5 Useful Things to Know About Baking with Chocolate

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

When it comes time for dessert, I’m about as predictable as they come. I go straight for the item with the most chocolate each and every time. Cake, brownies, cookies, chocolate-dipped candies — yes to them all.

And when baking these treats at home, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind about working with chocolate that will give you a better and more flavorful dessert.

1. A long serrated knife is the easiest way to chop chocolate.

For big chunks and heavy bars of chocolate, a serrated knife is the easiest and fastest way to cut it down to size.

2. Boost the chocolate flavor of your dessert with espresso.

Up the chocolate flavor of your recipe by adding a shot of espresso or a couple spoonfuls of extra-dark coffee along with the liquid ingredients, or even espresso powder. It will really enhance the chocolate flavor without adding a strong coffee taste.

3. For melted chocolate, skip the chips and go for the real deal.

Unless a recipe specifically calls for chocolate chips, keep them in the pantry and use real chocolate instead — especially when melting chocolate. Chips were formatted to be able to hold their shape, so there are better choices when a recipe calls for melted chocolate.

4. Use a water bath for a foolproof way to melt chocolate.

There are more than a few ways to melt chocolate, but according to Alice Medrich, your best bet is using a water bath. Not only can you see what’s happening, but you also have more control over the process and are less likely to burn your chocolate than if you were using a double boiler or the microwave.

5. Melt when mixing chocolate into a recipe; temper when making a candy coating.

Melting and tempering chocolate are two different processes, and they manipulate the chocolate in different ways. Stick with melting when adding the chocolate to a recipe, but temper it when it’s being used as a coating for cookies and candies.