Tips For Cooking  With Chocolate

By: Jodie Shield, RD

My family’s favorite chocolate candy is Fannie Mae Pixies a.k.a. chocolate covered turtles. Well, I  just got back from the candy store.  Did you know a one pound box of Pixies costs $25.00!  So this Valentine’s Day, rather than buy them each a box, I am going to whip  up a chocolate dessert instead.  But cooking with chocolate can be tricky.  Here are a few of my baking secrets that I’ve learned over the years.

Most chocolates are interchangeable.  If a recipe calls for sweet, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate you can use any of them – it’s your call.  However, if a recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, make sure you use it becasue there’s really no substitute.

Make “piece” with chocolate.  If a recipe calls for chips or chocolate pieces, and all you have is a bar here’s what to do.  Coarsely chop the chocolate with a chef’s knife or use a grater.

Melt chocolate carefully.  The safest way to melt chocolate is to chop it into fine pieces, place it into a bowl over a pan of hot water, and stir until melted.  Try not to let any of the water get into the chocolate or it will cause it to seize and become grainy.  You can microwave chocolate too, but be aware that it will hold its shape even though its melted.  So make sure you stir it periodically to prevent it from burning.  Once melted, if you want to keep the chocolate fluid, place it in a bowl over hot water.

Cocoa powder caveats.  You can mix cocoa powder into other dry ingredients without any issues.  But if you are suppose to combine cocoa powder with liquid ingredients, first stir a small amount of cold liquid into the cocoa powder to make a paste.  Once it’s pasty, you can stir the remaining liquid into it.

So this Valentine’s Day, who needs candy?  Bake to your sweet hearts content.  Grab your apron, mixing bowl and let your oven do the talking.  The chocolately aroma will fill your entire house – – now that is true love!  What are you going to bake?

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