Chocolate is made by roasting and grinding cocoa beans. Unadulterated chocolate is called unsweetened chocolate, baking chocolate or bitter chocolate. Bittersweet, semisweet or sweet chocolate has been enhanced with different amounts of sugar, vanilla, or lecithin. Milk chocolate has added dry milk. White chocolate is not chocolate at all; it contains only cocoa butter from the cocoa bean with sugar and vanilla.
Season: available year-round
How to select: You can buy chocolate in chips, chunks and bars and in many flavors.
How to store: Tightly wrapped n a cool dark place, baking chocolate can last up to 10 years. In warmer temperatures the outside will turn grey as the cocoa butter rises to the surface. Milk chocolate and white chocolate will only last 9 months, due to the milk solids.
How to prepare: Melt slowly over a double-boiler or low heat or it will scorch. Remove from heat before completely melted and stir til smooth. You can melt chocolate WITH liquid, but adding moisture to melted chocolate will cause it to "sieze" into clumps and crack. Correct this problem by adding 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil for every 6 oz. of chocolate and remelt.
Matches well with: almonds, bananas, caramel, cherries, cinnamon, citrus, coffee, coconut, cream, ginger, lemon, liqueurs, maple, mint, mocha, nuts, orange, pecans, pistachios, raspberries, rum, vanilla, violets, walnuts
Substitutions: Unsweetened, baking and bitter chocolate can be used interchangeably. Bittersweet, semisweet or sweet chocolate can often be used interchangeably, just check the percentage of sugar or pure chocolate and adjust sugar as necessary. Milk chocolate cannot be substituted for the others because it contains milk.