January 10: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Happy National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. Which leads to an important question: what the heck is bittersweet chocolate, anyway? And how is it different from the semisweet chocolate you use in chocolate chip cookies? 


As it turns out, not all that different. Both are considered types of dark chocolate, with some key differences.

Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate has a high cacao percentage, and contains at least 35 percent pure chocolate, to which sugar (a low percentage) and possibly flavorings have been added. Bittersweet chocolate is dark chocolate. 

Semisweet chocolate is similar, also containing at least 35 percent pure chocolate, but it typically has a higher amount of sugar, is more likely to contain flavorings or emulsifiers, and has lower cacao percentage. Because of its sweeter flavor, semi-sweet is more commonly used in baking, and it’s the go-to chocolate type for chocolate chip cookies. Semi-sweet chocolate is dark chocolate too, but not quite as dark as bittersweet. 

Can I use them interchangeably?

Yes! You can absolutely use bittersweet chocolate in chocolate chip cookies. In fact, I think that a lot of baked goods taste more refined and kind of French-y when you use bittersweet chocolate.

However, my advice is that you consider your audience when using darker chocolate in baking. Especially if you are making a baked good that kids will be eating, because in my experience, fancy chocolate is wasted on young children (including my nephew), who would probably rather be eating milk chocolate or the sweeter semisweet chocolate. 

Dark chocolate for baking and eating 

Dark chocolate, as well as semi and bittersweet chocolate, can all be eaten out of hand, or used in recipes. Its deep flavor makes it a good choice for chocolate fillings, chocolate chunks in cookies, or even a rich ganache which can be used as a filling or topping (or both!). 

Four recipes with bittersweet chocolate for you to enjoy today:

Chocolate-filled chocolate cookies. (Colavita)

Bittersweet chocolate truffles. (Chowhound)

Four ingredient chocolate ganache pie. (CakeSpy)

Whole Foods copycat chocolate cake. (CakeSpy)

What is your favorite type of chocolate for baking?