How to Sweeten Unsweetened Chocolate

By Rachel Lovejoy

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.

Chopped chocolate bars
credit: dziewul/iStock/Getty Images
The smaller the chocolate pieces, the more quickly they melt.

Double Boiler Method

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Microwave Method

Step 6

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.

Step 7

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.

Step 8

Use the melted sweetened chocolate immediately or pour it into a separate container and refrigerate for future use.