Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Baking Bar Dark but not too dark, this rich bar is incredibly versatile, with a deep chocolate flavor that’s well suited to puddings and double-chocolate cookies.
To buy: $2 for 4 ounces, at supermarkets.
Featured February 2014
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Best White Bar
Valrhona Blanc Ivoire 35% While it doesn’t contain cocoa solids (white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, so it’s not technically chocolate), this standout has a velvety texture and a not-too-sweet vanilla flavor.
To buy: $13 for 8.8 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Bittersweet Bar
Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% Dark This hefty block offers complex flavor (think coffee and tart cherry) at a bargain price (about 28 cents an ounce)—an excuse to make a big batch of homemade truffles.
To buy: $5 for 17.6 ounces, Trader Joe’s.
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Best White Chips
Ghirardelli Classic White These morsels proved addictive in Real Simple’s White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies (as well as straight from the bag). The chips held their shape when baked and perfectly balanced the salty nuts.
To buy: $3.80 for 11 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Semisweet Chips
365 Everyday Value Semi-Sweet Just like in cookie commercials, these teardrops melt into oozy pools. Make them a staple for blondies, magic bars, and even pancakes. Bonus: Some ingredients are Fair Trade certified.
To buy: $4 for 12 ounces, Whole Foods Market.
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Best Milk Bar
Lindt Classic Recipe Some chocolate snobs scoff at milk chocolate, which has less cocoa and more sugar than dark. But this melt-in-your-mouth bar won over even the testiest testers. It’s ideal for coating pretzels—or nibbling.
To buy: $2.60 for 4.4 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Dutch-Process Cocoa
Lake Champlain Organic Unsweetened When you need Dutch-process cocoa, which is richer in color and flavor than natural cocoa but isn’t a substitute, look for this luxe powder. Great for brownies and hot cocoa.
To buy: $12 for 10 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Unsweetened Bar
Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Dark Only the bold will take a bite off the bar. (It has no sugar, naturally.) But for formidable, fudgy brownies or flourless chocolate tarts, this is your pick.
To buy: $12 for 9.7 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Milk Chips
365 Everyday Value Milk Compared with the competitors, whose flavor tended to disappear inside cookie dough, these extra- large rounds retained a lush cocoa taste and won raves in almond-studded cookies.
To buy: $4 for 10 ounces, Whole Foods Market.
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Best Bittersweet Chips
Ghirardelli 60% Cacao If you want to go a step further than semisweet in your cookies, these hit a happy medium between, well, bitter and sweet. These wide disks give an ample chocolate-to-dough ratio per bite.
To buy: $3.80 for 10 ounces, at supermarkets.
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Best Natural Cocoa
Scharffen Berger Unsweetened This classic variety is the most versatile. (Unlike Dutch-process, natural cocoa is simply pulverized roasted cocoa beans.) Testers loved the soft, familiar cocoa taste in sponge and layer cakes.