Cooking chocolate is a key ingredient for baking and patisserie work, but how is it different from eating chocolate, and how should you decide which brand to pick? In this guide we delve into what makes cooking chocolate unique and how to cook with it.
What is cooking chocolate?
Cooking chocolate is a key ingredient for baking and patisserie work, whether you’re making ganache, pralines or sauces. Cooking chocolate has little or no sugar, great for adding a pure cocoa flavour without altering the sweetness of your recipes.
Another type of cooking chocolate is couverture. This variety has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than eating chocolate. It’s fantastic for tempering as it gives the chocolate a glossy sheen and clean ‘snap’. Couverture chocolate drops are favoured by professional kitchens as they can be heated, quickly and easily, offering consistent results, every time.
How to cook with chocolate?
From ganache to tarts to mousse, explore our best chocolate recipes here, and find more ideas below:
Valrhona’s passion fruit couverture gives these meringue tarts an intense burst of fruity flavour that balances against the creamy milk chocolate mousse.
Bavarois is a set custard or cream, originally from the German region of Bavaria. Set this bavarois recipe in miniature moulds, then turn out onto the plate and decorate with shavings of chocolate.
Use blonde chocolate to make this ganache-style cream dessert with a crunchy hazelnut base.
This recipe uses Valrhona's Dulcey blonde chocolate chips – a signature blend which sits somewhere between white and milk chocolate. The fudgy sweetness is beautiful, paired with layers of coffee sponge.
Intensely chocolatey, this recipe uses two types of Valrhona chocolate, in three different techniques – a glaze, crémeaux and mousse.
The combination of malty milk chocolate and caramel milk chocolate balances beautifully against the burst of citrus in these cakes.
What is the best chocolate to cook with?
When cooking with chocolate, you want to use the highest quality product possible. It’s often said that you should use at least 70% cocoa chocolate in your baking, but cooking chocolate ranges in percentage. The lower the percentage, the sweeter your bake will be.
Which cooking chocolate is the best?
Valrhona is one of the world's leading producers of gastronomic chocolate. Valrhona products are the chocolates of choice for high-end restaurants, confectioners and patisserie schools. The individually moulded chocolate chips are easy to weigh out and very quick to melt, with the trademark Valrhona feves, or bean shape.
Callebaut couverture drops are used in professional kitchens as they can be heated quickly and easily. The all-purpose chocolate can be used for making ganaches, sauces, ice creams, pralines and for doing chocolate work – such as moulding hollow figures, and intricate decorating.
Another choice is Willie’s Cacao. All Willie’s Cacao chocolates are made from ‘bean to bar’. This means the unique characteristics of different cacao varieties from around the world are brought to the fore – some might naturally taste of nuts and others of summer fruits for instance. The drops are easy to weigh and quick to melt, providing consistent results, every time you use them.
Which cooking chocolate should I buy?
Willie’s Cacao Chulucanas 70% Peruvian chef’s drops are the perfect pairing for fruity desserts. With notes of raisins and plums, this Chulucanas couverture lends itself to chocolate mousses served with berry coulis, or rich chocolate cherry cakes.
With rich, caramelised notes and a touch of malt, these velvety chocolate chips are perfect for baking as they’re easy to weigh out and very quick to melt.
Valrhona have combined yuzu juice with cocoa butter, making it possible to use this yuzu couverture like you would chocolate, in anything from truffles to homemade Easter eggs. Unlike using fruit puree or fresh yuzu, the couverture pieces give sponges or glazes the same intense fruit flavour without introducing more water to the recipe, and compromising the texture.
The dark chocolate 70% couverture is pre-tempered and, being couverture chocolate, has a 31% fat content. This ensures a quality, glossy chocolate which has a clean ‘snap’.
Callebaut’s ruby chocolate couverture is a fruity and slightly sour variety to use in your patisserie work. Despite its vivid colour, ruby chocolate has no added colours, instead it’s born from the ruby cocoa bean and boasts an intense fruitiness with sweet-sour finish.
Valrhona Caraibe dark chocolate couverture has the perfect balance of cocoa solids and sugar, giving a velvety, well-balanced flavour to ganache, pralines and cakes.
Valrhona Dulcey 35% blonde chocolate chips are smooth and creamy with a golden hue. Valrhona’s signature blonde recipe is rich with buttery, malty flavours. Unlike white chocolate it contains cocoa, but still shares some of the fudgey notes of white chocolate.
Valrhona raspberry inspiration couverture is excellent for making truffles, ganache and pralines. With a burst of intense raspberry flavour, these fruity couverture drops are perfect for tempering thanks to their high cocoa butter percentage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between chocolate and cooking chocolate?
The difference between cooking chocolate and eating chocolate is the sugar content. Cooking chocolate can be eaten straight from the packet, however it doesn’t work both ways. If you want to make the finest patisserie, use great quality cooking chocolate, not regular eating chocolate.
How do you temper chocolate?
Tempering chocolate is a very important technique for chocolatiers. It's a process of careful heating, cooling and re-heating that gives the finished chocolate an exceptionally glossy finish, smooth mouthfeel and pleasing 'snap' when broken or bitten into. Read our guide on tempering chocolate here.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.