The Difference Between Baking Chocolate And Chocolate Chips

When the chocolate craving hits, how do you satisfy? With chocolate lava cake, a candy bar, chocolate ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie? Each of these treats carry that chocolatey flavor, but are made from different forms of chocolate. Some have powder, chips, or bars, and have different strengths, like bittersweet, semi-sweet, or milk. Among these are two seemingly similar kinds of chocolate that call for different applications — baking chocolate and chocolate chips.

These two forms of chocolate are commonly seen in cookie and brownie recipes, but deliver different results. Baking chocolate typically comes in bars, while chocolate chips come in that classic teardrop shape. But other than the shape of the chocolate, what's the difference between the two? And can they be used interchangeably? Though this may sound like a nuanced and nit-picky distinction, there is one key difference in the ingredients.

Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that help keep that signature teardrop shape, and because of these stabilizers, baking chocolate and chocolate chips can't always be used interchangeably.

When to use chocolate chips vs. baking chocolate

The stabilizers in chocolate chips — usually soy lecithin — help to keep their chip shape through the baking process. Additionally, these stabilizers cause chocolate chips to melt more slowly and result in a thicker, less-viscous consistency that is not ideal for melted applications (via The Kitchn).

Conversely, baking chocolate comes in bars with several varieties, like milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened, which Southern Living notes is 100% cacao. This pure unsweetened bar is best used in applications where there is a fair amount of sugar in the recipe already and the bitterness of the chocolate serves to balance the treat. Baking chocolate melts faster than chips and results in a thinner, silkier consistency that is great for drizzling, pouring, and dipping. Additionally, some chocolate chip cookies (including our best chocolate chip cookie recipe) call for chopped baking bars, resulting in irregularly shaped chocolate distribution and typically, a gooier texture.

For baking projects like cookies, though, The Kitchn says chips and baking chocolate can usually be used interchangeably. The two camps of thought boil down to whether you like your cookies to have an even consistency or more textural variety. Chocolate chips produce even pockets of chocolate, whereas chopped baking chocolate yields both big globs of chocolate and tiny shards that melt into the batter.