11. The Power of Cocoa Powder | 22 Words

Chocolate: the cure for a heartbreak, the perfect dessert, your go-to guilty pleasure, and apparently, a gentle creature that needs to be nurtured and properly taken care of during baking.

This favorite treat for the masses should actually be labeled as "fragile: handle with care" when it comes to cooking with it in the kitchen.

There's a lot more to this sweet treat than we thought we knew, so we're turning to an expert who can teach us all about the mysteries and wonders of America's favorite sweet.

Meet Kyle Bartone

Kyle is a pastry sous chef at a restaurant in Chicago called Eataly. He loves posting pictures of his beautiful food creations on Instagram and his header on Twitter is a picture of a gorgeous pie (he's a true foodie). He works with chocolate quite a bit in his chef endeavors so he has had his fair share of experiences with this delicacy. Let's hear what Kyle has to say about the good, the bad and the sticky when it comes to chocolate.

Here is just one of his many beautiful creations. It looks like an ocean of chocolately waves, surrounded by a perfect, chocolate crust. It's okay to drool.


The hard part for me about cooking or baking with chocolate is resisting the urge to finish all of it before I even begin using it. Here's a tip not from a pastry chef: do not consume all your chocolate before cooking. I mean, a little nibble is not bad, but don't go crazy. Stay focused and practice self-control. If you can get past this, then you can master the art of cooking with chocolate. Now, let's get to the good stuff.

1. Serrated Knives Are Your Friends

Bartone, along with other chefs, encourage using serrated knives to chop chocolate. The jagged edge cuts through the hard surface of chocolate much easier than a straight blade. Serrated knives are not only for efficiency, but comfort as well. "Trust me on this one — it saves my hand from cramping up on a daily basis," Bartone says. I trust him, no questions asked.

2. Blooming is Not Bad

via: Shutterstock

You know when you leave your chocolate out and it gets kind of white and almost ashy looking? That means your chocolate has bloomed, which is a result of improper temperature. But Bartone says, take heart! This is not a reason to throw away your chocolate. "You can always start over," Bartone says. "Just remelt the chocolate. The bloom will disappear and look good as new." Hallelujah, the chocolate has been saved.

3. The Fridge Is A No-No Zone

We all know people who keep their chocolate in their fridge. You may think this is just one of those "is the dress black and blue or gold and white?" kind of debates, but according to Kyle, there is a right answer to this when it comes to baking. Kyle warns to avoid storing your chocolate in the fridge. Chocolate does not do well in extreme temperatures, so it makes sense to keep the precious chocolate away from the cold temperatures in your kitchen. Putting your chocolate in the fridge can also make it bloom, so just avoid this unnecessary trouble altogether.

4. Direct Heat Is The Enemy

When you want to melt chocolate, you have two options: either put it in the microwave or use a double boiler. Avoid, at all costs, melting it in a pot on your stove. Chocolate can burn easily and quickly, so a stove top method will most likely ruin it. For most of us, using a microwave is probably the method we will  use, so Bartone has a tip for us soon-to-be chocolatiers. "Melt it in 10 second increments — I know this sounds like a pain, but it'll make sure the chocolate doesn't burn."

5. Wood and Rubber Only

If you've learned anything so far, I hope it's that chocolate is a sensitive creature that needs to be protected and treated with care and respect. Take this into consideration for this next tip. A metal spoon can actually shock the chocolate and change its consistency. It is usually either very hot or very cold. "I always stir my chocolate with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula," Bartone suggests. "This makes sure that it doesn't shock the chocolate and cause it to clump up." Nothing worse than a shocked pile of chocolate.

6. Plastic Wrap For A Classy Touch

You know how in movies, chocolate always looks shiny and squeaky clean? Well, Bartone knows the secret. When you want your chocolate to harden and dry with a shiny finish, use plastic wrap. It will give it that classy, professional look. "This gives it a super shiny finish," Bartone says. "And if you crinkle the plastic wrap up a bit, it'll give you a cool texture that makes chocolate bark look really cool." Chocolate; so magical, so mysterious.

7. Dip It Real Good

If you're trying to dip items into your melted chocolate but find that the consistency just isn't up to your expectations, Bartone knows just what to do and uses a little bit of science to explain it. "Chocolate is a fat system," explains Bartone, "so without getting too nerdy, this means you can add fat to it without it seizing up." The problem with some melted chocolate is that it is too thick to get an even layer on whatever it is you are trying to dip in. "If you need to thin out your chocolate, make sure to use fat (like vegetable oil, butter, or cocoa butter), not a liquid." Bartone, you are a wizard.

8. Caution: Candy Melts

Candy melts are great, but they do not accurately replace or substitute for real chocolate. Bartone suggests to proceed with caution when using candy melts or chocolate flavored discs because they are not actually chocolate. You don't have to avoid candy melts, they are actually a great alternative that can come in a lot of colors, making decorating any dessert an easier task. Just be aware that they melt differently and have various consistencies.

9. White Chocolate Is A Whole New Ball Game

If you thought regular chocolate required extra treatment, wait until you meet white chocolate. Okay, it's not that much more difficult. Bartone says that all we need to know is that white chocolate melts much quicker, making it also easier to burn. "When melting white chocolate, just keep this in mind and go very slowly. As soon as it's warm, it's melted," Bartone says.

10. Chocolate Chips--The Good and The Bad


I always wondered how the chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies didn't melt into weird puddles after they were baked; they just held their perfect, pointy little shape. That's because most chocolate chips were made to keep their shape, making them great for cookies, but not so great to melt for dipping. "A lot of chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape and not melt," Bartone says. "This is because they're sometimes made with added soy lecithin to increase their melting temperature." Trying to melt chocolate chips is actually quite difficult, so try to avoid it if you can and just stick with melting bars of chocolate.

11. The Power of Cocoa Powder

THIS IS GOOD, PEOPLE. Instead of using flour to prep your baking sheets, use cocoa powder! Not only does this prevent sticking, but using unsweetened cocoa powder will also give your dough or batter an extra chocolate kick. Efficient and flavorful. I didn't know it could get this good.

12. H2No Way

Water is so great, right? WRONG. SO WRONG. "A single drop of water can ruin a whole batch of melted chocolate," says Bartone. Did you hear that? One drop of water can RUIN a whole batch of melted chocolate! We must take this seriously, and of course, Bartone knows just how to ease our chocolate anxieties. "Before I start melting any chocolate, I always take the time to wipe out the bowl and make sure there's no water in it." Thank the chocolate gods, it's an easy fix. Our chocolate will live to see another day.

Chocolate, we love you and all your sweetness. Even if you are a little complicated, sensitive and easy to upset (sounds like I'm describing myself). But you are so worth it, and now we know better ways to take care of you and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

We know that after this post, you might go into a chocolate coma, and that's okay. We support you, we are here for you. Go get your chocolate on, and remember, handle with care.

An Extra Sweet Treat

Here's a quick, five minute video with another chocolate professional if you're feeling inspired by the beauty of this delicacy. Be brave, try something new and don't feel ashamed to lick the bowl clean.