Semisweet Chocolate vs Bittersweet Chocolate
Ahh, chocolate. Edible nirvana. I’m all about it in desserts and candy but outside of traditional Mexican mole, I haven’t played with it in many savory dishes. Enter this Chili with Dark Chocolate.
Here’s the thing with chocolate; it’s not just for dessert and Halloween anymore. Chocolate was first used as a means of currency and as a beverage by the Aztec, Mayan and Toltec civilizations. Remember Montezuma, the Aztec emperor? He may well have been the original chocoholic. Historians believe he drank as many as 50 goblets of chocolate EVERY. DAY. I’m feeling a lot better about my frequent chocolate cravings now.
Chocolate in its natural form actually has no sugar in it. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Ripened chocolate pods are picked from the cacao tree. The pods contain cocoa beans, which are dried in the sun for several days. The dried beans are cleaned, cured and roasted to develop flavor before being crushed to remove the shells. What’s left? Chocolate nibs, which are shipped to manufacturers where they’re crushed to form a paste called chocolate liquor (no relation to actual liquor) or chocolate mass. The mass is what’s used to make other products.
For me, there were two types of chocolate — milk chocolate and the rest. Milk chocolate contains chocolate mass plus sugar, vanilla, other flavors and milk solids. This is the chocolate most of your favorite candy bars are made of. It’s not typically great for baking because the milk solids burn easily.
At the other end of the spectrum is unsweetened chocolate, pure chocolate liquor (chocolate mass) that’s hardened and contains no sugar or milk solids. This is the chocolate you sneaked from your mom or grandma’s kitchen only to have your tastebuds assaulted by its harsh, bitter taste. The perfect culinary kharma.
Dark chocolate was always a mystery to me so choosing semisweet chocolate vs bittersweet chocolate seemed tricky. Here’s what I didn’t know – semisweet and bittersweet chocolates are both considered dark chocolate. Who knew I’d been making dark chocolate chip cookies all of these years? Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate can be used interchangeably so long as you don’t mind bittersweet chocolate’s deeper (more bitter) flavor. Its deeper flavor is due to the fact that bittersweet chocolate is typically 65% pure cacao or more while semisweet can contain 50-65% cacao.
Now that you’re up on all things cacao, let’s get back to the Chili with Dark Chocolate. It may sound like an odd pairing but dark chocolate actually lends a deep, rich flavor to the spices used in this chili. With Halloween around the corner, this is a great way to put those Hershey’s Special Dark miniatures that your kids may not want to good use. Stir the chopped chocolate in after the chili has simmered for 20-25 minutes (or at the end of cooking if you’re making this in your slow cooker). It’ll give your chili an extra layer of flavor that will taste even better the day after it’s made. Experiment with the chocolate to find your favorite and let me know who wins the battle of semisweet chocolate vs bittersweet chocolate in your kitchen.
Watch me make my Chili with Dark Chocolate LIVE on Great Day Washington!
Add the chocolate to taste. Start with 2 oz listed in the recipe but add more, one ounce at a time, if you want a stronger chocolate flavor.
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