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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • What is plain chocolate?

    In cookbooks they sometimes mention "plain" chocolate? What is that?

    From the nigella team:

    Plain chocolate is dark chocolate, ie not milk or white chocolate. There can be quite a variance in the quality of plain chocolate sold so it is worth checking on the packaging for the cocoa solids content in the chocolate. For baking a good quality chocolate with a high cocoa solids content is preferred for a good flavour - Nigella uses chocolate with 70% minimum cocoa solids.

    For the US bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are both plain/dark chocolates. As the names suggest, semisweet chocolate tends to be sweeter than bittersweet - so has a higher sugar content and lower level of cocoa solids than bittersweet. For baking we suggest using bittersweet chocolate which should have 62% minimum cocoa solids and try to use a high end brand such as Ghiradelli. Some British and Swiss brands can be found in gourmet stores which will have 70% minimum cocoa solids.

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