What percent cocoa is semi-sweet chocolate? Based on my googling, it seems to be around 35%
As far as I know there are no official percentages and your estimate is perfectly legal. But in my kitchen, 35% would be really really low for something I called semi-sweet. Scharfffen Berger lists its semi-sweet at 62% and its bittersweet at 70%. And even their milk chocolate is 41%.
Thanks. I initially thought it would be a lot higher too because I've had milk chocolates at 50% (like Green and Black). Now I'm even more curious as to what others think. Ghiradelli's site does say there's is between 35-45, though granted I find theirs too fruity.
Guittard is 61% cacao for their semi-sweet and 72% for their bittersweet, 38% for their milk. U.S. standards just aren't that much help. i'm really glad that so many producers have started to define their products by the percent cacao. It's another story, but I really wish the dairy industry would to the same for not just milk, but also cream.
So I have two options based on what I have on hand, and I think I am going to aim for a 50% range, which is what it appears callebaut semi-sweet comes in at. I need 6 oz, so I can use a Lindt 3 oz bar of 70% one Lindt milk chocolate bar (at about 30%), or I have two ritter bars labeled bitersweet 50%.
Any thoughts? It's for a buttercream frosting, and I'm going to get it under way this evening. Thanks!
Use the 50% bittersweet Ritter bars. Not need to attempt the math that the Lindt chocolate would require ;)
Personally, I like a darker chocolate for frosting since you'll be adding a lot of sugar in addition to the chocolate. Milk chocolate might be too sweet for a buttercream frosting. Though my favorite chocolate frosting recipe uses milk choc and I prefer it that way, but it's not a buttercream.
"Semi-Sweet" is an incorrect American term for chocolate. If a chocolate lists 70% it means it's 30% sugar-- that's all. Percentages on chocolate can refer to the amount of sugar, only. Ten 70% chocolate bars will taste different because 1. Chocolate manufacturers choose different beans, roasting times and methods for their bars. "Semisweet" chocolate usually refers to chocolate chips, which open another can of worms because chocolate chip makers are not required by law to list what else, and in what percentages, they put in there besides chocolate and sugar.
All that said, when I need "semi sweet chocolate" and I don't want to use Nestle's choc chips, I go for chocolates in the 62-68 range. I love the TCHO 68% for cookies and Valrhona for baking. The less expensive your chocolate the more non-chocolate fillers (that are not listed) will be in there.
Chocolate is tricky, to say the least. Alice Medrich spells out a lot of chocolate issues/conversions/substitutions in her book Bittersweet, which I refer to when I need plain language explanations.
For buttercream it's important that the sweeter your chocolate, the less granulated sugar you will want in your initial emulsion. I use salt and vanilla extract to balance chocolate buttercream.
Sorry, one more thing: there's no such thing as a "measurement of cocoa" in chocolate. The 70 in 70% refers to cacao solids or chocolate liquor (not a spirit, just the nomenclature). Cocoa is chocolate without the cocoa butter. But, again, that 70 can be very misleading because even a "high percentage" chocolate can be of lesser quality than a lower percentage-- if the beans or method or added stabilizers are low grade. A Hershey's 70% is not the same as a Callebaut 70% is not the same as a Michel Cluizel 70%.
Thanks! I meant to write cacao, but I appreciate this thorough explanation. My experience with different chocolates of the same percentage (at least within the same price range and presumably the same quality level) now makes a lot more aense