Zero info online to convert bittersweet to semisweet

jally

How do you convert 4 oz. of Baker's bittersweet baking bar (66% cacao)

to become semisweet - more like 56 percent cacao NOT 66?


Do you add white sugar? How much?


I'd posted this Q on Houzz/Other, but my Q had been misinterpreted, such that I was referred to some frugal site which didn't address my specific conversion Q.

...for some reason everyone seems to think that everyone wishes to convert to bitter versus sweeter.


I didn't know the GW cooking forum existed anymore, until someone there clued me in. It's very hard to navigate Houzz. I mean, there's the Houzz logo above, yet the Gardenweb URL. Very confusing.

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Comments (10)
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plllog

I'm glad you found your way here. I haven't done it, but I'm good at searches. :)

Try this one:

https://whatscookingamerica.net/ChocolateSubstitutionChart.htm#:~:text=Bittersweet%20and%20semisweet%20chocolate%20may,ounce%20semi%2Dsweet%20baking%20chocolate.

The Spruce Eats says this:

"Bittersweet and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

A bit of cacao is the only difference between these two flavors. The FDA requires bittersweet chocolate to contain at least 35 percent cacao, but most manufacturers make their bars with 50 to 60 percent.

The term "semi-sweet" isn't regulated by the government, but most bars have between 15 and 35 percent cacao. Semi-sweet chocolate also tends to have a bit more sugar than bittersweet, though this isn't always the case."

This is also very informative:

https://www.bakersdozensf.org/resources/Documents/BD%20Chocolate%20Substitutions.pdf

This is a good guide, thought their formula for semi-sweet is from unsweetened rather than bittersweet:

https://www.berries.com/blog/chocolate-substitute

Just a Pinch has the best list, I think, but it's a bit hard to read:

https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cake/chocolate-substitution-chart-how-to-substitute-cho.html

Good luck!

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ediej1209 AL Zn 7

My first thought was to mix bittersweet and milk chocolate in maybe a 4:1 ratio but that might come out sweeter than you are wanting? plllog has found some great resources. Glad you found your way here, welcome aboard!

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Cloud Swift

The milk in milk chocolate might be unwelcome.

I think that the reason you can't find conversion information is the variation in the terms from product to product. For example, for Guittard (my favorite chocolate brand) Semi-sweet is 64% cacao which is almost the same as Baker's bittersweet at 66%. Guittard's bitter-sweet is 70%. I assume that that means that the Guittard bars are close to 36% and 30% sugar since the only other ingredient is sunflower lecithin (an emulsifier) which presumably is a pretty small percentage.

If the chocolate is a small part of the ingredients and there is other sugar, I would just use the same amount of bittersweet as a bit more chocolate and a bit less sugar will be fine.

If the recipe has a very high amount of chocolate or almost no other sugar, you might add a little sugar to compensate for the chocolate not having it. Say 10% of the weight of the chocolate you are putting in. Even then, I might just use the chocolate and enjoy a slightly less sweet result.

I usually just use the Guittard bitter-sweet as most recipes have more than enough sugar and I like the chocolate amped up a bit.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

I think it depends on what brand & what you're doing with it. I haven't really noticed a huge difference between the 2 Target brand organic chips/chunks I buy, but I like dark chocolate. Bittersweet is def. a bit less sweet than semisweet for sure.

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lisaam

What cloud swift said. Use the chocolate as is in a baking recipe.

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jally

Follow-up - note that during my endless research i came across a guy with the identical Q as mine, who was likewise at wits end. I believe his Q was approx. 10 years ago.

In the Bakers Dozen site it states:

Use 30% to 35% less chocolate. Add 1.5 tsp sugar for every oz. choco called for.

My question is - does it sound safe to use 1.5 tsp sugar for every oz. called for? That would make 8oz. bittersweet call for 12 tsp. sugar.


P.S. In my opinion, most info is actually not online. There's so much info i've needed over the years which i never got answers to, it's a joke.

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Cloud Swift

We have explained why you can't find an answer on line. There is no flat answer because there bittersweet and semisweet don't have a tight definition. Variation is broad enough that one brand's bittersweet may be another brand's semisweet. My Guittard semisweet is almost the same cacao percentage as your Baker's bittersweet.

Assuming that any ingredients in the chocolate other than cacao or sugar are negligible, Baker's bittersweet is about 34% sugar and semisweet is about 44% sugar. The precentages are by weight. So an ounce of Baker's bitter sweet has about 0.34 oz of sugar and semisweet has about 0.44 oz of sugar - a difference of 0.1 oz. A cup of sugar weights about 7 oz. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup and 3 tsp in a tbsp so a tablespoon of sugar weighs about 0.15 oz so if you wanted to compensate, it would be around 2/3 of a tsp per ounce of chocolate. The Baker's Dozen website is calling for twice that much additional sugar.

It is also calling for too little chocolate. For amounts of chocolate, Baker's bittersweet has about 17% more chocolate than Baker's semisweet. 30 to 35% would about double that. They may have based their calculation on brands with a bigger difference between the two types than Baker's uses.

I'd really suggest not compensating at all, just use the recipe amounts. The difference isn't that great. But if you do, just add about 2/3 of a tsp of sugar per ounce of chocolate.

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Sammy

Why do you even need to convert 66% to 56%? There’s no real discernible difference between the two.

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plllog

All of the bakers recommend substituting weight for weight. Rather than measuring out so much sugar. Taste the batter and add a little sugar if you think it's not sweet enough. If you're not comfortable tasting raw eggs or flour because of concerns about bacteria, you can just melt the chocolate in a double boiler and taste that.

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jally

Thanks so much for the helpful suggestions! I really appreciate it, and indeed might compromise by adding sugar but not too much. :)

Some added conjectures:

Regarding the bitter taste, I have this hunch that the reason some people are more buffered, and less affected, by bitter/sour/salty/spicy/harsh/dry foods are due to the prevalence of high blood sugar in society - that's associated with sweet-saliva. I happen to favor sweet 'n sour (and sweet 'n salty) - but my key question is - do diabetics favor those combos, if after all, shouldn't "sour" actually taste "sweet 'n sour" to diabetics, given their built-in sweet-saliva? Sweet saliva i would assume buffers people from extreme tastes & textures.

There's also the supertaster vs. non-taster factor (which can be another buffer) and for all i know, being a non-taster may possibly be one of the causes of high blood sugar. After all, the miners' canaries type of tastebuds have early-warning signals (of what's too sweet or too sour etc.etc.) similar to the way people with sensitive nerves have early-warning signals of whether they're injured. Kids born without nerve-endings that feel pain are a mass of bruises. Oh, they're very cheerful, since after all, they lack pain. Likewise, i longingly eyed my acquaintance, when i saw how cheerfully unaffected she was by an extremely garlicky food-dish, while i felt half dead from it.

I don't know if any researcher has ever bothered to research this topic, if only for the purpose that food-labellers should add PH data and humectant data to their carb, fat & sodium labelling.

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