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6 Simple Chocolate Recipes for Newbie Bakers

6 Simple Chocolate Recipes for Newbie Bakers

Chocolate has a reputation for being difficult to work with, and it often lives up to that hype. Because it’s sensitive to moisture and heat, chocolate can be a finicky ingredient. But just because you’re not a whiz in the kitchen doesn’t mean you should be prevented from cooking with chocolate. Get your feet wet with these simple chocolate recipes for newbie bakers.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If the title of this recipe has you drooling, you’re off to a good start. These ooey gooey bars virtually melt in your mouth and are packed with a toasted, nutty, buttery flavor. And while the recipe calls on slightly more advanced baking skills in order to successfully brown the butter, it’s actually quite easy to make (and well worth the extra step!). Semisweet chocolate chips get added into the dough right before baking in order to infuse extra flavor and texture into these delectable treats.

Chocolate Bark

Tasty, portable, classic, and oh-so-easy to make: This chocolate bark recipe has it all. Tailor the recipe to your own taste buds by opting for milk or semi-sweet chocolate, which will be melted down and then topped with the add-ons of your choosing. Anything from dried fruits to toasted nuts or seeds, candied ginger, and cocoa nibs works well, so let your palate do the picking! This recipe doesn’t actually require you to turn on the oven, but it does require a baking sheet and parchment paper, so baking accessories are required.

Mocha Chip Muffins

Chocolate muffins aren’t generally known for their health benefits, but these Mocha Chip Muffins defy that general rule thanks to the use of whole-wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce and ground cinnamon (to reduce the sugar content), and heart-healthy olive oil. Add in a hearty dose of antioxidants by choosing dark chocolate chips.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Not only are these chocolate cookies outrageously tasty, they’re also outrageously easy to make. The recipe doubles down on chocolatey flavor thanks to eight ounces of semisweet chocolate and 12 ounces of chocolate chunks (Pro Tip: don’t let the shape fool you, pick your favorite chocolate bar and chop into your desired size). The key to achieving a soft, gooey, chewy texture is to aim for a thinner batter (more resembling brownie batter than conventional cookie dough) and to avoid over-baking.

Pistachio, Apricot and Dark Chocolate Energy Bars

These bars make for a bona fide healthy snack or breakfast, but they taste more like dessert. Their health appeal stems from good-for-you almond butter, pistachios, mixed seeds, dates, and dark chocolate. Oh, and did we mention they’re vegan? You can whip up these healthy treats in total of 50 minutes; once they’re ready to serve, consider pairing them with a warm cup of coffee or tea to treat your body and mood.

Simple Chocolate Cake

The name says it all: This chocolate cake is exceptionally simple to make. And once you’ve mastered it, you can tick off one of the boxes for becoming a bona fide baker. (After all, there are few baked goods more classic than chocolate cake.) The recipe derives its chocolatey flavor from cocoa powder in the batter and dark chocolate in the icing. And it can expand with your baking skills—as you get more comfortable with the basic version, consider swapping out the chocolate icing for a filling of whipped cream and jam.

From cakes to muffins to cookies, these recipes allow you to flex your baking muscles while your taste buds reap the fruits of your labors.

Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate?

Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate?

It’s a question that can stump even your most intellectual friends: Is white chocolate really chocolate?

Given that the term “white chocolate” literally contains the word “chocolate,” anyone could be forgiven for thinking the answer is “yes”. But the dark chocolate purists in your midst will probably be quick to tell you that white chocolate is nothing like their preferred treats.

If you’re a white chocolate lover, brace yourself for what’s about to follow: Unfortunately, the (purists/sticklers) win this round. White chocolate is not, in fact, actual chocolate. Here’s why.

What’s the Deal with White Chocolate?

In order to qualify as chocolate, a product must contain cocoa solids. And white chocolate does no such thing. Instead, it’s usually made from a combination of cocoa butter, lecithin (a fatty emulsifier), milk products, sugar, and vanilla.

“But wait!,” the white chocolate lovers might say. “Doesn’t the cocoa butter count as chocolate?”

