A stroll down the candy aisle of the grocery store presents an overwhelming range of chocolate types. We went shopping and bought every possible variety of chocolate on offer, then compared them. Now you'll know how they differ and their best uses in cooking.
Table of Contents
11 Popular Chocolate Types
Each variety of chocolate contains varying levels of cocoa fat, cocoa solids, milk powder, and sugar. Adjusting the ratios of these ingredients can produce any kind of chocolate, from the super-intense 100% cocoa down to sweet, milky white chocolate.
1. Raw Chocolate
Cocoa Mass: 100%. Sugar: 0%. Milk Powder: 0%.
Raw chocolate is intensely bitter and most people won’t enjoy it eaten as a snack. 100% pure chocolate is only made from cocoa beans without the addition of sugar. This is a bitter chocolate that is best used with other ingredients to help balance out the bitterness.
The lack of sugar makes it an appealing option as a healthier snack than regular chocolate. This chocolate type is also called unsweetened chocolate, cacao liquor, bitter chocolate, cacao paste, or baking chocolate.
Raw chocolate is pure with no sweetness and if you replace it in a recipe with regular chocolate, you’ll need to reduce the added sugar. In some baking recipes, this may not be possible so try to stick with the unsweetened variety if possible.
Uses: Truffles, stews, pot roasts, or eaten on its own.
2. Dark Chocolate
Cocoa Mass: 35-99%. Sugar: 1-65%. Milk Powder: <12%.
Sugar is added to dark chocolate to reduce the bitter taste. If you enjoy intensely flavored dark chocolate, then choose a bar with a higher ratio of cocoa solids.
Although some enjoy eating dark chocolate on its own, many still find it too bitter, especially kids. It is an excellent option for use in desserts such as chocolate ice cream as it combines well with sweet ingredients.
Uses: Brownies, mousses, cakes, cookies, ganaches
3. Dark Milk Chocolate
Cocoa Mass: 35-60%. Sugar: 20-45%. Milk Powder: 20-25%.
Dark milk chocolate is a good compromise between the sweetness of milk chocolate and the bitterness of dark chocolate. By adding more milk solids, the melting point of the chocolate reduces and results in creamier chocolate.
Uses: A confectionery snack or for grating over hot beverages and desserts.
4. Milk Chocolate
Cocoa Mass: 20-35%. Sugar: 25-55%. Milk Powder: 25-35%.
Milk chocolate is the most popular kind of chocolate thanks to a milder, less intense flavor. It is often flavored with nuts, fruit, candy, and other ingredients.
In some cases, the cocoa butter is left out and cheaper vegetable oils are used instead. This produces lower quality chocolate.
Uses: Snacking, baking, sauces, icing, chocolate fountains, dipping fruit.
5. White Chocolate
Cocoa Mass: 30%. Sugar: 40%. Milk Powder: 30%.
Kids love white chocolate, probably thanks to its sweetness. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids, just cocoa butter. The flavor in white chocolate mostly comes from the added milk powder, vanilla, and sugar. In the United States, cocoa butter must make up at least 20% of the ingredients to be labeled chocolate.
Uses: Confectionery snacks, baking, icing, ganache, candy coatings. It makes a useful candy melt substitute.
6. Ruby Chocolate
Ruby chocolate is a pastel pink product that gets its color from ruby cacao beans. It has a natural berry flavor with a smooth texture and sweetness that compares to white chocolate. Alternative names for this product include ruby cacao and ruby couverture.
Uses: Baking, icing, and candy-making.
7. Chocolate Baking Chips
Chocolate chips have a reduced percentage of emulsifiers, stabilizers, and cocoa butter to help maintain their shape during baking. Although they’re excellent added to cookies, brownies, and cakes, they can also be melted into mousses, drinks, and sauces.
Uses: Baking, melting, choco chip ice cream.
8. Candy Coating Chocolate
Candy coating chocolate is also known as melting chocolate and usually replaces cocoa butter with other cheaper ingredients like palm oil, sugar, and soy lecithin. These additives help the chocolate set quickly without the need for tempering.
9. Gianduja Chocolate
Gianduja chocolate is an Italian confection that combines hazelnut paste with dark or milk chocolate, and sugar. It is sold as a smooth spread, candies, or a block form. It is commonly added to gelato and baked goods.
Uses: Baking, desserts
10. Couverture Chocolate
Couverture chocolate is a premium product containing more cocoa butter than other chocolate types. It is an excellent ingredient for chocolate tempering and candy making as it melts evenly and quicker than other options. Couverture is available in dark, milk, and white varieties.
Uses: Tempering, candy-making, desserts.
11. Compound Chocolate
Compound chocolate is a cheap alternative to real chocolate and is made from a range of ingredients like cocoa, sweeteners, and vegetable oil. Although this type of chocolate doesn’t have the delicious flavor profile of the real thing, it is still useful in the kitchen and is easy to work with.
