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How Do I Choose the Best Bittersweet Chocolate?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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To choose the best bittersweet chocolate, you’ll want to consider several factors. These include the amount of chocolate liquor included as well as the quality of its other ingredients. Whether you wish to eat the chocolate as is or use it as part of a recipe are also factors that will influence your choice. Personal tastes are a key consideration, and you may wish to note the dark chocolate brands you prefer. You should also note that the best bittersweet chocolate is fresh, and won't show telltale signs of age.

The definition of bittersweet chocolate may vary with national regulations. In the U.S., it must be at least 35% chocolate liquor. The higher the chocolate liquor content, the less sweet the chocolate will taste. Keep the level of sweetness you prefer in mind as you make your choice.

A bittersweet chocolate’s quality is also influenced by ingredients other than chocolate liquor. For example, you may wish to check the type of sweetener that has been used. Organic ingredients may be important to you. In that case, you may wish to select from the wide variety of organic options available commercially through grocery stores and chocolate shops as well as in health food stores.

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Another factor can be how you plan to use the chocolate. If you will be baking with it, you may wish to use bittersweet chocolate that has been developed specifically for baking. Depending on the recipe, you may find that less expensive types work just as well as expensive brands.

Some characteristics to look for in your bittersweet chocolate include a smooth, dark brown appearance. If you notice whitish areas, called “bloom,” this often indicates that the chocolate may be older or may have been stored improperly. This may have a negative impact on flavor.

The flavor should not be overwhelmed by vanilla or spices in the chocolate. It should smell simply of chocolate, without any chemical scent. Some may prefer a chocolate that is smooth, rather than grainy. Good, fresh chocolate should also break cleanly, rather than crumbling.

Perhaps the most important factor in choosing the best bittersweet chocolate is your personal preference. You may wish to sample a variety of brands, and keep notes on your experience. The notes might include the product name, and its aroma, texture and taste. You might also want to track any foods or beverages that you had with the chocolate, as those may affect the taste.

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