Cooking Conversion of Semi Sweet Chocolate

by Kathryn Hatter

    Semi-sweet chocolate, a dark chocolate variety, also carries the name “bittersweet” chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate contains a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor according to the All Chocolate website. Your choice in chocolate for cooking and baking depends on the finished results you desire. Take note of cooking conversions for semi-sweet chocolate to make sure that the treats you make go over well with the gang.

    Chocolate Varieties

    Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate have a rich taste due to the high percentage of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. Sweet chocolate contains about 15 percent chocolate liquor and milk chocolate contains about 10 to 12 percent. Unsweetened or baking chocolate contains pure chocolate liquor without added sugar. White chocolate contains 20 percent cocoa butter and 14 percent milk ingredients but no nonfat cocoa solids.

    Standard Conversions

    Because bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate are the same product, recipes may list either ingredient interchangeably. There is no conversion necessary to use an ingredient labeled bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. If you want to use cocoa powder instead of semi-sweet chocolate, use 1 tablespoon and 1 3/4 teaspoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter to equal 1 ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, according to the Joy of Baking website.

    Melting Methods

    Chopping or shredding baking chocolate enables faster and better melting. The Nestle company recommends three different methods for melting baking chocolate. You can microwave it at high power for about one minute. Stir the chocolate and then microwave it for a few seconds at a time, stirring frequently. Melt semi-sweet chocolate in a saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until it melts. Melt semi-sweet chocolate in an uncovered double boiler over hot water. Remove the chocolate from the heat when it starts melting.

    Troubleshooting

    Semi-sweet chocolate will “seize” if you do not melt it properly. When melting chocolate seizes, it gets hard and lumpy instead of smooth and creamy. Seizing can occur if you accidentally add extra moisture to the melting chocolate. Keep extra ingredients out of the melting chocolate to prevent seizing. Another melting issue that can make chocolate seize is high temperatures. Keep the melting temperature low and remove the semi-sweet chocolate from the heat immediately after it finishes melting. If your semi-sweet chocolate seizes, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or shortening to 1 cup of chocolate to make it smooth again.

    About the Author

    Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator and regular contributor to "Natural News." She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, crocheter, painter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. Hatter's Internet publications specialize in natural health and she plans to continue her formal education in the health field, focusing on nursing.

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