Bittersweet vs. Semisweet Chocolate

What’s the difference between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate?

What’s the difference between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate? 

Legally speaking, there is no difference. In order for a chocolate to be called “bittersweet” or “semisweet,” the FDA mandates that it contain at least 35 percent cacao, and manufacturers may use either term for chocolate that meets that minimum. That said, most manufacturers use “bittersweet” for chocolates that are higher in cacao (and hence less sweet) than their “semisweet” offering. Thus, “bittersweet” and “semisweet” can be useful terms for comparing products within one brand but are imprecise across different brands. For example, Ghirardelli’s bittersweet baking bar contains more cacao than its semisweet bar, but it has less cacao than semisweet bars by Guittard and Scharffen Berger.

THE BOTTOM LINE  Legally speaking, manufacturers can call any chocolate with at least 35 percent cacao either bittersweet or semisweet, but bittersweet is usually darker, richer, and less sweet.


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