HomeSponsoredUnsweetened Chocolate: The Wide World of Chocolate Liquor

Unsweetened Chocolate: The Wide World of Chocolate Liquor

(This article appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

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A staple in the kitchen for both traditional recipes as well as novel applications

By Donald Wressell, Pastry Chef, Guittard Chocolate Company

Chocolate liquor. Unsweetened chocolate. 100 percent cacao. Cacao mass. Pâte de Cacao. Cocoa Paste. When there are so many names for the same item, it’s easy to get confused. One thing is certain though, all these various definitions are comprised of ground cocoa beans—the purest expression of chocolate, and thus, chocolate flavor. When used in a finished dessert, you can rest assured that you’re not only getting a burst of flavor, but that you’ve also been granted the opportunity to engage that flavor profile in new and exciting ways.

Cacao is perhaps the ultimate win-win ingredient: a sensory delight that is loved the world over, and a naturally potent food that is low in sugar. It has the potential to bring an innovative twist and celebration of flavor to recipes that shine a light on cacao’s bold character.

At Guittard, we make a variety of unsweetened chocolates that are made with different bean blends, each delivering different flavor profiles. Like any chocolate, choosing the right chocolate liquor is just as imperative for full flavor expression as is knowing how to integrate it into your finished product. Unsweetened chocolate does have a standard of identity, requiring no less than 50 percent fat and no more than 60 percent cacao fat (cocoa butter) by weight. Why is this important? Knowing the fat content of chocolate is a crucial element to having the flexibility and creativity to use chocolate to its fullest potential. For perspective, fat content in a standard couverture chocolate can range from between 34 percent to 46 percent. It’s also important to note that chocolate may contain milk fat whereas chocolate liquor will not; this can have an effect on tempering, viscosity, setting and cooling. Liquor is a very fluid product when fully melted, whereby chocolate with higher solids has more body and is more viscous, directly implicating handling and use cases.

For all those reasons, and more, using chocolate liquor in recipes not only challenges you as the chef but also has the potential to provide your customers with an exciting new tasting experience. With a naturally low sugar content, it also provides an unexpected palette for playing with sweetness levels, either through using alternative sweeteners and sugars or eliminating sugar altogether. Due to its extreme intensity, liquor can be used in mousses and creams to intensify the chocolate flavor experience; add it in as a percentage of your total chocolate use and experience the burst of flavor that comes from that addition. While we often see it used in glazes, you might want to explore using it as an ice cream dip or stracciatella, as the intensity of the liquor balances nicely with the sweetness of the ice cream and gelato. By the same token, experiment with adding liquor into a cookie base – be it a sablé or chocolate chip cookie – to beautifully balance the savory textures of the cookie dough. Lastly, try using it as a shell for a bonbon. You often find bonbon shells leaning more toward neutral flavor profiles to really let the interior shine, but using an intense chocolate for a shell can provide an entirely different taste. When designed properly, the sweetness of the interior and the chosen flavors can balance the intensity of a 100 percent cacao shell; a one-two punch that’s unique to even a connoisseur confectionery lover.

What follows is a series of recipes that celebrates the diversity and beauty of 100 percent cacao unsweetened chocolate. The goal is to inspire an expanded use of chocolate liquor in both traditional and novel ways. When thinking about how you might integrate chocolate liquor into your dessert offerings, consider adding it alongside couverture to embellish the flavor of the finished item. Use it as a tool to reduce the overall sugar in a recipe, or as a blank canvas from which you can supplement the sugar with new and exciting sweeteners. Three of the five recipes below highlight traditional uses of chocolate liquor: chocolate caramel, chocolate nougat, and chocolate sorbet. While most chefs don’t use chocolate liquor exclusively in these recipes, we are providing 100 percent liquor recipes in these cases to let the true flavor come through. The two other recipes use chocolate liquor in unconventional ways: banana cream pie and chocolate tres leches cake. Whether traditional or novel, their use in these recipes adds a level of complexity to the final results that yields textural and flavor components that are refreshing and unexpected.

Using chocolate liquor – let us count the ways.

  • A shell for a bonbon
  • Stracciatella in ice cream or gelato
  • Adding some liquor to a mousse or cream to intensify chocolate flavor experience
  • In a cake batter
  • In a cookie
  • In a hot chocolate drink
  • To deliver a sugar-free dessert or pastry
  • Ice cream dips

Minuit Brownie

The deep base chocolate taste of the chocolate lingers throughout this brownie and is complemented by the toasted walnuts that pair perfectly with the fruit and spice notes of the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao.

