What can I use instead of bittersweet chocolate? Some of the best replacements for bittersweet chocolate are semi-sweet, unsweetened, and bitter chocolates which are easily interchangeable. In addition, natural cocoa and Dutch-pressed cocoa powders are great to use in a pinch. For a non-chocolate substitute, carob powder does the job.
Chocolate is a decadent dessert associated with romance and love. It’s also a delicious way to fill a craving or indulge in sinful pleasures. So when your recipe says bittersweet chocolate, and you realize you don’t have any stockpiled, don’t fret. You can still whip up your favorite batch of chocolaty dessert with these few substitutes.
The Best Bittersweet Chocolate Substitutes
The closest substitute for bittersweet chocolate is semi-sweet chocolate.
Semi-sweet chocolate ranges from 35% to 65% cocoa solids. It has more sugar than bittersweet chocolate and is also known as dark chocolate.
The remainder is made of emulsifiers and flavorings. Generally, bars of semi-sweet chocolates contain 60% cocoa.
Although the term is semi-sweet, it can sometimes be slightly more bitter, depending on the cocoa contents.
The taste is a rich, deep chocolaty flavor. It is somewhat sweet, depending on the cocoa percentage, with a touch of bitterness.
Semi-sweet chocolate is the perfect substitute for baking decadent chocolate cakes or creating a batch of delicious brownies.
When using semi-sweet chocolate as a substitute, replace 1-ounce bittersweet chocolate with 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, add ¼ teaspoon of cocoa powder, and reduce sugar.
Another alternative is unsweetened chocolate when looking for a substitute for bittersweet chocolate.
Unsweetened chocolate is made from 100% chocolate liquor or cacao from roasted cocoa nibs. There is no added sugar, and it has a chalkier and more crumbly texture.
Unsweetened chocolate is starchier than bittersweet chocolate and darker in color. In addition, it has more of a bitter taste due to the lack of sugar.
Keeping in mind that it contains more starch, it is better suited to creating fudge brownies or rice cakes. However, you can also use it for thick mousses.
When substituting bittersweet chocolate with unsweetened chocolate, use ⅔ ounces of unsweetened chocolate and add 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Another substitute for bittersweet chocolate is bitter chocolate.
Although bittersweet and bitter chocolate falls in the dark chocolate category, bitter chocolate is 80% to 100% cocoa with very little or no milk solids.
It has less sugar making it less sweet and more bitter, with a pronounced chocolate taste that is oddly satisfying. It has a creamy, velvety melting experience with an astringent taste.
Bitter chocolate makes a delicious snack filled with nutrients and antioxidants. It’s also great to use in puddings, ganache, decadent mousses, or special hot cocoa.
Substitute the bittersweet chocolate ounce for ounce and add 1 tablespoon of sugar for every ounce of chocolate you use.
Natural Cocoa Powder
If you’re in a pinch, then natural cocoa powder can be used as a substitute.
Cocoa powder is made from 100% chocolate liquor. The cocoa butter is pressed out, leaving only solids ground into a fine powder, with only 10% to 12% fat. It is used with baking soda as a leavening agent to reduce acidity.
Cocoa powder has a bitter nuance, resulting in sharp, rich, pronounced chocolatey flavors. In addition, natural cocoa powder has a higher acidity with a citrusy flavor.
Because cocoa powder is low in fat, it can affect the texture and consistency of your confection. Still, it is ideal for chocolate cakes and cookies, ice creams, or cold and hot drinks.
When using cocoa powder to substitute for bittersweet chocolate, use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons butter or oil.
Dutch Pressed Cocoa Powder
Another alternative is Dutch-pressed cocoa powder.
This process was discovered in the early 1800s by a Dutch chocolate maker. Cocoa solids are treated with alkalizing agents reducing natural cocoas acidity.
Making Dutch press cocoa less acidic with milder notes that need a neutral leavening agent, such as backing powder.
Compared to its natural counterpart, Dutch-pressed cocoa has a much darker color.
Dutch-pressed cocoa powder has a milder, smoother taste than natural cocoa, with much less bitterness and earthy, woodsy chocolaty notes.
It’s excellent for hot chocolates, baking cakes, cookies, and ice cream. It also contains three times less caffeine than natural cocoa.
When substituting for bittersweet chocolate, use 1 tablespoon Dutch-pressed cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons butter or oil.
Tweak your recipe slightly by replacing the baking soda with baking powder.
A non-chocolate alternative is carob powder.
Carob is a legume native to the Mediterranean region from the evergreen flowering tree Ceratonia Siliqua. It is also known as the locust tree or St. John’s Bread.
The leathery pod of six to twelve inches is dried and roasted before being crushed into a powder.
The powder contains virtually no fat but is higher in carbohydrates than chocolate lacking the stimulants that chocolate is known for.
It has similar notes to chocolate. It has mild earthy, nutty tastes with a slight bitterness and a natural sweetness.
Carob powder is used the same way as cocoa powder. It can be used in baked confectioneries or to flavor smoothies. It can even be made into chocolaty syrup for drizzling over ice cream.
Replace one-ounce chocolate with 3 tablespoons of carob powder and 1 tablespoon of water. Remember to reduce your sugar due to its natural sweetness.