The Reason You Should Use A Sifter When Baking With Chocolate

When baking cakes, cookies, and other goodies, one frequent bit of advice with dry ingredients like cocoa powder is to use a sifter, according to The Kitchn. Though it's a tempting step to skip when you just want to hurry up and get baking (and eating,) sifting the cocoa powder first is actually a step worth doing. That's because cocoa powder is an ingredient that tends to clump, and simply stirring or whisking it with other ingredients isn't enough to break these up. Using a sifter is a foolproof way to ensure that big lumps of dry cocoa powder don't ruin your treats. 

It turns out that there's a good reason to use your sifter with another kind of chocolate in your baking – chopped pieces of solid chocolate. With this ingredient, the purpose of sifting is flipped on its head. An executive chef of Hancock St. in NYC, Ryan Schmidtberger, told Food & Wine that instead of sifting to get the big lumps out, you're sifting to get the little pieces of chopped chocolate out. That way, you'll only add larger chunks of chocolate to your recipes. Here's why that's important.

Here are ways to use the large chunks and the tiny pieces of chocolate

Although it's easy to reach for bags of chocolate chips for cookie recipes, there are advantages to using chopped chocolate instead. Martha Stewart shares that chopped chocolate has more cocoa butter, which creates a more pleasing mouthfeel. There are also more varieties to choose from when buying bars of chocolate instead of chocolate chips. 

J. Kenji Lopéz-Alt also shares with Serious Eats that smaller shards of chopped chocolate melt into the rest of the mixture, creating chocolate flavor throughout and also changing the appearance with specks and streaks of chocolate. This might sound good to any chocolate lover; however, Executive Ryan Schmidtberger points out in an article from Food & Wine that there may be recipes where you don't want the batter or mixture to be changed by those tiny shards of chocolate. (For instance, we imagine that this would apply when you want white vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate or a pale blondie with chocolate chunks instead of a dark brownie.) 

Schmidtberger says sifting the chopped chocolate through a mesh strainer lets the smaller shards fall through so that only the large chunks remain. So what can you do with those leftover, tiny pieces of chocolate? Sprinkle them on anything that will taste better with some chocolate (so, pretty much anything) like pancakes. They can also be used to make a rich cup of hot chocolate.