The Absolute Best Substitution For Unsweetened Chocolate

With baking season in full swing, you might inevitably find yourself looking for ingredient substitutions from time to time. For example, when the urge to bake arises, even the best-stocked pantries might be missing less commonly used items like unsweetened chocolate. The good news is that chocolate comes in many forms, and we have just the tips you need for how to replace that unsweetened chocolate using more common chocolate products you might have on hand, such as cocoa powder or bittersweet chocolate.

First, let's understand the components of chocolate to help you make the right substitution. Chocolate and cocoa powder are both made of ground cacao beans known as cacao mass. Chocolate still has cocoa butter in the mix while cocoa powder does not; it's just the dried, defatted cocoa mass, crushed into powder. Unsweetened chocolate is the base product that producers combine with sugar to make other chocolate varieties. For example, bittersweet chocolate is simply unsweetened chocolate with a small amount of sugar.

Making a smart substitution

If the recipe asks you to melt unsweetened chocolate for a batter or frosting, you can easily use bittersweet chocolate and omit some of the other sugar the recipe calls for. The rule of thumb is to use 1 ½ ounces of bittersweet chocolate for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate to get the same amount of cacao flavor, reducing the sugar in the recipe by one tablespoon.

When substituting cocoa powder for unsweetened chocolate, fat needs to be added along with the powder to get a similar end result. You can use 3 tablespoons of regular cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter to make up for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate. This substitute works best for batters that will be baked, and not frostings or uncooked puddings, since cocoa powder's grainy texture won't have a chance to fully blend without heat.