Recipes

Best chocolate for baking

What is the difference between unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet and milk chocolate, and what type of baked goods would you use each for?

The secret life of red wine vinegar

How long is red wine vinegar good for, and how should I use it?

According to the Vinegar Institute in Atlanta, an international trade association that represents vinegar makers and bottlers, wine vinegars should last indefinitely. Due to the high acid content in vinegar, it’s naturally self-preserving and doesn’t need refrigeration. Over time, the colour of a red wine vinegar may lighten or sediment may develop in the bottle, but these changes won’t affect taste. It’s still perfectly safe to use.

Red wine vinegar is good for salad dressings, marinades and sauces. It adds punch to vegetable dishes and dips, too. Looking for a salad with zing? Try our Spinach and Basil Salad.

Fresh herb know-how

In recipes that call for dry spices such as basil or oregano, how much fresh herb do you use when substituting for the dry ones?

There is no correct formula for substituting fresh herbs for dried, as each herb differs in taste and pungency. We have a general rule of thumb in the Chatelaine Test Kitchen, however: substitute 1 tsp (5 mL) dried herbs (leaves only, not ground) for 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh herb leaves. If using dried ground herbs, we recommend a 1/2 tsp (2 mL) for every 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh leaves called for in the recipe. Taste the difference fresh basil makes in our Basil-Chili Chicken.

Baking soda basics

Is there a substitute for baking soda?

Unfortunately, there is no replacement for baking soda, a leavening agent in baked goods such as cakes, cookies and breads. The combination of baking soda and an acid such as yogurt, citrus juice or sour cream creates carbon-dioxide gas bubbles that puff up dough or batter. Although baking powder contains baking soda, it also has cornstarch and acidic cream of tartar mixed in. That means if your recipe is baking soda-based and you use baking powder instead, you may end up with flat, funny-looking treats! To see baking soda work its magic, try our Chocolate-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies.

Best chocolate for baking

What is the difference between unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet and milk chocolate, and what type of baked goods would you use each for?

The major difference between chocolate types is the proportion of chocolate liquor (melted unsweetened chocolate), cocoa butter and added ingredients such as emulsifiers and flavourings.

Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate with at least 50 per cent cocoa butter and no sugar added. It tastes quite bitter on its own, but the intense flavour holds up well in sweet high-fat recipes such as brownies and cakes. Enjoy it in our Aztec Brownie Pie.

Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate have varying amounts of sugar, flavourings and extra cocoa butter added to the chocolate liquor. Many bakers use them interchangeably. Look for bars that have 65 to 70 per cent cocoa butter – they’re the best quality. Try them in truffles, chocolate sauce, molten chocolate cake or our Chocolate Pudding Cake.

Milk chocolate contains milk solids, sugar and a lower proportion of chocolate liquor than darker varieties. Most of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. It’s lighter in colour and has a mild chocolate taste. That high sugar content makes it a little finicky to bake with, so I advise against substituting milk chocolate in recipes that don’t call for it. It’s great for chocolate chip cookies, mousse and chocolate bars, though. Feeling decadent? Bake up our Two-Tone Chocolate Torte.

Best chocolate for baking

What is the difference between unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet and milk chocolate, and what type of baked goods would you use each for?

The major difference between chocolate types is the proportion of chocolate liquor (melted unsweetened chocolate), cocoa butter and added ingredients such as emulsifiers and flavourings.

Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate with at least 50 per cent cocoa butter and no sugar added. It tastes quite bitter on its own, but the intense flavour holds up well in sweet high-fat recipes such as brownies and cakes. Enjoy it in our Aztec Brownie Pie.

Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate have varying amounts of sugar, flavourings and extra cocoa butter added to the chocolate liquor. Many bakers use them interchangeably. Look for bars that have 65 to 70 per cent cocoa butter – they’re the best quality. Try them in truffles, chocolate sauce, molten chocolate cake or our Chocolate Pudding Cake.

Milk chocolate contains milk solids, sugar and a lower proportion of chocolate liquor than darker varieties. Most of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. It’s lighter in colour and has a mild chocolate taste. That high sugar content makes it a little finicky to bake with, so I advise against substituting milk chocolate in recipes that don’t call for it. It’s great for chocolate chip cookies, mousse and chocolate bars, though. Feeling decadent? Bake up our Two-Tone Chocolate Torte.

Best chocolate for baking

What is the difference between unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet and milk chocolate, and what type of baked goods would you use each for?

The major difference between chocolate types is the proportion of chocolate liquor (melted unsweetened chocolate), cocoa butter and added ingredients such as emulsifiers and flavourings.

Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate with at least 50 per cent cocoa butter and no sugar added. It tastes quite bitter on its own, but the intense flavour holds up well in sweet high-fat recipes such as brownies and cakes. Enjoy it in our Aztec Brownie Pie.

Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate have varying amounts of sugar, flavourings and extra cocoa butter added to the chocolate liquor. Many bakers use them interchangeably. Look for bars that have 65 to 70 per cent cocoa butter – they’re the best quality. Try them in truffles, chocolate sauce, molten chocolate cake or our Chocolate Pudding Cake.

Milk chocolate contains milk solids, sugar and a lower proportion of chocolate liquor than darker varieties. Most of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. It’s lighter in colour and has a mild chocolate taste. That high sugar content makes it a little finicky to bake with, so I advise against substituting milk chocolate in recipes that don’t call for it. It’s great for chocolate chip cookies, mousse and chocolate bars, though. Feeling decadent? Bake up our Two-Tone Chocolate Torte.

Come back next Monday for another problem solved!