Unsweetened, or bitter, chocolate is made by crushing roasted cacao beans, also called cocoa beans, and releasing the liquor which is poured into molds for hardening. It contains no sugar and has a sharp, unpleasant taste. Used in cooking and baking, unsweetened chocolate must be paired with a sweetener, usually sugar or an artificial sweetener such as sucralose, which normally takes place as the recipe ingredients are combined. In some cases, you may want to sweeten the chocolate before adding it to a recipe, such as when you are using it alone as a dip for fruit or baked goods, as a hard shell topping for ice cream or as a glaze. You can also sweeten unsweetened chocolate to use as a substitute in recipes that call for semi-sweet chocolate. Once melted and sweetened, the chocolate can be used immediately or hardened and stored for future use.
Things You'll Need
Double Boiler Method
Fill the bottom half of the double boiler with one or two inches of water, and place on stove burner. Bring water to a boil, and then reduce to low or just enough to keep the water hot but not boiling.
Select the amount of chocolate according to weight, which is usually ounces, and chop or grate it. Measure the sugar or artificial sweetener and place it in a small bowl at a ratio of 2 tablespoons for every 1 ounce of chocolate, and set aside.
Transfer the desired amount of chocolate to the top section of the double boiler and place it over the bottom section. Leave the cover off and stir the chocolate frequently as it starts to melt.
Start adding the sweetener in small amounts, using more or less than the standard ratio according to your tastes. Stir after each addition until the sugar or other sweetener has completely melted and no longer feels gritty when you press the spoon on the side of the pan.
Turn off the burner and carefully remove the top pan from the double boiler. Proceed with your recipe or pour the melted chocolate into a bowl to cool.
Prepare the chocolate and the sugar or artificial sweetener amounts separately. Transfer the chopped or grated chocolate a microwave-safe bowl and place it in the microwave oven. Set the oven on medium power and microwave uncovered for 60 to 90 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the microwave oven and stir. Add the sugar or sweetener and stir well to combine. Microwave for another 30 seconds, remove the bowl and stir until all the chocolate pieces are completely melted and the sugar or sweetener no longer feels gritty against the side of the bowl.
Use the melted sweetened chocolate immediately or pour it into a separate container and refrigerate for future use.
You can buy unsweetened chocolate in several forms that include bars divided into one-ounce blocks, solid bars or chips, which eliminate the need for chopping or grating. If using divided bars, simply break off the amount you need and store the rest. If using a solid bar, weigh the desired amount on a kitchen scale, or break the bar into sections based on its total weight. Example: a four-ounce bar will break into four one-ounce sections if cut evenly. You can also melt and sweeten the entire bar using a ratio of sweetener equivalent to its total weight.
If you don’t own a double boiler, place a metal or glass bowl over a saucepan filled with hot water. It’s a little less stable than a standard double boiler, so be sure to hold the bowl while you’re stirring the chocolate. Wear an oven mitt or use a potholder, because the bowl will get very hot.
References and ResourcesThe Cook's Thesaurus: Chocolate
Baking911: Chocolate and Cocoa
What's Cooking America: Chocolate Substitution Chart -- How to Substitute Chocolate in Your Cooking
Eat By Date: What Is a Substitute for Chocolate?
Ghirardelli: Chocolate Melting
Stevia Info: Stevia Cooking Tips
National Confectioners Association: How Chocolate Is Made
Splenda: Splenda Brand Measurement Conversion Chart
The Kitchn: Double Boilers: What Are They and How Is One Used?