What Is The Best Chocolate For Chocolate Chip Cookies?
I tested different kinds of chocolate to find the best chocolate for chocolate chip cookie recipes! Chocolate is the most important part of any chocolate chip cookie recipe; your choice can affect the flavor, texture, and even appearance of your cookies.
In this post, I explore different flavors of chocolate (dark versus milk versus white chocolate), shapes of chocolate (chips versus chunks versus chopped chocolate from a bar versus fèves), and rank some of the most popular chocolate chip types. And here’s what I found:
The best chocolate for chocolate for chocolate chip cookies is a dark chocolate with between 60% to 70% cacao. For a bakery-style chocolate chip cookie that will bake wide and flat, with picturesque specks and/or puddles and pools of melted chocolate, use chopped chocolate from a high-quality baking bar like Ghirardelli and/or splurge on Valhrona fèves.
@hummingbirdhigh the best chocolate for #chocolatechipcookies! #bakingtiktok #baking101 ♬ The Great British Bake Off – Tom Howe
But let’s dig in:
Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate In Cookies
You can customize any chocolate chip cookie recipe by using different kinds of chocolate. Here’s the pros and cons of each variety:
Why You Should Use Dark Chocolate In Chocolate Chip Cookies
Use a dark chocolate that contains between 60% to 80% cacao for a classic chocolate chip cookie. The bittersweet flavor of the dark chocolate balances out the sugars in the cookie dough, resulting in a well-balanced, traditional chocolate chip cookie.
Dark Chocolate Deep-Dive: What’s The Difference Between Bittersweet and Semisweet Chocolate?
In the United States, there’s no official benchmark for the “bittersweet” and “semisweet” chocolate designations. It’s up to manufacturers to determine how much cocoa to use, and percentages will vary greatly from brand to brand. Because of this, I advise you to ignore these bars and stick with a dark chocolate that lists its cocoa percentage.
Like Ghirardelli! Although Ghirardelli sells a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar, they also sell a 60% cacao baking bar and a 70% cacao baking bar. These baking bars are easily found in most major supermarkets in the United States.
The Case For Using Milk Chocolate In Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you have a sweet tooth, use a milk chocolate that contains between 35% to 45% cacao. Milk chocolate is sweeter in flavor than dark chocolate, and will result in a much sweeter cookie. If you want to temper the sweetness of the milk chocolate, use half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate.
The Case For Using White Chocolate In Chocolate Chip Cookies
White chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa, and is the sweetest of the three chocolates. Although you can use it in any chocolate chip cookie recipe, the resulting cookies will likely be too sweet. I suggest pairing it with other flavorful ingredients like cocoa powder, warming spices, coffee and/or tea, or nuts to help balance the cookie.
Check out the following recipes for inspiration:
- Dulcey White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
- Matcha White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Cookies
- White Chocolate and Espresso Bean Cookies
What about unsweetened chocolate?
Unsweetened chocolate is 100% cacao chocolate, with no added sugar. Folks like to use unsweetened chocolate in baking because it can give baked goods a very intense chocolatey flavor. However, on its own, it can be quite bitter.
If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you can use unsweetened chocolate in your chocolate chip cookies. However, I don’t recommend it for most people. Even with a sweet cookie dough base, you’ll likely end up with chocolate chip cookies that aren’t as sweet as you want them to be.
Chocolate Chips, Chunks, Bars, and Fèves In Cookies
It turns out that the shape of your chocolate is just as important as the flavor you choose. Generally, you can use the following types of chocolate in cookies:
- chocolate chips
- chocolate chunks
- chopped chocolate from a baking bar
- chocolate fèves
Why You Should Use Chopped Chocolate OR Baking Fèves In Chocolate Chip Cookies
Both chocolate chips and chunks are designed to hold their shape during the baking process. Manufacturers will either use more cacao solids (which don’t melt as easily) or even add ingredients like paraffin wax or palm oil. These additives can affect the taste of the chocolate. You can learn more in this Taste article (in which I’m quoted arguing against chocolate chips!).
To avoid these additional ingredients in chocolate chips and chunks, I like to use either chocolate from a baking bar or chocolate fèves instead. Baking bars and fèves don’t contain any of the additional ingredients found in chips and chunks. Instead, they contain more cocoa butter. The cocoa butter makes the chocolate taste richer and smoother, and allows it to melt more easily when warmed. These translate to melt-in-your-mouth chocolate specks and/or pools and melted puddles of chocolate in chocolate chip cookies!
What are chocolate fèves? Are they the same thing as chocolate baking discs and wafers?
Chocolate fèves are a fancy pastry school term for a flat, bean-shaped disc of chocolate. When baked in a cookie recipe, the fèves don’t hold their shape (similar to how chocolate chips typically do) and instead melt into puddles. These puddles give your cookies thin layers of chocolate throughout every bite. The most prominent maker of chocolate fèves is one of my favorite chocolate makers, Valrhona Chocolate.
Unfortunately, as much as I love Valrhona chocolate, their chocolate fèves can be hard to find at your average grocery store. I typically buy Valrhona products online at Amazon, King Arthur Baking Company, or Valrhona’s online store. But if you don’t want to buy online, rest assured that other chocolate makers make similar products. Notably, Guittard Chocolate Company makes chocolate wafers. These wafers are similar to fèves, but more circular in shape. I’ve seen Guittard chocolate wafers at select Safeway, Target, and Whole Foods stores.
What other chocolate do you recommend besides fèves?
If you can’t find fèves, I also recommend Guittard Chocolate Wafers (which are more readily available in most major supermarkets). If you’re on a budget, I recommend chopping up a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar or Ghirradelli baking chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips. Either finely chop or roughly chop up the chocolate and use it in the chocolate chip cookie recipe of your choice!
