What is Chocolate?


Chocolate. Everyone knows what is chocolate, right?

Hmmmmm, “Yes” and “No”.

Chocolate is one of those topics that may seem simple because we have all seen it, tasted it and in some cases fallen in love with it (ME).
We may think we know what it is, but in actuality it is so very complex!!

I am going to keep it simple in this blog post and focus only on the 3 ways I use chocolate here in my recipes.


COATING CHOCOLATE OR COMPOUND CHOCOLATE-   It is used primarily for dipping making chocolate covered strawberries or for covering cake pops.

Because it is a Non Tempering chocolate coating it simply means it does not have to be TEMPERED for use,  it is very user friendly.

As you all know I prefer Merckens Brand than any other Chocolate for coatings.  CLICK HERE for worldwide shipping of Merckens White, Dark, Milk and ALL THE COLORS!



In my most basic explanation of this, I use Chocolate Chips for baking cookies and for chocolate chip muffins. That’s about it.
Everything else I use Real Chocolate, also known as baking or cooking chocolate or even plain chocolate..

Chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape upon baking making them great for cakes and cookies & muffins, but terrible for melting (since … umm well – what I just wrote)

Although some people do use them for melting and using within recipes such as Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Cake~ I do not and will not recommend it

Does it work?  Sure I guess it “works” but is it ideal?  No, and this is why I ask you to use baking chocolate when specified in the recipe


CHOCOLATE COUVERTURE OR BAKING CHOCOLATE – There are grades of Real Chocolate and I do not always use the super duper fancy schmancy top of the line one either. It all depends on what I am making.
In the commercial baking industry they actually have a lower grade of baking chocolate called “Ganache Chocolate” and it is perfect for making, yep- you guessed it- ganache!

Couverture chocolate will have less sugar and less “other” added ingredients (Unless it is milk or white chocolate in which case there is considerable sugar and milk products too).

Dark Chocolate (semi sweet, bittersweet etc) is primarily made up of chocolate liquor (which is basically chocolate in it’s purest form) cocoa butter and sugar.

There are many different brands of chocolates and the ingredients vary drastically from brand to brand and even country to country. But for the most part, those 3 ingredients are what make up chocolate, unless of course it is BITTER (or Unsweetened) chocolate and then there will not be a single grain of sugar to be found.

Here is where the confusion comes in. Not because of the ingredients in the chocolates as much as the shapes and sizes in which it is sold!

For Even MORE Information about Chocolate CLICK HERE CHOCOLATE 101

and also to my video for How to Temper Chocolate

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  1. I live in India…here most of the time temperature stays at 30-40 degree Celsius.. Please suggest how to store chocolate bars in this climate?

  2. Hello, lovely write ups…i would like to ask if it’s possible to use compound chocolate for making ganache and glaze icing, can it also be used for making chocolate fans?

    1. I find that compound chocolate is not the greatest for making “pliable” “flexible” decoration such as fans- Couverture will be better.
      Also for ganache, eh…not great- I mean you CAN but its not as good as a lower quality couverture (cheap brands are great for ganache)

  3. Dear Gretchen,
    It would be terrific if you teach us how to make chocolate by using cocoa powder.
    Thanks a million times for everything

  4. Gretchen,
    Can you please explain a little further “why” not to use chocolate chips for ganache…I’ve used semisweet nestle chocolate chips several times and just added corn syrup to the basic recipe and it always comes out so smooth and shiny and works great to cover the top of my cakes and drips on the side..I’m reluctant to try the expensive couverture chocolate but keep hearing it is so much better..what is better about it? Does it pour better..taste better..? I plan to cover an “entire”cake this time for the first time in ganache for a Father’s Day cake and a little worried now that my nestle choc chips may not work for that because of what I keep hearing?

      1. Thank you for that useful information…and your recipes are the best..my go tos…everyone enjoys my cakes because of you! and I am sharing them with my daughter so she will have only the best too! I did have one more question..how do you feel about heating cores? Do they really help to bake a more level cake and avoid domes? I heard a flower nail can be used or wrapping a wet towel around the cake will do the trick..but never seen you do this in any of your videos? Also where do I go to give some money for your funding? You’ve given way to much! I can’t give much…but will do what I can!

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