How to Cook With Semisweet Chocolate Chips
If you have ever baked then there is a good chance that you have used semisweet chocolate chips. If you don't know what they are, semisweet chocolate chips are those small chocolate morsels found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. They are the main ingredient in what many think is the best cookie made, the chocolate chip cookie. They are also incredibly versatile and easy to use. There are a few things you need to remember when cooking with this sweet ingredient.
Discover some background, cooking tips and a few easy recipes when you learn how to cook with semisweet chocolate chips.
Brief History of Chocolate
There is evidence of cacao dating back to 1900 BC. It was used in Mayan and Aztec civilizations. When the explorers brought it back to Europe, the Europeans added milk and sugar and used it as a drink. It was in the 19th century that the method to solidify the liquid was invented by John Cadbury. Chocolate is currently manufactured around the world. While it originated in the Americas, West Africa now produces the majority of the cocoa the world consumes.
Semisweet chocolate chips were originally invented in 1937 when Ruth Wakefield used chopped up pieces of Nestle chocolate bars in the cookies she made at the Toll House Inn. By 1941, chocolate chips started being sold for baking purposes. Today there are many variations of the original chocolate chip, ranging from milk chocolate to peanut butter chips. There are also mini semisweet chocolate chips which are perfect for adding to sweet breads and cakes.
Chocolate chips are made with less cocoa butter than baking chocolate so they can retain their shape when baked. While chocolate chips can be melted and quite often are, it is advisable to use baking chocolate when a recipe specifically calls for it. Melted chocolate chips tend to be more difficult to work with and don't have the same texture as melted baking chocolate.
From the standard chips found at every grocery store to the high end chocolate chips found at finer stores, there are many brands to suit every baker's needs.
- Don't let babies eat semisweet chocolate chips. They may present a choking hazard.
- Chocolate is toxic to dogs. Keep it out of Fido's reach.
Ask almost anyone and they will tell you that they have a bag of chocolate chips in their kitchen. They may not be able to tell you how long they have been there or what they used them for, but they are there. Here are a few helpful hints when using semisweet chocolate chips.
- Store the chips in an airtight container once the package has been opened. Keep in a cool, dry area. Properly stored, they have a shelf life of approximately 18 months.
- Semisweet chocolate chips can be frozen in an airtight container. They may look a little gray when they come out, but they should be fine. If they are exposed to moisture, they won't be good.
- If you notice that your chocolate chips tend to sink to the bottom of your cake or bread recipes, try coating them in a little flour. This helps stop the sinking. Another way to prevent this problem is to use mini semisweet chocolate chips instead of the regular ones.
- Semisweet chocolate chips can be melted on the stovetop in a double boiler, or in the microwave. Whichever way you melt them, be careful. It is very easy to overheat the chips and once overheated, the chocolate will seize up and burn.
- When melting in a double boiler, stir continuously and as soon as the chips start melting, take the pot off of the heat and stir until all of the chips are melted.
- When melting in the microwave, only heat in 15 - 30 second intervals. Stir in between intervals and as soon as some of the chips have melted, stir until the rest are melted too.
Here are some of the many ways to enjoy semisweet chocolate chips.
- Add to pancakes.
- Add to cookies, muffins and sweet breads.
- Use as cake decorations.
- Melt and use as dip. It will harden and leave a nice crunchy chocolate coating.
- Sprinkle on top of ice cream.
- Use in snack mixes.
- Use in hot chocolate.
- Use in candy making.
Dipped Chips and Pretzels
If you need some quick nibbles, then these are perfect.
You'll need ridged potato chips, pretzels and chocolate chips (adjust the amount based on number of potato chips and pretzels you are using). Melt the chocolate chips in a small microwave safe bowl and dip chips and pretzels into the chocolate. Place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and refrigerate just until chocolate is hard. After the first time my daughter tried these she exclaimed: "Who knew chips and chocolate taste so good together!"
Chex Peanut Butter Chocolate Snack Mix
- 9 cups of Chex cereal (any kind)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
Pour cereal in a large bowl and set aside. Melt remaining ingredients except the powdered sugar and chopped nuts in the microwave. Pour over cereal, add chopped nuts and mix everyting until evenly coated. Pour powdered sugar over the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Shake to coat, being careful not let the plastic wrap go. You can also use a big bowl with a lid for this process.
*Recipe adapted from GroceryBudget 101.com
Check out another hub for using semisweet chocolate chips from Mama Kim 8: Chocolate Covered Cereal Treats for Easter!
Saltine Cracker Toffee
- 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Cover cooking sheet with one layer of crackers placed side by side so there are no spaces. Crush the rest of the crackers for use later.
Melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly. After mixture comes to rolling boil, gently pour the mixture over the crackers. Take care not to do this to quickly or the crackers will shift. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until toffee is bubbling. Take out of the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, letting them soften for approximately 1 minute. Using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers. Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over the top and refrigerate for about 1/2 an hour. Once cooled, remove from refrigerator and break into small pieces. Store in an airtight container.
*Recipe from about.com
© 2012 Claudia Porter