3 expert tips when baking with chocolate

Alice Medrich, cookbook author and culinary educator in Berkeley, CA, shares her secrets for using chocolate in every day recipes.

In 1972, Alice was in her early 20s and living in Paris with her husband. For her birthday, her landlady made her tiny, cocoa-dusted bittersweet chocolate truffles. "I had never tasted anything like it," Alice says. In 1976, she opened Cocolat, a chocolate dessert shop in Berkeley, California, that was credited with introducing truffles to Americans. Her chocolate empire included seven stores before being sold to investors. "I still make those truffles," she says, "but with even better chocolate."


1. Use the best chocolate you can afford.
Whenever you splurge on special chocolate, use simple recipes that don't use too much butter, cream, sugar or distracting spices that might mask the chocolate. "You want the chocolate to shine through," Alice says.

2. A white film, or "bloom," on chocolate is caused by temperature changes.
The chocolate's texture and taste may be affected, but if you melt it in a baking recipe, the flavor will return.

3. Know when to swap milk, white and dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate and white chocolate may be substituted for one another in recipes, but sub in dark chocolate only when "used as chips or chunks that remain intact." For recipes that call for bittersweet or semisweet without specifying cacao percentage, use chocolate with no more than 62 percent cacao to prevent less-than-desirable results, such as a dry cake.


Chocolate Cake »
Chocolate Sauce »
Cocoa Frosting »
Chocolate Bar »

By Teri Tsang Barrett | Photography by Dave Lauridsen

6 Decadent Chocolate Desserts »
Taste Test: The best boxed chocolates »
Taste Test: The best hot chocolates »
Premium Chocolate Bars: A cheat sheet »
See all chocolate dessert recipes »