What Exactly Is Bittersweet Chocolate!?!?!?!?

Baking By kelleygirl Updated 14 Feb 2006 , 10:03am by cande

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kelleygirl Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 9:36am
post #1 of 10

Hello everyone. I need some help. I made icing last night that called for bittersweet. I, for some reason, thought that bittersweet was the same as "unsweetened" chocolate. Boy was I wrong icon_confused.gif This icing, although it had a wonderful chocolate flavor and aroma, wasn't sweet at all even with the granulated sugar the recipe called for. I had also planned to make a more stable chocolate icing for piping. It called for eggwhites and bittersweet chocolate. So in my crazy mind, I thought, "if I use milk chocolate in this recipe instead of bittersweet (whatever that is), it's extra sweetness will counteract the non-sweet of the other icing. Boy, was I wrong again. Using milk chocolate added too much "butter" by way of cocoa butter and with the rest of the butter, it was way too soft icon_cry.gif. I really wanted to break down and cry. I hadn't planned my time very well so it was late and I was very near hysterics. What i decided to do was mix the two icings together and refrigerate. The end result... Tastes wonderful but had to alternate piping bags and put them in the freezer to maintain the stiffness.

So my question is.... What in the world is Bittersweet Chocolate?

9 replies
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Lazy_Susan Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 9:58am
post #2 of 10

Hi! This link may help to explain for you icon_smile.gif


Lazy_Susan icon_wink.gif

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JennT Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 10:30am
post #3 of 10

I just watched a show about this last night....Ham On The Street, on Food Network. From what he said: unsweetened chocolate is 100% cacao (the bean chocolate comes from); bittersweet is 80% cacao, with sugar and other ingredients making up the other 20%; and so on and so forth with semi-sweet and milk chocolates. Basically, the lighter the color of the chocolate, the more sugar, milk, etc. there is and the less cacao or actual chocolate there is. Cacao itself tastes horrible on its own, but when the sugar and milk, or milk solids, etc are added then it becomes the yummy stuff we know and love as chocolate! So, from what I can tell, bittersweet chocolate is sweetened the tiniest bit, just a baby step away from completely unsweetened...it gives the rich chocolate flavor without the sweetness but makes it more edible...lol. Hope this helps... icon_smile.gif

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kelleygirl Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 10:58am
post #4 of 10

Thank you. So I guess in the future. I need to use semi-sweet when the recipe calls for bittersweet. We don't have a choice of bittersweet over here. Not that I can find.

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MelC Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 1:55pm
post #5 of 10

If you must use semi-sweet instead of bittersweet, you will need to cut down on your other sugar in the recipe... most dark chocolates are classed as bittersweet (just find one that's at least 70% cocoa solids and it'll be great!)

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kelleygirl Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 3:25pm
post #6 of 10

The brand we have over here in our local commissary (grocery story) doesn't designate the % of cocoa solids. All we have as an unsweetened, semi-sweet, milk and sometimes white. All are Baker's brand except for the Milk which is nestle.

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ashianadotkom Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 3:38pm
post #7 of 10

Maybe you need to go to a gourmet market to get them .
My mom lives in holland and she can't get them in just any grocery store.
For me bittersweet is better for baking because it contains more cocoa solids so it has more flavor. Unsweetened is great too but you need to of course add a lot more sugar.

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taniabanana Posted 13 Feb 2006 , 10:10pm
post #8 of 10

Hi Kelleygirl,

Im in UK and I have used chocolate by Green & Black (website below)


They do WONDERFUL flavours, and either 80% (not bitter, just rich and dark) or 90% cocoa solids.

It doesn't look like they sell in Germany, but they do in Holland.

Lindt also make 70% & 85% cocoa solids and I'm sure you can get it in Germany. Try:


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kelleygirl Posted 14 Feb 2006 , 9:09am
post #9 of 10

Thank you all for your advice. I will look into shopping from a gourmet store. I love this site. party.gif

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cande Posted 14 Feb 2006 , 10:03am
post #10 of 10

No need to go to a gourmet store. Just go to any German grocery store and save your money icon_biggrin.gif. All the chocolates are labeled with the percentages of cacao content largely printed on the front of the bar. (I don't know if you speak German or not, but "Kakao XX% mindestens" = "minimum cacao content XX%" and is always labeled on the product clearly visible-its the law) And, it is super cheap.

At Plus, Aldi or Lidl you can buy a 125 gram bar of 70-90% (bitter sweet--just look for the % but it is usually labeled "Zart Herb", or "Zart" or "Herb" or "Zartbitter" or "Edelbitter") for around an Euro (0.75 to 1.50). It's really high quality at really great prices. (Plus has a great "noir supreme" and a lot of the Aldi brand chocolate is made by Lindt.)

Another tip: you can buy gourmet quality Kuvertüre really, really cheaply even though it is a super high quality. We would pay $8-10 at home for the same product that sells for 0.50-0.75 (200 g or 7oz) here. You can use it a million different ways for coating or adding to recipes or piping. You can buy milk chocolate couverture or bitter sweet couverture. The white chocolate is also really great and natural. Thanks to the strict regulations on food labeling it makes it really easy to find the good quality products.

Hope that helps!

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