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Too-dark chocolate transformation?

I decided to get a few of TJ's dark chocolate choices to compare based on price and flavor. The 85% cocoa solids one is just too bitter for me, with too much of a fermented fruit undertone. I would like to use it up
in blondies or choc chip cookies. Would it work if I melted it down, sweetened it, and allowed it to cool, then chopped it up? Ideally, I'd use a combination of sugar and splenda, but was also wondering if brown sugar would work.

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  1. I think what you're suggesting would work -- the effect on the texture shouldn't matter much since you're baking it anyway -- but adding some milk (maybe evaporated or sweetened condensed milk) seems like a better bet than just adding sugar. Also, this sounds like a lot of work. Why not just chop it into relatively small pieces and also incorporate small chopped pieces of milk chocolate or some sweeter/lighter chocolate?

    1. I think dark brown sugar works fantastically in dark chocolate. Sugar of any sort (I don't know about artificial sweeteners, don't use them myself) will go a long way to cut the bitterness. As for the fruity undertones, it may help, or it may be a quality of the chocolate. Different chocolates have those kinds of undertones. Columbian chocolate tastes kind of like coffee, for instance, and I think Peruvian chocolate tastes a little bit like blueberries. Most chocolates are blends designed to have a more neutral taste, but you might just not like TJ's blend.

      1. I would not think that you would need to do that to use it in either of those applications.
        They both have very sweet bases and the ratio of Chocolate to other small. It should cover the flavor profile that you do not care and there is plenty of Sugar to sweeten it up.
        Add some Coffee Flavor would also mellow the Fruityness

        1. What about mixing it w/ a little milk chocolate?

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            That's what I would do.

            Or, chop it up along with some white chocolate and make "black white chocolate chip cookies".

          2. I think you could use it as is in blondies, which are very sweet. I like mark Bittman's recipe.

            1. instead of adding sugar, you could melt it with a lower % (60-70) chocolate, let it cool, then chop it and use as planed.

              1. if it were me,
                i'd use to to make hot fudge sauce.
                use your chocolate instead of the cocoa powder that the recipe calls for and reduce the amount of sugar

                1. If you add any form of sugar in granules, the sugar will NOT dissolve in the chocolate, and this will not be changed by baking it either. You'll end up with a very grainy, coarse chocolate similar to Cioccolato Modicana. Even confectioners' powdered sugar will be a bit gritty, and again the sugar will not dissolve.

                  In addition, if you simply melt it down and allow it to cool the chocolate will fall out of temper (the cocoa butter will separate), and the result will be unappealing. Whatever you do you need to temper the chocolate, unless you plan on mixing it with some other fat to stabilise it.

                  A liquid sugar like glucose in very small amounts could add sweetness without affecting the texture too badly, but if you're not careful you'll end up with chocolate sauce.

                  As recommended, the best way to dilute it is to mix it with a lower-percentage formulation. Milk chocolate, however, can be difficult to work with and temper; you need lower temperatures than what you need for dark chocolate so your mixing challenge will be that much greater.

                  You can use the chocolate in baking recipes that call for dark chocolate melted and fully blended into the dough/batter (e.g. brownies, chocolate cakes etc.); if they add additional sugar the result will probably be sweet enough. It should be noted that 85% usually has a higher cocoa butter (fat) content - 45-50% as opposed to the 35-45% typical of lower-percentage dark chocolate. This may mean slightly adjusting the recipe to compensate for the additional fat.

                  TBridges, I'll mention too that you need to be a bit careful in characterising chocolate by country of origin of the cacao - there are are a lot of variables here and the bean type can matter just as much as the country of origin. Peru, for instance, has a wide variety of different cacaos; the mild, nuts-and-light-fruits Piura is the most prestigious, although very difficult to get in *verifiably pure* form (a lot of chocolates labelled "Piura" are getting it from mixed harvests with some Piura possibly in it - you have to verify that the manufacturer has very good source contacts and control), but at the other end of the scale there is a lot of cacao coming out of there using CCN-51, a variety with a rather vegetal, earthy flavour to it. Nice Colombia Nacional tends to be extremely fruity in a candy-strawberry type of way; the result is pleasant in high-percentage chocolates but can be cloying when the percentage is reduced. A "coffee" flavour is more typical of roast than bean, and indicates a dark roast. Your experience of Colombia isn't based on the Pralus interpretation, perchance? Pralus is legendary for a very dark roast. Some of the manufacturers operating in Colombia itself also tend to roast dark, due to local expectations.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: AlexRast

                    I was thinking about the tempering issue but does it matter if untempered chocolate chunks were added to a blondie? It would melt sooner and maybe spread more but other than that, after it's been baked the chocolate would be untempered, whether you started it w/ tempered chocolate or not.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Actually it wouldn't melt sooner, it would melt more unevenly. Also once it's fallen out of temper the flavour loss during baking would be more drastic. For some that won't be particularly noticeable, but I think you'd be likely to end up with rather coarse, grainy chunks; not the best result.

                      1. re: AlexRast

                        It would melt more quickly since tempered chocolate has a higher melting temperature. W/out retempering the chocolate, you might end up w/ a difference in color/bloom in a chocolate chip cookie but it would still be good chocolate. Once you melt tempered chopped chocolate, as you would in a cookie, it's become untempered. so I'm not sure if it matters if the chocolate starts out untempered or not.

                  2. I would simply throw it into a pot with Lots of Rum and melt the whole thing on the lowest heat possible. Stir every so often. You may need to add more Rum, as you need to achieve a smooth thick texture, thin enough to thickly pour, but not to become runny.
                    I use nowadays one of those new soft forms for bread baking and layer the chocolate with Social Tea or Leibniz cookies. ( those will work best, don't try Graham crackers)
                    Once it is firmed up, usually overnight, perhaps a couple of hours in the fridge, turn the whole thing out on a platter and cut into small slices.
                    Just google "Kalter Hund".
                    You can always add a bit of powdered sugar at the melting stage to make it sweeter.

                    1. I have successfully subbed 80-85% dark chocolate for unsweetened chocolate in recipes where the chocolate needs to be melted, such as brownies or chocolate cake. I didn't adjust the sugar at all and everything turned out fine.
                      I would suggest using it up in this way--it seems like an awful lot of work to melt, sweeten, and temper, and I don't know if it would even work.

                      1. I'd try melting it with butterscotch chips, and/or peanut butter. I love the 85% and melt it into a sauce often with heavy cream or half & half. it's powerful stuff and neither dilutes the bitterness much or takes away the wine- or tea-like undertones. I think peanut butter or some sort of creamy caramel toffee type thing would.