Deep-Dive: The Difference Between Roughly Chopped And Finely Chopped Chocolate
If you want larger pools of chocolate in your cookie similar to the taste and appearance you would get when using fèves, roughly chop the chocolate baking bar into 1- to 2- inch pieces. Doing so will result in chocolate chip cookies with giant pools and puddles of melted chocolate throughout.
If you want a more speckled look for your cookies, finely chop the chocolate bar into ⅛-, ¼-, and ½-inch pieces. This method will result in a chocolate chip cookie with a “freckled” chocolate appearance, with a smoother mouthfeel without the chocolate pools of fèves.
Do I really need to use chopped chocolate or fèves? Can I just use chocolate chips?
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it’s this: don’t skimp on chocolate! Most grocery store brands—even the ones that offer products specifically made for baking—contain all sorts of additives like paraffin wax and palm oil. These ingredients compromise the flavor and texture of your results. I’ve stopped using chocolate chips in 90% of my recipes, and my baked goods have tasted so much better as a result.
The Case For Using Chocolate Chips and Chunks
I admit there are still lots of times in which it’s appropriate to use chocolate chips and chunks! I like to use chocolate chips and/or chunks when I’m craving a puffier chocolate chip cookie that tastes homemade, with distinct bites of small chocolate here and there.
Here are other instances where I like to use chocolate chips:
- When I’m making a cookie recipe that I want to taste homemade and/or nostalgic and evocative of tastes and flavors from my childhood (like these recipes for My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe and Small Batch Magic Cookie Bars).
- When I’m making a recipe for a baked good like cakes or muffins, with softer textures that need a contrasting bite or crunch (like in these recipes for Momofuku Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Cake and Small Batch Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins).
- When I’m making a recipe that calls for using chocolate as a topping (like in these recipes for My Best Fudgy Brownies Recipe and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread).
A Summary Of How The Shape Of The Chocolate Affects Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Chips. Use chocolate chips if you want your cookies to look homemade, with distinct, whole morsels and round pieces of chocolate throughout the cookie. Chocolate chips also make puffier, thicker cookies that don’t spread as much when they bake.
- Chocolate Chunks. Most chocolate chunks are made using the same process as chocolate chips. The only difference is that they either come in square/rectangular shapes (like Nestle Toll House), or jagged shards of chocolate (like Trader Joe’s).
Similar to the case for chocolate chips, use chocolate chunks if you want your cookies to look homemade. They will have distinct, whole pieces of rectangular-shaped chocolate throughout. Because the chunks won’t melt during the baking process, using them will result in puffier, thicker cookies.
- Chopped Chocolate From A Baking Bar. Unlike chocolate chips and chunks, chopped chocolate melts when baked, leading to melty specks and pools of chocolate in the cookies.
Use chopped chocolate if you want a professional looking chocolate chip cookie that looks like it was made by a bakery. If you want larger pools of chocolate in your cookie, roughly chop the chocolate bar into 1- to 2- inch pieces. If you want a more speckled look for your cookies, finely chop the chocolate bar into ⅛-, ¼-, and ½-inch pieces.
- Chocolate Fèves. Chocolate fèves (or discs or wafers) are made with the same chocolate as baking bars. I like to think of them as pre-chopped baking bars that are already the perfect shape and size for creating giant pools of chocolate in chocolate chip cookies.
Use chocolate fèves if you want a professional looking chocolate chip cookie that looks like it was made by a bakery. They make wide cookies that are full of layers of pools and puddles of melted chocolate.
@hummingbirdhigh chips vs chunks vs bars vs fèves!!! #chocolatechipcookies #baking #bakingtiktok ♬ The Great British Bake Off – Tom Howe
The Best Chocolate Chips For Any Baking Recipe
Not all chocolate chips are created equal. Some contain more cacao solids and/or artificial additives that negatively affect the taste of the chocolate.
I tested four popular brands and found my favorite variety in the TikTok video below. Although there are more chocolate chip brands and types available, I chose chocolate chip brands that listed their cacao percentages on the packages to start with:
@hummingbirdhigh taste testing all the best chocolate chips so you don’t have to! #chocolatechipcookies #easyrecipes #lifeadvice #cookinghacks #baking ♬ Patisserie Skills – Tom Howe
The TL/DR of the video:
- Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips. These chocolate chips actually melted pretty similarly to chopped chocolate bars and/or fèves, and tasted great. They are shaped flatter and wider than other chocolate chips, resulting in flatter cookies that spread generously in the oven. They are the chocolate chips I usually stock in my pantry as they are readily available in most major grocery stores.
- Guittard 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips. I liked the way these chocolate chips tasted on their own. In my opinion, they tasted best and I would happily snack on them forever. But didn’t like how they baked in my chocolate chip cookie recipe. They melt at all and maintained their shape throughout the baking process, leading to extra puffy and chunky textured cookies.
- Nestle Toll House 53% Chocolate Morsels. Of all the chips I tried, these had the worst flavor and texture. They tasted the least chocolatey and had a weird, waxy shine and feel. Their only advantage is that they cooled quickly, allowing you to store the cookies faster.
- Trader Joe’s 72% Cacao Chocolate Chips. I was super impressed with these chocolate chips. Similar to Ghirardelli, they tasted great and melted like chopped chocolate and/or fèves. Similar to Ghirardelli, they are flatter and wider than the other chocolate chips on this list. Their only disadvantage is that you can only buy them at Trader Joe’s.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes on Hummingbird High
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.