We tried seven varieties of semisweet baking chocolate, putting each to the test in the same basic brownie recipe. Only three chocolate brands pleased our palates.
Chocolate desserts are tremendously popular, and the quality of chocolate used is extremely important, whether it's cookies, brownies, a cake, or hot fudge sauce you're making.
To compare the merits of commonly available semisweet baking chocolates, we selected seven brands and baked a batch of brownies with each, using the same Ultimate Brownie recipe. This way we could fully assess which brands performed best.
What were we looking for? Baking chocolate that produces a brownie with rich flavor and incredibly moist texture—no bad aftertaste, no chalky dryness. In other words, addictively good results.
Best Baking Chocolate
Cons: Had an unappetizing and deceiving dry look.
Pros: This made for a moist, fudgy brownie. "It has a good chew, and a nice shattering crust that I associate with brownies," stated one editor.
(See more: Cheddar cheese taste test)
Callebaut Semi-Sweet Chocolate Block ($8.99 per pound)
Pros: Tasters liked this chocolate because it made a cakier, lighter brownie. One editor said, "It has the richest chocolate flavor of them all!"
Baker's Semi-Sweet All Purpose Baking Chocolate ($2.99)
Pros: "The smell is to die for," stated one editor. All agreed this brownie was so rich that it almost looked and tasted like ganache.
The Other Contenders
Hershey's makes a favorite chocolate for snacking, but when it comes to baking chocolate, this brand produced a pale and bland-tasting brownie. Scharffen Berger's baking chocolate was surprisingly disappointing as well. It made a beautifully dark, fudgy-looking brownie with a smooth top, but the texture was chalky and the taste muddy.
The Dagoba-made brownie had a crumbly texture, and even tasted "powdery," said one tester.
Nói Síríus stood out for its original and simple packaging, though the taste of this brownie came up short: It looked gooey and fudgy—to a fault—yet was missing an oomph of chocolate. All four brands' brownies would have been better with a scoop of ice cream.
Additional Taste Test Details
All seven types of semisweet baking chocolate evaluated are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. Listed from highest to lowest score achieved, they are: Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar, Callebaut Semi-Sweet Chocolate Block, Baker's Semi-Sweet All Purpose Baking Chocolate, Hershey's Baking Chocolate, Scharffen Berger's Semisweet Dark Chocolate Baking Bar, Dagoba Organic Semisweet chocolate for baking, Nói Síríus 45 percent Semi-Sweet Pure Icelandic Chocolate.
Methodology: In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of the same Ultimate Brownie recipe made with seven types of semisweet baking chocolate bars. Results were ranked using the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).
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