# converting pure chocolate to “bittersweet” chocolate

A chocolate cookie recipe I'm looking at calls for melting down a cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. However, I happen to have a brick of completely unsweetened cooking chocolate in the fridge. Can I convert that to "bittersweet" by simply melting it down and adding stuff (sugar, butter?) to it? If so, what should I add, and in what ratios, relative to the amount of unsweetened chocolate?

Thanks, -- Matt

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Can you melt unsweetened chocolate, add sugar, and have bittersweet chocolate? No. The resulting chocolate might taste fine, but it would be gritty from the sugar. To get an idea of what is involved in sweetening chocolate, check out this page about making chocolate from cocoa beans: http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/conchingrefining.php

Of course, since you're using it in backing, the simple solution is just to increase the sugar in the recipe. Instead of adding the sugar to the chocolate, just add it to the cookies.

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I wish you'd replied sooner; I learned the grittiness lesson the hard way! I was able to reduce the grittiness by mixing in some milk, which gave the sugar something to dissolve into. – SuperElectric Feb 4 '11 at 18:28
Sorry I didn't get there in time. Milk seems like an OK way to go, but I'd still recommend adding the sugar to the cookie batter. Either that or get a Santha Wet Grinder. :-) – Computerish Feb 5 '11 at 2:44

I wouldn't add anything, just use it how it is. They both are fine for cooking. I don't know how your chocolate taste, but if it's really bitter, you always can add more sugar in the dough of the cookies. I really wouldn't touch the chocolate.

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I think you will be close enough if you make a mix that is 70% of your chocolate and 30% sugar by weight. (So if you needed 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, use 7 ounces of 100% pure chocolate and 3 ounces of sugar, in addition to whatever sugar the recipe already calls for).

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According to this bittersweet chocolate definition, what's sold as "bittersweet" can range from 35-70%. Accordingly, you will need to add some sugar to have the recipe turn out as planned. My guess is that bittersweet "chips" are on the sweeter end of this rather large scale of what qualifies as "bittersweet" chocolate, but you can probably go to anything in that range that is to your taste. I would probably try something like 50% (it's in the middle and it's an easy ratio to measure) and see if you like the flavour of the final recipe.

I would probably add the sugar to the recipe itself, rather than trying to modify the chocolate since melting the chocolate will affect how it behaves once it's re-hardened (see discussions of tempering for details).

Normally, bittersweet chocolate would be composed of the unsweetened chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar. I'm not certain of the role of the cocoa butter in incorporating the sugar and whether or not it would be necessary to add or substitute for that.

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