The Step You Should Take Before Baking Chocolate Cake

From Death by Chocolate to moist layer cakes, not all chocolate cake recipes are created equal. We know there are endless choices out there, so once you've decided upon a specific cake recipe, it's time to do your part to ensure you're serving the tastiest creation that you can possibly make. You might understandably be caught up in a wave of culinary excitement and want to start mixing ingredients as soon as possible, but to increase your chances of baking success, you'll want to pause before you begin.

You might already know to read your chosen recipe carefully, set out your ingredients to bring them to room temperature, and measure out the required amounts to get your workspace ready. "Mise en place"  is the French expression for "everything in its place," and professional bakers around the world abide by this guidance to work more efficiently and with confidence — particularly when handling chocolate, a notoriously challenging ingredient to get right. But to nail any chocolate recipe — including your chosen chocolate cake — there's an important consideration you must take with the chocolate itself before you start baking.

Taste your chocolate to get familiar with the details

As you assemble the necessary ingredients for your chocolate cake recipe, pay special attention to the kind of chocolate you intend to use. Just like the endless cake recipes out there, there are equal — if not more — varieties of chocolate, and the chances of committing a baking mistake will rise if you don't know what you're working with. An easy (and fun) preventative measure? Taste-testing.

Different chocolate bars can result in varying notes of flavor. Whether the chocolate is fruity, caramel, or tinted with vanilla, these noticeable subtleties can come through in even the most simple, traditional recipes. To fully understand some of these variations and how the nuances might impact your intended cakes, take time to sample a few chocolate labels and compare the tasting notes of each chocolate brand. "If you wouldn't eat it on its own, you probably won't want it in your baking," advised "The Great British Bake Off" finalist Benjamina Ebuehi in an interview with The Guardian.

Ideally, you should also bake with the highest quality chocolate your budget permits. Depending on the dessert you're aiming to make — a flourless chocolate torte recipe, for instance — you may want to invest more resources in the star ingredient. When chocolate is paired with other flavors, you may be able to get away with a lesser-quality ingredient. But for any chocolate-forward treats, pay special attention to the flavors and texture of the chocolate you bake with — your end result will thank you.