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  everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate... continued
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Types of chocolate

Chocolate is enjoyed by millions of people around the world every day, but there are many types of chocolate available. Learn about the many types of chocolate and what to use for creating your amazing desserts.

Bittersweet chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate is a form of dark chocolate that is only very lightly sweetened. It is less sweet than semi-sweet chocolate although the two may be interchanged in most recipes.

Cocoa powder: Cocoa powder is a dry powder made by grinding cocoa beans. During processing, most of the cocoa butter is removed. Cocoa powder is frequently used in baking or to make hot chocolate.

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is sweetened, but cannot contain any milk products. It must have a minimum percentage of 15% chocolate liquor to be labeled dark chocolate in the United States. 

Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate has milk blended into the chocolate mixture for a creamy, mellow flavor.

Semi-sweet chocolate: Semi-sweet chocolate is a form of dark chocolate. It usually has a lower sugar content than chocolate sold as candy and is often used for baking.

Unsweetened chocolate: Unsweetened chocolate does not contain any sugar. It is the purest chocolate, made simply of ground cocoa beans, and is also referred to as chocolate liquor or baking chocolate.

White chocolate: White chocolate is not really chocolate at all. It often contains cocoa butter, but none of the chocolate liquor that defines a substance as chocolate. It is ivory in color and creamy in taste and texture.

Selecting high quality chocolate

Yes, there really is a difference between chocolates! Throughout the production process, there are many opportunities to affect the quality of the chocolate. The beans must be of high quality and should be slowly sun-dried to preserve their superior characteristics. In addition, the best chocolates are conched for up to three days to make them incredibly silky. The ingredients blended with the chocolate are also very important. High quality vanilla, pure cane sugar and flavorings are all necessary for the most delectable end-product. Some less expensive chocolates use fillers such as paraffin; they make the chocolate more stable for storage or shipping, but do nothing for the flavor.

 While traditionally European chocolates have been considered superior, some North American makers are now producing excellent gourmet chocolate. Of course, the taste of chocolate can be subjective, so the best thing to do is to try a lot of varieties yourself. For some of the finest chocolates in the world try products by Scharffen Berger of Berkeley, California, French Valrhona or Swiss Lindt. They all make bars that can be used in baking as well as eaten plain.

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