The Lowdown on Chocolate Substitutions


Sometimes you just don't have the right one on hand.

I recently got this question from a friend, and thought that others might be interested in the answer – what to do when your recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate and you only have bitter or semi sweet? It’s a common question for those of us with imperfectly stocked pantries – unsweetened chocolate is one of those things that I rarely have on hand unless I’m planning to make brownies.

So if you’re in a pinch, The Cake Bible rule of thumb is to substitute two ounces of bittersweet/semi sweet chocolate for every ounce of unsweetened, and for every ounce of bitter/semi sweet chocolate used, to remove 2 tablespoons of sugar from the recipe. I recently attended a chocolate tasting at Biagio Chocolates – an event organized by Robyn Webb for DC Foodies Do Good, where I learned that unsweetened chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids and coca butter, whereas semi and bittersweet chocolate is a combo of those two ingredients and sugar. When you’re substituting one for the other, you have to account for the differences in cocoa content, and how the sugar content affects the overall sugar content in of the recipe.

So, there you have it. Are there any other substitutions that people would like to learn, or have questions about?



  1. Dave Rubenstein said

    Wonderful post. Thanks.

  2. LaurenMcK said

    What if you only have unsweetened — how can you substitute with that?

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