Chocolate chips are miniature round drops usually used in baking. Their small size allows for quick melting and spreading. Chocolate chips are meant to hold some of their shape during baking to achieve the classic dotted appearance of chocolate chip cookies, muffins and cakes. There are a variety of chips to choose from, each with a specific purpose.
Milk chocolate, also known as sweet chocolate, is the sweetest chocolate chip available. Milk chocolate chips are made from the same type of chocolate found in most candy bars and are good for consuming straight from the bag. Distinguishing milk chocolate from other types of chocolate is the addition of milk powder, which gives it its light, creamy hue. Milk chocolate chips are not usually used for baking as they melt too quickly and slightly alter the texture of the baked good.
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Semisweet chocolate chips are the most common type used for baking. Semisweet chocolate contains a high percentage of cocoa, about 75 percent as opposed to the 20 percent in milk chocolate. As such, semisweet chocolate is usually preferred for recipes that call for a richer chocolate flavor. Semisweet chips have only a slight amount of added sugar, therefore allowing the baker to add and control the sweetness of the baked good. Semisweet chips keep their shape while baking, so they are more ideal for chocolate chip cookies than are milk chocolate chips.
Bittersweet chocolate chips are quite similar to semisweet chips. In bittersweet chocolate, only a very small amount of sugar is added to the 75 percent cocoa solids. The main difference from semisweet is that bittersweet contains a higher level of chocolate liquor (the liquid from cocoa beans), a trace amount of vanilla and lecithin. Bittersweet chips and semisweet chips are usually interchangeable in baking as it takes an experienced tongue to detect the difference.
Dark chocolate chips, also known as baking chips, cover a range in percentages of cocoa content from about 75 to 100 percent. These chips contain very little to absolutely no added sugar. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the darker the chocolate and the more bitter the taste. Bakers often use baking chips because they offer the strongest natural chocolate flavor and can be sweetened by other ingredients in the recipe.
White and Novelty Chips
White chocolate is technically not chocolate at all because it contains no cocoa solids, but only cocoa butter, milk and vanilla. Though white chocolate's main ingredient derives from the cocoa bean, it does not contain the antioxidants present in dark chocolate. White chocolate can be found in chip form, as can novelty "chocolate" chips such as rainbow chips, butterscotch chips, mint-flavored chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.