When the British recipe calls for plain chocolate do they refer to cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, cooking squares, or Nestle style chips? Is it unsweetened, semi-sweet, or bitter?


2 Answers 2


The closest US equivalent to British plain chocolate is semi-sweet. If a recipe calls for, say, 5oz of plain chocolate, it will mean chocolate in bar form (unless chips are specified of course).

Obviously if the chocolate is for melting it doesn't matter what form it comes in.

Cocoa powder and chocolate syrup mean the same thing in Britain as they do in the US, incidentally.

  • There can be a difference for melting between chips & bar ... I have a recipe that calls for using the heat of a bar cookie to melt the chocolate, and if I use chips, it just never works right ... I've tried with mini chips and different brands, but I don't know if it's something with the temper, an additive / different formula that throws it off, or something else I haven't controlled for (I've only used chips when doing it in the winter, I know, as I've only done it 3 times that way, so the ambient temp might've been different)
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 21:25
  • @Joe What is a bar cookie? I know what a "bar cookie" is (a cookie in the shape of a bar), but not this "I have a recipe that calls for using the heat of a bar cookie to melt the chocolate".
    – Thomas
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 23:16
  • @Thomas : it's baked in a pan in a large sheet, then cut into pieces after cooking. In this case, once it comes out, you top it with chocolate, let it melt, then press in chopped nuts and let the chocolate firm up to attach the nuts.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 1:20
  • 2
    In my experience chocolate chips are often not proper chocolate. Quite often they are 'compound chocolate', a mix of vegetable fat and cocoa amongst other things. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 9:56
  • @@ElendilTheTall well, thanks to that info I will be buying dairy milk bars from now on whenever I'm baking :) Hahahaha
    – Matthew
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 2:02

British plain chocolate would be broadly equivalent to the US bitter-sweet chocolate.

Bitter or unsweetened dark chocolate has high cocoa solid percentage and little to no sugar added.

Bitter-sweet has about 70/30 cocoa solid/butter to sugar ratio.

Semi-sweet has about 50/50 cocoa solid/butter to sugar ratio.

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