Unsweetened chocolate is a baking ingredient. It is often used to make chocolate cakes, brownies or icing. It contains about 45 percent cocoa solids and 55 percent cocoa butter with no added milk solids or sweeteners. On its own, unsweetened chocolate tastes bitter and is inedible. However, you can transform unsweetened chocolate into edible dark chocolate by following steps that involve melting the chocolate and adding a sweetener and other ingredients to taste, such as cacao butter, nuts and spices.
Fill 2/3 of the bottom compartment of a double boiler with hot tap water. Place it on the stove burner and set to medium heat.
Turn the burner to low heat after the water in the double boiler starts simmering. Dry the top compartment of the double boiler thoroughly and place it over the compartment with the simmering water.
Chop the unsweetened chocolate into small, uniformly sized pieces using a knife and a cutting board.
Add the chocolate pieces to the top compartment of the double boiler. Stir them with a rubber spatula until they are about 3/4 melted.
Remove the top compartment of the double boiler from the simmering water and place it on a cool surface.
Add 1/3 to 1 tbsp. sugar, sweetener or maple syrup per 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cacao butter, unsalted butter or vegetable oil, if desired, to adjust the consistency.
Stir the mixture continuously for four to five minutes.
Fold in nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts or peanuts, and spices, such as ground vanilla bean, cinnamon or chili powder, if desired.
Consume the chocolate mixture as it is or pour it into a candy mold to cool. To speed the cooling process, you may put the filled candy molds into a refrigerator, but do not leave them there for more than 30 minutes.
If you do not have a double boiler, you may melt the unsweetened chocolate in a microwave. Place the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl that does not retain heat and set the microwave to low power. Stop the microwave and stir the mixture every 30 seconds. You can make milk chocolate by adding heavy cream and more sweetener to the melted chocolate mixture.
Make sure that the water in the bottom portion of the double boiler does not become too hot. It should never surpass a simmer. Do not let any amount of water mix with the chocolate. Even one droplet ruins the texture of the chocolate.
Karen Smith has been writing professionally since 2008. Her articles are published in the "Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History" and the upcoming "Dictionary of African Biography," as well as on Patheos.com and in volumes of "Anthropology News," "Contemporary Islam," "Islamic Africa" and "American Ethnologist." She has a Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology.