Friday, February 3, 2012

Unsweetened Baking Chocolate: The organic alternative to the brand we know best

Who is Crazy Enough to Taste Unsweetened Baking Chocolate? I’ll give you one guess.

As a child, did you ever go into your mother’s baking cupboard and try to sneak some yummy, sweet chocolate into your mouth when she wasn’t looking? But you quickly discover – after you popped it into your mouth - that it was unsweetened baking chocolate? Then your mother came out of the bathroom and caught you gagging in the sink with chocolate all over your face and she fell on the floor laughing uncontrollably? I personally think the reason why our mom’s always had baking chocolate in the house was to teach sneaky little sweet-toothed children a lesson.

Now that I am a mother, I have never baked with 100% dark (or 'unsweetened') chocolate.  This may seem strange since I own a chocolate and cake business. I usually bake with quality milk chocolate and semi-sweet dark chocolate, so I have never seen a need for unsweetened baking chocolate.  In fact, whenever I am in the grocery store, I see the baking chocolates and think "who uses unsweetened chocolate and what on earth do they use it for?"  But in January, during my ‘month unsweetened’, I decided to taste and compare very bitter chocolate, which included unsweetened baking chocolate. 

If you were one of those children who mistakenly ate unsweetened baking chocolate, you probably think I am crazy for wanting to taste and compare the stuff. But the way I see it: someone has to do it.  How else will we know which product is better, and if there is a better choice out there than the standard brand of baker’s chocolate that is always available at the grocery store?

And since I had been tasting 100% dark chocolate all last week (having worked my way up during the month of January from 70% to 100% dark chocolate), I thought my palate would be ready for comparing two unsweetened baking chocolates. What I learned is that a palate can never really be ready for unsweetened baking chocolate.  I will still always make a cringy face and have an urge to eat a box of Smarties afterwards just to get the taste of it out of my mouth. Some of the fine chocolate producers, like Canada’s Soma and France’s Pralus make 100% dark chocolate that does not cause that reaction, but those are meant for tasting only and just too expensive to bake with. So unsweetened baking chocolate is the best choice for use in home-baking, and of course, is meant to be sweetened in whatever recipe we are using it for.

The two unsweetened baking chocolates that I decided to compare were:

-Cuisine Camino (Fair Trade, Organic) Baking Chocolate with 100% cacao, 200g package

-Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, 100% Pure, 225g package

Since Camino's products are now offered all across Canada at a variety of retail stores, I thought it would be a good alternative to the traditional Baker's chocolate that our mother's used. It is organic and Fair Trade, so we are being both environmentally and socially responsible when we use it. 

As for the taste comparison, the Baker’s chocolate was pasty and chalky and it stuck to all areas of my mouth. Cuisine Camino’s chocolate had more flavour (it is from a single origin: Peru, and therefore one can expect more flavour from the beans) and was acidic, yet the flavour was light and airy, despite being a completely unsweetened chocolate.

In terms of baking with it, the Cuisine Camino chocolate was easier to chop. It comes in a 200 gram package with two 100 gram bars. Baker’s chocolate, on the other hand, still comes packaged in those annoying little one-ounce blocks that are nearly impossible (and dangerous too, I might add) to chop. And chop it, you must. Melting down chocolate one ounce at a time is not as easy as melting down small, chopped pieces. I am very pleased that La Siembra Co-operative, the owners of the Cuisine Camino brand, sells a baking chocolate that comes in a different format than the traditional one. 

Although Camino products have been popping up at national grocers all over Canada, if you cannot find their unsweetened chocolate at a retailer near you, do not fret because they are now selling their products online! I was on their website last week and discovered this new feature. Check it out:

I found Baker’s brand of unsweetened chocolate at the grocery store. I also located Kraft (who owns the Baker's brand) unsweetened baker’s chocolate in bulk, repackaged on site by my local health food store.

Since I had never baked with unsweetened chocolate, I decided to find or create some recipes using it. I started by trying the recipe on the inside of the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate package called “Baker’s One Bowl Brownies” (also available online here), but I changed it a little bit.  I baked it in a round 9” pan, and changed the pecans to 1 cup of chocolate chips.  I also had to bake it for 10 minutes longer (45 minutes) because the pan was round and the center needed longer to cook. It was the best batch of chocolate brownies that I have eaten in a long time!

I came up with a mint brownie recipe as well for the Cuisine Camino unsweetened baking chocolate. And I have more recently created dark chocolate truffles and ganache recipe for 100% dark chocolate. Click here for the recipe.

In the end, the two baking chocolates tasted different in their pure form, but both turned out well in the recipes that I tried them in.  So the choice is less about taste and more about your preferences:  do you want a healthier, more socially resposible chocolate or are you okay with the regular brand?

As per all my posts, here are the package details on the chocolates that I tasted today:

Cuisine Camino (Fair Trade, Organic) Baking Chocolate with 100% cacao, 200g package
La Siembra Co-Operative (Ottawa, Canada)
Made in Peru
Organic Ingredients: Cocoa mass*, cocoa powder*, cocoa butter*. *Fair Trade Certified. 100% cacao. Certified organic by QAI.

Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, 100% Pure, 225g package
Les Cuisine KRAFT(r) Kitchens
Ingredients: unsweetened chocolate (K35C) Manufactured on equipment that processes milk.


  1. Thanks for this post! Any tips on how to chop the conventional bakers chocolate?

    1. If only there was an easy way! I usually put chocolate that needs chopping in the mirowave for 10 or 20 seconds to soften it, then you get less bits of dry chocolate all over the place when you chop it. I hope that helps!

  2. Oh and loved the part about trying to sneak some bakers chocolate only to spit it out in disgust. I remember it like it was yesterday lol. I also remember getting anyone who came over to my house to try it if they didn't know what it was. Cruel I know!

  3. I think I must be crazy! I was eating a bakers dark chocolate square as I read your post. Granted, I am a self proclaimed DARK chocolate addict, and I will eat an entire bar of dark chocolate if it is sweetened (or at least, is very hard to resist from doing so). Eating the unsweetened version is the only way I am able to get my chocolate fix, without having to eat in excess. But after reading this, I think I'll have to scope out Camino's version! I was a little concerned with the true ingredients in Baker's chocolate, as it doesn't disclose very much at all on the label itself.

  4. If you are looking for other 100% dark chocolate, find them here: - including more links at the bottom of the article.

  5. This is a great unsweetened 100% dark chocolate for baking from California.
    Santa Barbara Chocolate

  6. Hello there can you help me out. my friend just bought bars and bars of 100% cocoa bars. i want to turn it into a delicious chocolate ganache. Do you have a recipe I can use.

    1. Hi! Sorry for the late response, your question seemed to take a few days to turn up for some reason. I have only tried it with 100% a few times (I usually use between 55% and 75% for ganache, sometimes 80% but it gets very bitter), but have a theory on the sugar addition. I will do some experiments tonight and get back to you tomorrow!

    2. Hi again!
      I've been experimenting for the last week and have come up with a few recipes for you. They will be on the blog later today or tomorrow!

    3. Hi! The recipe is not online:

  7. The Chocolate blog is very nice thank you for shearing that blog i love chocolate and you can b buy chocolate online .

  8. Hi all....
    Anyone knows if the "BAKER' is a Chocolate that has been Alkalized ??
    thks, Robert

  9. I should have been more specific @_# !
    I'm referring the dark 100% Baker in this story !!?

  10. Hello there can you help me out. my friend just bought bars and bars of 100% cocoa bars. i want to turn it into a delicious chocolate ganache. Do you have a recipe I can use.

    1. Hi! I have just one posted on the blog: Are they very good quality 100% bars? If so, I would just eat them. But you may need to work up to that bitterness level. If they are baking chocolate or chocolate liquor, bake with them. A lot of brownie recipes call for 100% dark chocolate (or unsweetened baking chocolate), such as the 10 recipes on this page: I hope that helps!


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