Uses: Melting, desserts, baking.
Make use of this table as your cheatsheet for the 11 most popular types of chocolates and their best uses in baking or cooking.
|Type of Chocolate||Uses|
|Raw Chocolate||Truffles, stews, pot roasts, or eaten on its own.|
|Dark Chocolate||Brownies, mousses, cakes, cookies, ganaches.|
|Dark Milk Chocolate||A confectionery snack or for grating over hot beverages and desserts.|
|Milk Chocolate||Snacking, baking, sauces, icing, chocolate fountains, dipping fruit.|
|White Chocolate||Confectionery snacks, baking, icing, ganache, candy coatings. It makes a useful candy melt substitute.|
|Ruby Chocolate||Baking, icing, and candy-making.|
|Chocolate Baking Chips||Baking, melting, choco chip ice cream.|
|Candy Coating Chocolate||Melting.|
|Gianduja Chocolate||Baking, desserts.|
|Couverture Chocolate||Tempering, candy-making, desserts.|
|Compound Chocolate||Melting, desserts, baking.|
Official F.D.A. Chocolate Standards
- Semisweet dark chocolate must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor.
- Milk chocolate must have at least 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids.
- White chocolate contains no cocoa solids and needs to contain 20% cocoa butter to be labeled chocolate.
Chocolate liquor, or cocoa liquor, is a semi-solid or solid cocoa mass. It is made from cocoa beans and contains roughly equal amounts of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
Commonly Asked Questions
The percentage displayed on a chocolate bar label shows the amount of cocoa butter and cocoa powder used in the chocolate. A higher percentage results in a less sweet product and usually increased bitterness. Lower percentage chocolate has more sugar and other additives resulting in a sweeter product.
To make chocolate, beans are removed from the pod of the theobroma cacao fruit and fermented before being dried. The beans are then roasted and cracked to remove the unwanted shells. What remains are cocoa nibs which can be ground into cocoa butter. Sugar and other ingredients are added before finally being tempered into the final product.
Did you know? Chocolate combines cocoa, sugar, caffeine, and theobromine, which is what provides a "chocolate high."
There are a wide number of chocolate types that vary by country. In the United States, there are seven broad types: buttermilk chocolate, milk chocolate, mixed dairy product, skim milk chocolate, sweet chocolate, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, and white chocolate.
In the United States, white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter to be labeled chocolate.
The terms bittersweet and semisweet chocolate are used interchangeably. However, bittersweet typically has a higher cacao content than semisweet chocolate and has less sugar. They both make excellent substitutes for German chocolate.
The white, dusty coating that occasionally develops on chocolate is called bloom and is considered harmless. Bloom is the result of ineffective tempering or chocolate that’s been stored in warm or humid conditions.
A few drops of water can cause chocolate to seize and turn lumpy. To get rid of the lumps either add more chocolate to dilute the water or, if possible, add cream which will also help remove the lumps.
The main building block of chocolate is the cacao bean. These pods come in a range of flavors depending on the strain and region of origin. The Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Ecuador, and Brazil are all major producers of cacao beans.
The cacao-producing giants supply to large companies like Nestle and Mars who then blend the beans from different regions. There are various reasons for blending including efficient sourcing and flavor consistency.
Our Sources For This Review
We got most of our chocolate from the candy aisle of the grocery store. For the lesser-known products like Gianduja, Couverture, Raw, and Ruby, we visited the QV Market.
They have a delicious section of chocolate in blocks.
What is the best chocolate?
Couverture is the ideal option for tempering chocolate that looks shiny and snaps when broken. A quality Belgian Dark Semisweet will cost a little more than everyday chocolate at the supermarket, but it will provide a better final product.
To quickly melt chocolate that is smooth-flowing, your best bet is Wilton Chocolate Pro. It is perfect for cookies, desserts, dipped strawberries, and even chocolate fountains.
Need a snack?
For quality milk chocolate that everyone loves, try Lindt CLASSIC RECIPE Milk Chocolate Bar, Chocolate Candy for the Holidays, 4.4 oz. (12 Pack)—smooth, creamy chocolate that’s delicious. Try caramel with sea salt or milk hazelnut for a break from plain chocolate.
Did you know? Cocoa beans were even used as a currency by ancient civilizations. The Aztecs revered the cocoa bean and believed they’d find heaven through the cocoa tree.
Chocolate products come in a wide range of varieties which each have a vastly different flavor. Kids tend to gravitate towards white or milk chocolate bars because they aren’t as bitter. With age, people’s taste buds mature, and dark chocolate gains appeal.
What’s your favorite variety of chocolate for use in the kitchen? Reach out to us and let us know if we’re missing something.