Choosing the right chocolate

Chocolate pudding 

Not that long ago, when a recipe called for chocolate, your options at the supermarket were limited to just one or two brands, with a likewise limited range within them (usually the choices were only one type each of milk and dark chocolate). Now, the choices can be overwhelming: white, milk, and dark chocolates from many different brands, with various cocoa percentages ranging from 35% to 85%. Finding the right option for a recipe can be confusing, so the folks at Consumer Reports have developed a guide for choosing the appropriate chocolate.

The magazine gets its advice from a few chocolate experts, including Alice Medrich. The article quotes her 2013 book Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate. "Unless a recipe specifies high-percentage chocolate, stick with chocolate in the 54 to 60 percent cocoa range," says Alice. "Otherwise you'll have to adjust other ingredients." One chart in the article explains the differences between different types of chocolates, and another handy table outlines the substitutions you can make when you don't have time to run to the store.

The guide also offers advice on storing and melting chocolate. While dark chocolate can last for years, Consumer Reports recommends using milk and white chocolate within a year of purchase because of their milk content. If you are looking for recommendations on brands, however, you'll have to find another source as the article doesn't suggest particular products. Since the flavor profiles of chocolate vary widely and are subject to personal preferences, that means you will need to buy several different varieties and taste them all of them. (Darn, you'll just have to eat more chocolate.)

Photo of Alice Medrich's chocolate pudding from Saveur Magazine

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