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I just tried this amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe. The recipe calls for adding hand-smashed dark chocolate chunks into the batter and mixing.

It seems like the chocolate doesn't break much. I used the good stuff, 90% cocoa products (very dark!). What I'm worried about now is that the chocolate will burn instead of melting into oozy goodness.

The recipe calls for 350 degrees for baking. I read somewhere on Seasoned Advice that dark chocolate can burn at temperatures as low as 60 degrees celcius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

So how do I reconcile this? Can I actually bake this somehow without burning it? If so, at what temperature?

(I'm also curious to know why the recipe calls for baking soda and baking powder, as one is a subset of the other.)

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The additional baking soda is to combat the acidity in the Chocolate, while the baking powder (despite containing baking soda) is the primary leavening agent. –  Jacob G Jan 9 '12 at 3:49
    
Thanks for the recipe! I'll try it :D –  Mien Jan 9 '12 at 8:53
    
@JacobG okay cool, thanks dude. –  ashes999 Jan 9 '12 at 12:54
    
@Mien my pleasure :D looks delicious! –  ashes999 Jan 9 '12 at 13:02
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Dark chocolate is actually more heat resistant than other kinds. Milk chocolate can scorch at 115° F / 46° C or higher; semi-sweet can have problems at 125° F / 52° C or so. It's mainly the dark chocolate that can withstand temperatures as high as 140° F / 60° C.

I think there are two misconceptions to clear up here, those being:

  • Baking at 350° F does not mean you are raising the internal temperature to anywhere even close to 350° F. Even yeast breads are not baked to an internal temperature higher than around 200° F, and it's much lower for soft breads and especially cookies. It's hard to find much data on the recommended internal temperature for cookies, but I'd estimate it to be around 160° F simply for food safety reasons.

  • Just because a food can burn above a certain temperature, does not mean that it will happen immediately. Just as heating oil slightly above its smoke point does not immediately result in flames and rancid taste, heating chocolate above the aforementioned temperatures will not immediately cause it to scorch. What it means is that chocolate can be sustained in a melted state indefinitely at lower temperatures, but raising the temperature further will cause it to eventually scorch. The higher the temperature, the less time it will take.

These "scorching" temperatures are mainly cautions against direct stovetop or microwave heating; with these methods it is easy to get the temperature very high, very fast. When you bake cookies, you are applying very slow, gradual heat; if the temperature of the chips even gets as high as 140° F, it won't stay that high for very long. It's not enough to burn, and that is why even milk chocolate or white chocolate chips tend to do fine in cookies.

So just bake them, and don't worry. The cookies themselves will probably scorch before the chocolate does.

P.S. As SAJ14SAJ writes in the comments, this assumes that you bake the cookies on some kind of insulating material like parchment or a baking mat. There is a risk of burning if you bake them directly on a metal tray and the chocolate comes into direct contact with it, as it will then heat up very quickly to approximately the same temperature as the tray. So don't do that - if you use a metal tray or cookie sheet, make sure there's something between that and your cookies. They bake from the ambient heat in the oven, and don't really need direct heat from the tray.

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+1 I forgot that the food temperature won't reach the "oven set" temperature. Thanks :) –  ashes999 Jan 9 '12 at 16:42
    
While all this is true, for the center and body of the cookie, scorching chocolate in direct contact with the tray is a real risk. For this reason, this type of cookie is best baked using parchment or a silicone mat on the tray, which mitigates the heat conduction from the metal tray, and lessens the risk of scorching. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 9 '13 at 8:18
    
@SAJ14SAJ: That's true, and I guess I just assumed that since almost every cookie recipe I've seen or used involves parchment or a baking mat. But worth adding to the answer anyway. –  Aaronut Dec 10 '13 at 2:03
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