Chocolate is an amazing ingredient and it’s great for baking, cooking and creating sweet treats. But what happens when you run out of chocolate and you want to bake a cake? What can you replace chocolate with?
Today, I wanted to have a look at the different options you have and to re-assure you that you don’t need to panic and can still have your chocolate treat!
Dark chocolate ingredients
Before we dive into substituting our chocolate with different ingredients, I’d like you to understand what your chocolate is made of a bit better. This will help you with the ratios of the different ingredients and give you the confidence to know that you can replace your chocolate with.
Dark chocolate is made with cocoa butter (fat), cocoa powder, soya lecithin (emulsifier), vanilla essence and sugar. Dark chocolate is naturally gluten, nut and dairy free, but it’s often made in the factories where they prepare other foods, so the packaging often says: not suitable for nut/dairy or gluten allergies.
How does chocolate substitution work
So, to replace a bar of plain chocolate in your cake recipe, you’ll need some fat (instead of cocoa butter) and cocoa powder (or similar). I wouldn’t worry too much about the soya lecithin and vanilla essence, since most of the time there would be another flavouring in your cake, which is going to overpower it anyway.
Similarly, I don’t think you need to replace the sugar in the dark chocolate, as there is not much in it anyway and there will be (quite possibly) sugar already in your chocolate cake recipe.
Dark chocolate consist of
- Cocoa butter – replace with salted/unsalted butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil
- Cocoa solids/cocoa mass – replace with cocoa powder
How to make the plain chocolate substitute
Using cocoa powder or carob powder
- Melt the butter (if using) first and add cocoa powder, carob powder or chocolate chips depending on what you have.
- Taste & add 1/2 -1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules dissolved in a tiny bit of water.
- Add a tiny pinch of salt (few grains) to a tiny bit of water and add to the mixture to intensify the chocolate flavour.
Using chocolate coverture, origin chocolates, baking chips
Use as they are and add directly to the recipe (or melt, whatever the recipe tells you too).
Coffee will make your chocolate substitution taste more like proper chocolate. Add 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee granules dissolved in a tiny amount of hot water for each 100-200 grams of equivalent plain chocolate substitution.
I would normally not use chocolate coverture in baking or cooking, since it’s far too good of a product for this use. But, on occasions when I’ve had chocolate blooming or something has gone wrong with the moulds, I would end up with seconds, that wouldn’t be good enough to even give out as samples. In that case, I’ve happily used the ‘not so perfect’ chocolates and melted them into quick and easy chocolate brownies or buttermilk bunt cake.
Similarly to chocolate coverture – origins chocolates are far too good to use for baking, but if you are making no bake chocolate cake or simple chocolate truffles, where the chocolate is not baked to kill all the amazing flavour and nutritions, then that would be a perfect solution for a chocolate substitution.
Chocolate baking chips
Since chocolate baking chips are made with a higher fat content and other ingredients that make them strong enough to withstand high temperature without loosing their shape, you can’t just replace like for like.
To replace say, 100 grams of chocolate in your recipe, you’d need about 300 grams of chocolate baking chips to give you the same intensity of flavour. The problem is that this would change the proportion of your recipe probably too much – especially when you consider the amount of fat that you are adding to the recipe. You’d need to change (lower) the amount of other fat that’s in the original recipe.
Let’s face is, who is going to replace a simple 100 grams of dark chocolate bar, which costs around £1-2 in the supermarket (and that’s not even the cheapest!) with dark baking chips which cost at least £1 – £1.50 for a bag of 150 grams. Unless you already have the baking chocolate chips at home, it’s easier to pick up a basic plain chocolate bar in your local corner shop (even if it’s in the middle of the night) than to search for a baking chips (which your local corner shop won’t have).
Anyway, to make things a little easier, if you do decide to swap the dark chocolate for chocolate baking chips, use only slightly more than the recipe calls for – say 150 grams of baking chocolate chips to replace 100 grams of chocolate and add 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee granules. The coffee flavour intensifies the inferior flavour of your chocolate baking chips and will keep the cost down.
The obvious choice to replace chocolate is to reach out for cocoa powder. You will need about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and one tablespoon of butter for every 30 grams of chocolate you need in your recipe. Melt the butter and mix the cocoa powder in to create a thick paste and then add to your recipe.
Carob is also plant based like cocoa powder, but it doesn’t contain any caffeine (which is what usually gives people headache when eating regular chocolate). Use it in the same way as cocoa powder. Since it has much milder flavour than a cocoa powder, I’d suggest to add few granules of instant coffee to each mini batch of chocolate replacement. The coffee will intensify the flavour. Use de-caffeinated coffee if you are worried about the caffeine or keep the carob plain as it is. It will be delicious all the same.
Questions & Answers
Of course you can! You can easily mix any of the chocolate substitutions together to create your final dark chocolate replacement. To make sure you end up with the right flavour and consistency, I would suggest to mix your substitutions together first (melt the butter or chocolate, add the cocoa powder or whatever you are using) and taste it to see if you get the right flavour. Add 1/2 teaspoon of coffee granules (dissolved in a tiny bit of hot water) to achieve a rich chocolate flavour. Once you are happy with the flavour, add it to your recipe.