Milk Street Insider Members and Digital Subscribers can post questions and answers. Insider Members will receive a response from a Milk Street expert within 2 business days. View all subscription options here. Try any plan for your first 12 weeks for just $1.

Cacao Percentages of Chocolate


I was just wondering when your recipe calls for semisweet and bittersweet chocolates, which ranges of cacao percentages do you typically recommend? I tend to think bittersweet is between 70% and 80%...but as you know, these terms are not regulated so I thought I ask what Milk Street uses. I'm planning on making the bete noire this weekend--I just love making your desserts. Thank you!


  • Bittersweet chocolate ranges from 54% up to 80% cacao. Obviously the higher the percentage, the more intense the flavor will be--at the risk of bitterness. So to a certain extent, it's a matter of personal taste--how strong you like it. I feel like everyone has a different palate for chocolate flavors. The bete noire does feature some semi-sweet chocolate to balance the intensity of the bittersweet chocolate (and flavorings like the bitters, orange and peppercorns), so feel free to go with a higher percentage bittersweet chocolate.

  • For our Bete Noir, we chose bittersweet chocolate with 70 percent cocoa content, and the semisweet we used contained 60 percent. Because there were other bitter notes in the syrup from the orange zest, pepper corns, and actual cocktail bitters, using all bittersweet or a higher percentage of cocoa solids would have made the finished torte too cloying. Darker chocolate would have overpowered the subtle orange, black pepper, and cardamom flavors of the finished dessert. 

    Wes Martin, Kitchen Director

Sign In or Join to comment or create discussion.