful and take notes for next time.

If you just need cocoa for flavoring your recipe like making frosting or something else not reliant on science to produce results, you should be able to get away with substituting regular cocoa for Dutch Process cocoa.


Cocoa powder is not to be confused with those packaged hot cocoa drink mixes, which don't work well in recipes.

Sugar and fat are usually added to cocoa powder for sweetening and consistency.  In our kitchens, fat can be in the form of cocoa butter, margarine, butter, vegetable shortening or vegetable oil.  Sugars, either powdered or granulated add sweetness and also add to consistency to recipes.  Powdered sugar will be smoother.   Visit my Sugar Substitutions Page for more info about powdered vs. granulated sugars...

chocolate bar meltingTypes of Chocolate

Choclate comes in many shapes and sizes, and can be liquid, powdered or solid. Once we understand the basics of chocolate it makes substituting ingredients much easier.  Here are some more definitions and equivalents.

Cocoa Powder

Powdered, chocolate  in its most basic form (beyond the bean).

Baking Chocolate

Generally sold in bars and measured in squares of 1 ounce each.  Normally has some fat but no sugar content.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Sold in chips or bars.  Normally semi-sweet chocolate has some fat plus a small amount of sugar.

1 square (1 oz) of baking chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon butter or margarine.

1 cup (or one 6 oz package) of semisweet chocolate  = 6 tablespoons cocoa + 7 tablespoons granulated sugar + 1/4 cup shortening.

1 cup (or one 6 oz package) of semisweet chocolate  = 6 oz or (6 squares) of semi-sweet chocolate.



Recipe:  Easy Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

This will also work with cherries or any other fruit with a skin. 

Use about 18 large fresh strawberries, room temperature and patted dry plus 1 pound semi sweet (or any type) chocolate pieces, coarsely chopped.

1.  In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Or heat the chocolate at 50% power for 30 second intervals in the microwave, carefully checking temperature until it is smooth.

2.  Using the berry stem or a toothpick, dip the strawberries into the chocolate.

3.  Cool the berries on wax paper, or put the toothpicks into Styrofoam (or a potato).

More Chocolate Dipping and Cooking Tips

The above recipe will produce tempered chocolate, or chocolate that dries to a hard shine.  If the chocolate becomes too thick to work with, add drops of vegetable oil, small amounts of vegetable shortening or cocoa butter, stirring until it becomes the right consistency. 

Do not use butter or margarine because they both contain water.

When dipping your savory tidbits into chocolate, make sure they are completely dry.  Even ONE drop of water in the melted chocolate can cause it to "seize" and make the chocolate grainy. 

Good luck and happy cooking!

Next Recipe Page: Dark, sweet and smoky Molasses Cooking Tips...
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