Chips & Chunks: Choosing the Best Chocolate for Cookies

There are so many options when you head to the store to pick up chocolate for your next cookie-making adventure. There are all different shapes, sizes, grades, colors — the list goes on. All that really matters in the end is that you end up with the tastiest cookie possible, so here are a few pointers to make that possible!

When it comes to chocolate for a cookie recipe, there are a few things to consider:

• What type of mouthfeel do you want?
• What's accessible to you?
• How long and hot will the cookies be baking?
• How much are you willing to spend?

In answer to those questions there is one broad answer followed by a few smaller pointers. The first is to buy the best quality chocolate from what's available to you in the price range you can afford. It sounds simple, but when it comes down to it, chocolate is chocolate (even if it's that kinda fake chocolate) and the end result will taste good no matter what.

That said, here are a few additional thoughts on acquiring the perfect chip, chunk or piece of chocolate for your cookies:

• On Mouthfeel: Chips (small or large) will give you more cookie to chocolate in every bite while chunks, bits of bars, and pistoles will give you more chocolate in each bite. Just make sure you don't go overboard; your cookie should still hold together. Remember, you wanted a cookie, not a brownie.

• On What's Accessible: Having lived all across the country I can speak firsthand to the vast differences of chocolates available to you. In some places, larger namebrand chips aren't even carried in grocery stores, and specialty stores don't exist. Look for whole bars in the candy aisle at a big box store for a better quality.

• How Long and How Hot Will They Be Baking? The longer a cookie is in the oven, the longer your bits of chocolate will have to melt and puddle slightly. If your cookies bake for a mere eight minutes, your chocolate will not melt much. If they're in for 12 minutes or more they will have melted down and be a little flatter in the cookie.

• How Much Are You Willing To Spend? When it comes to chocolate the sky is the limit. You can find superstar examples of artisan chocolates in most major metros. That said, they aren't something we'll be tossing into a cookie anytime soon. Enjoy them for what they are in the form them come in. Bite-sized truffle? We'll take it. Elegant hand-poured bar with custom wrapping? Even better. That said, there is a step down from high end artisan and things labeled "baking chips" instead of chocolate chips because there isn't much chocolate to them. Buy what you can afford and although you might have to save up a little, you will be rewarded.

In Conclusion: Although we don't have loyalty to any particular brand (we use several), we quite often turn to cut up pieces of chocolate bars over chips to save in cost (when on sale, they can usually beat out a bag of chips by a few dollars!) and to give us a more bittersweet flavor without the additional price. If your local grocer sells chocolate pistoles they are a big chunk of chocolate for a cookie with smooth edges that give great flavor but they usually are a bit higher in price. Chips are chips, just watch out for imitation chocolate. Although they'll work in a pinch, they're not our first choice!

Do you have anything to add to the points above? Let us know in the comments below!

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Chocolate

(Image: Flickr member emseearr licensed for use by Creative Commons)

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