Skip to main content

How to Pick Chocolate & Cocoa Percentages

Learn how to pick chocolate, including how to pick a cocoa percentage, in this Howcast food video featuring pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse.


Hi, my name is Katie Rosenhouse, and I want to talk about how to choose chocolate.

Sometimes, when you walk into the supermarket, it can be totally overwhelming. You see 1200 types of chocolate bars. Which is the best for the dessert that you're going to be making?

Well, let me give you some pointers.

You always want to choose a really high-quality chocolate, especially for something like chocolate candies or chocolate truffles. You want something that's going to be a pure, beautiful chocolate that's going to melt well. It’s going to temper well. That means nice snap and sheen. So, brands like Valhrona, beautiful chocolate. Scharffenberger that I have right here, Cacao Berry, and Guittard, all really beautiful brands of chocolate.

If you're lucky enough to be located in New York City like I am, you have some really great local purveyors, especially ones out of Brooklyn. There are really some fantastic chocolates. My best advice, give things a try. Taste them. Find out what you like and what you don't.

And most importantly, never use something like baking chocolate or chocolate chips when you're doing things like really high-quality chocolate desserts. They're great for chocolate chip cookies, but definitely not something you want to use for something a little more impressive.

So, if you talk about percentages of chocolate, we're starting with the darkest. You can go as high as 100% or 99% chocolate. That means you have 99% cocoa solids. So that is like, pure dark chocolate, really no fat and sugar. You have something that is extremely bitter. Don't give it to your kids. They'll definitely hate it.

As you work your way down, you get into something like a 70%, which can actually be something really beautiful, especially if you're just having a block of it as a dessert after dinner or with a cup of coffee. Really bitter chocolate. Again, 70% means 70% cocoa solids. So that means 30% fat and sugar. It's really good for you and really healthy, with nice antioxidants, really great.

Something a little more palatable is 62%. You can into it at 55%. Then, of course, you have your milk chocolate, which happens to be my secret pleasure. This is a 41%, which means 41% cocoa solids and 59% fat and sugar, so all the good stuff.

So, again, when you're in the store, try things out, give different percentages and brands a try. You'll be surprised with what you'll love.

Popular Categories