Baking chips are an all-time and long-time pantry staple. But what was once a one-size-fits-all product has evolved into an entire baking category of its own. Today, the types of baking bits you can find at the store are wide and diverse. They come in an intimidating range of types, sizes, shapes, flavors, and colors–each kind having its own particular charms. And while some recipes tell you exactly which chocolate chips you should use, a lot of other recipes don’t give you any kind of guidance whatsoever. So how in the world of chocolate chips do you choose? We are here to help with that!
What are Baking Chips?
Before we dive into the different varieties, let’s get back to the basics. Baking chips go by many names. They are also known as baking bits, baking morsels, chocolate chips, and flavored morsels. These bites have less fat (usually cocoa butter) and more stabilizers (usually cocoa solids and soy lecithin), meaning they are specifically formulated to hold their cute little shape, even when baked. And that is why they are such a popular mix-in for cookies, brownies, bars, cakes, and even churned icecreams. But the formulation is just the beginning.
Types of Baking Chips
Did you know that baking chips can be found in both couverture and compound varieties, meaning some are of higher quality than others? And the best way to spot the difference is by checking the label. Look to see if cocoa butter is listed in the ingredients. This means those chips are real-deal chocolate. If the ingredients list other fats like oil, then these are not real chocolate, but can still do the job. And while technically you can try to melt regular old chocolate chips for dipping, it isn’t recommended. Because of the additional stabilizers, these morsels do not melt as easily and smoothly as true melting chocolate. They take a bit longer, require more babysitting, are easy to scorch, and the results will often set up with streaks and lumps. So yes, this is why we always recommend you save the baking chips for the cookies.
When shopping for specialty baking chips, you will likely see a chip count labeled on the bag. The amount listed is the number of chips per pound. It might appear as a 1M (1000 chips per mound) or a 4M (4000 chips per pound), but can also just show up as an exact number. But basically, the thing to remember is the larger the number, the smaller the actual chip size. Standard-sized baking morsels usually range from 900 to 1000 chips per pound, but at Orson Gygi you can find counts from 350 to 30,000 chips per pound. Trust us, there is a chip size to fit every occasion.
The drop shape is the standard and you know it well. These typically have a flat bottom with a teardrop top (kind of like a meringue). Chocolate chunks are another common option you are probably familiar with. These are the larger square, or rectangle chocolate pieces popular in those mile-high cookies. But because baking bits are formulated to hold their shape there are some companies that are starting to customize their baking morsels into pyramids, wafers, beans, or even buttons. How cute and fun is that!?
The most common flavors you are familiar with. These include white chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate. But what about all those who are not chocolate lovers? What about us? Flavored morsels have found a way. You can also find baking bits that come in other flavors like vanilla. mint green, butterscotch, cinnamon, and peanut butter. Just think of all the delicious treats and desserts you can bake up with so many options. And the flavor is another case where experimentation is encouraged! Try swapping out your traditional white chocolate chips for vanilla. The difference might be subtle but can take those fun confetti cookies to a whole new level.
Last, but not least, it is important to consider the color. Most chocolate chips are light brown or brown–because of the cocoa. Other common colors for include white or butterscotch colors for the same reasons. But colorful flavored chips are becoming more and more trendy. Have you seen the green and red chips during the holidays? How about the pink and blue cotton candy baking chips? So cute! With more and more ways to customize, we predict you will start seeing more color options becoming readily available year-round.
Now, we would never suggest you get rid of that package of regular chocolate chips hiding in your pantry. You have your staples and should absolutely stick to them if they work for you. But we also fully support branching out from the usual and experimenting with different types of baking chips. There are so many fun options to choose from. Just check out our massive selection of and let’s get baking!