The answer is once again, “nope”. Cocoa butter is derived from cocoa beans, but it doesn’t contain the cocoa solids that define chocolate. Here’s how it works: When cocoa beans are harvested, they’re extracted from their pods and then put through a fairly lengthy process that involves being fermented, dried, roasted, opened, and shelled. Inside of that shell is the chocolate nib, which then gets ground into a paste to form chocolate liquor. That liquor then gets divided into cocoa solids (which are responsible for providing the chocolatey flavor and brown color found in dark and milk chocolates) and cocoa butter (which is essentially just fat without much flavor).

Only cocoa butter (not cocoa solids) is used in the process of making white chocolate. Because the cocoa butter doesn’t really taste all that great on its own, it gets added to the other ingredients listed above in order to confer the smoothness and sweetness that you probably associate with white chocolate. In the U.S., the FDA mandates that white chocolate contains at least 20 percent cocoa butter, 14 percent milk solids, and 3.5 percent milk fat. Sugars and other sweeteners must be limited to no more than 55 percent of the product.

All of that is to say: It’s true that one of the primary ingredients in white chocolate is derived from cacao beans, which makes it a pretty close relative of dark and milk chocolate. But because white chocolate doesn’t contain any of the cocoa solids that confer chocolatey flavor, it simply can’t qualify as actual chocolate per current standards.

Of course, this doesn’t mean white chocolate isn’t a worthy treat in its own right. Many people prefer its flavor and texture over dark and milk chocolate, and it’s frequently used in a variety of baking projects.

Bottom line? White chocolate may not technically be chocolate, but it is delicious. And that alone is enough reason to embrace dark chocolate’s slightly offbeat cousin.

6 Delectable Sweet-and-Salty Recipes

6 Delectable Sweet-and-Salty Recipes

There’s a reason people love the combination of sweet and salty flavors: Research suggests sweet taste receptors on our tongues are activated by the presence of salt, resulting in a flavorful explosion in our mouths.

But you probably didn’t need us to tell you that. If you’re among the many (many) people who love consuming sweet and salty flavors together, these six recipes are just what the doctor ordered.

Dark Chocolate Tahini Bars

Don’t let the fact that these bars are vegan and gluten free deter you—they’re absolutely packed full of flavor. The three-layered bars also boast a variety of textures: The bottom consists of a crunchy chocolate-oat crust, the middle is a creamy and salty tahini filling, and the whole thing gets topped off with sweet, full-bodied dark chocolate. The best part? It only takes 10 minutes to prep these bars before they hit the oven.

Milk-Chocolate Tart with Pretzel Crust

This tart allows you to enjoy all the flavors and textures of a chocolate-covered pretzel in an even more delectable form. The crunchy crust incorporates crushed pretzels, flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, while the creamy filling is packed with chocolatey flavor thanks to a whopping ¾ pounds of milk chocolate. The whole thing gets topped off with a sprinkle of sea salt and crushed pretzels for an extra sweet-and-salty finish.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies

Who doesn’t love a good chocolate brownie? This recipe incorporates salted caramel into the mix to put a salty twist on the American classic. Loads of dark chocolate and a heaping 1/3 cup of salted caramel gives these brownies a serious sweet-and-salty kick. The recipe is very straightforward and makes 16 servings—so bring these ooey, gooey treats to a picnic or potluck in order to impress your squad.

Salted Caramel Cups

Don’t let their fancy appearance fool you: These salted caramel cups are made from only four ingredients, including chocolate chips, caramels, milk or heavy cream, and coarse sea salt. Making these delectable treats entails melting the chocolate, “painting” it into lined muffin tins, melting down the caramel filling, and then “painting” more chocolate on top in order to create something like a homemade peanut butter cup (only with caramel instead of peanut butter). That might sound complicated, but it takes a measly 30 minutes to create these pretty single-serving treats.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark

This paleo chocolate bark is surprisingly healthy and super easy to make. It requires only four ingredients, the first three of which are chock full of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and fats respectively. Those ingredients are dark chocolate, dried cherries or cranberries, whole pecans, and sea salt. It takes less than 30 minutes to whip up this tasty treat, so make sure you have an appetite whenever you start cooking.  

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Stout Cake

A lot of people love beer, and a lot of people love cake. Put the two things together, and you’re in for a real treat. This decadent recipe contains copious amounts of chocolatey cocoa powder without turning dry. That’s thanks to Guinness stout beer, which adds extra richness and moistness to the batter. The stout beer caramel drizzled over top of the cake takes things to another level.

It’s official: These sweet-and-salty chocolate recipes are scientifically proven to delight your taste buds.