Now that I am a mother, I have never baked with 100% dark (or 'unsweetened') chocolate. This may seem strange since I own a chocolate and cake business. I usually bake with quality milk chocolate and semi-sweet dark chocolate, so I have never seen a need for unsweetened baking chocolate. In fact, whenever I am in the grocery store, I see the baking chocolates and think "who uses unsweetened chocolate and what on earth do they use it for?" But in January, during my ‘month unsweetened’, I decided to taste and compare very bitter chocolate, which included unsweetened baking chocolate.
If you were one of those children who mistakenly ate unsweetened baking chocolate, you probably think I am crazy for wanting to taste and compare the stuff. But the way I see it: someone has to do it. How else will we know which product is better, and if there is a better choice out there than the standard brand of baker’s chocolate that is always available at the grocery store?
And since I had been tasting 100% dark chocolate all last week (having worked my way up during the month of January from 70% to 100% dark chocolate), I thought my palate would be ready for comparing two unsweetened baking chocolates. What I learned is that a palate can never really be ready for unsweetened baking chocolate. I will still always make a cringy face and have an urge to eat a box of Smarties afterwards just to get the taste of it out of my mouth. Some of the fine chocolate producers, like Canada’s Soma and France’s Pralus make 100% dark chocolate that does not cause that reaction, but those are meant for tasting only and just too expensive to bake with. So unsweetened baking chocolate is the best choice for use in home-baking, and of course, is meant to be sweetened in whatever recipe we are using it for.
-Cuisine Camino (Fair Trade, Organic) Baking Chocolate with 100% cacao, 200g package
-Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, 100% Pure, 225g package
Since Camino's products are now offered all across Canada at a variety of retail stores, I thought it would be a good alternative to the traditional Baker's chocolate that our mother's used. It is organic and Fair Trade, so we are being both environmentally and socially responsible when we use it.
As for the taste comparison, the Baker’s chocolate was pasty and chalky and it stuck to all areas of my mouth. Cuisine Camino’s chocolate had more flavour (it is from a single origin: Peru, and therefore one can expect more flavour from the beans) and was acidic, yet the flavour was light and airy, despite being a completely unsweetened chocolate.
Although Camino products have been popping up at national grocers all over Canada, if you cannot find their unsweetened chocolate at a retailer near you, do not fret because they are now selling their products online! I was on their website last week and discovered this new feature. Check it out: http://www.lasiembra.com/camino/store/.
I found Baker’s brand of unsweetened chocolate at the grocery store. I also located Kraft (who owns the Baker's brand) unsweetened baker’s chocolate in bulk, repackaged on site by my local health food store.
here), but I changed it a little bit. I baked it in a round 9” pan, and changed the pecans to 1 cup of chocolate chips. I also had to bake it for 10 minutes longer (45 minutes) because the pan was round and the center needed longer to cook. It was the best batch of chocolate brownies that I have eaten in a long time!
I came up with a mint brownie recipe as well for the Cuisine Camino unsweetened baking chocolate. And I have more recently created dark chocolate truffles and ganache recipe for 100% dark chocolate. Click here for the recipe.
In the end, the two baking chocolates tasted different in their pure form, but both turned out well in the recipes that I tried them in. So the choice is less about taste and more about your preferences: do you want a healthier, more socially resposible chocolate or are you okay with the regular brand?
As per all my posts, here are the package details on the chocolates that I tasted today:
Cuisine Camino (Fair Trade, Organic) Baking Chocolate with 100% cacao, 200g package
La Siembra Co-Operative (Ottawa, Canada)
Made in Peru
Organic Ingredients: Cocoa mass*, cocoa powder*, cocoa butter*. *Fair Trade Certified. 100% cacao. Certified organic by QAI.
Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, 100% Pure, 225g package
Les Cuisine KRAFT(r) Kitchens
Ingredients: unsweetened chocolate (K35C) Manufactured on equipment that processes milk.