Yield: ½ sheet pan

  • 245 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao
  • 450 g unsalted butter
  • 285 g whole eggs
  • 900 g granulated sugar
  • 20 g vanilla extract
  • 285 g cake flour
  • 15 g salt
  • 450 g toasted chopped walnuts
  1. Melt the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao with the butter.
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 3 minutes.
  1. Sift the flour with the salt. Fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour until completely mixed in, followed by the walnuts. Pour onto a half sheet pan. Bake at 350˚F (176˚C) for about 30 minutes.

Banana Cream Pie

This modern twist on banana cream pie offers some unique additions like the pecan praline layer and the splash of passion fruit in the banana jam. The deep chocolate flavor profile of the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao Cream ties all of these layers together perfectly while keeping the dessert well balanced.

Chocolate Sweet Dough

  • 120 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 120 g organic granulated sugar
  • 60 g toasted almond flour
  • 2.5 g salt
  • 48 g whole egg
  • 47 g Guittard Cocoa Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 190 g pastry flour
  • 1 g baking powder
  • 12 g water
  1. Cream together the butter, sugar, almond flour and salt until well blended. Gradually add the egg and mix until well combined (do not whip). Add the sifted dry ingredients, followed immediately by the water. Mix until a dough forms (do not overmix). Chill dough.
  1. Roll out dough and line 7ʺ tart shell with it. Chill.
  1. Bake at 325°F (163˚C) for 12-14 minutes, until the shell pulls away from the mold slightly.

Brownie Biscuit

  • 235 g unsalted butter
  • 140 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao, chopped
  • 330 g organic granulated sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 200 g whole eggs
  • 170 g cake flour
  • 140 g toasted pecans
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao and stir together to blend fully. Add the sugar and salt and stir well. Slowly add the eggs and mix with the paddle attachment until fully emulsified. Stir in the flour and toasted pecans until fully blended.
  1. Spread batter onto prepped half sheet pan. Bake at 340˚F (171˚C) until the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the sheet pan.

Pecan Praline 60/40*

  • 300 g whole pecans
  • 50 g water
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g salt
  1. Roast the pecans at 325°F (163˚C) until fully roasted and fragrant; set aside.
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil; cook to a deep amber caramel. At the first sign of smoke, add the roasted pecans and stir to combine. Pour onto a sheet pan lined with paper or a silicone baking mat. Cool.
  1. Break hardened caramel into pieces and process with salt in food processor. Blend until smooth; store in refrigerator.

*To make the pie layer filling, stir 7% melted milk chocolate (by weight) into the pecan praline.

Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao Cream

  • 2.5 g gelatin
  • 10 g water
  • 100 g whole milk
  • 200 g heavy cream
  • 15 g turbinado sugar
  • 85 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao
  1. Bloom the gelatin in the water.
  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour the milk over the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao and allow to set for 1 minute. Whisk together to completely emulsify.
  1. Add the cool cream while blending with an emulsion blender. Pour on the top of the tart as the final layer; allow to set (it can also be stored in the cooler).

Banana Jam

  • 125 g turbinado sugar
  • 150 g yellow spotted bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 25 g passion fruit purée
  1. Make a dry caramel with the turbinado sugar.
  1. Add the sliced bananas and cook until bananas are thoroughly candied and there are no large pieces left. Remove from the heat and stir the passionfruit puree into the jam. Allow to cool with plastic wrap touching the surface.
  1. Store in cooler.

Guittard Soleil d’or 38% Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream

  • 300 g heavy cream
  • 85 g Guittard Soleil d’or 38% Milk Chocolate
  1. Bring the cream to a simmer.
  1. Pour 1/3 of the hot cream over the Guittard Soleil d’or 38% Milk Chocolate; allow to set for 1 minute.
  1. Whisk together until emulsified and smooth. Add the remaining cream and emulsify with an immersion blender. Cool on an ice bath. Allow to chill overnight before whipping.


  1. Spread about 100 g of Banana Jam in baked tart shell. Press a disc of brownie into the banana jam. Freeze until very firm.
  1. Add layer of pecan praline filling, (about 100 g). Freeze again until set.
  1. Add the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao Cream until it reaches the top of the shell; allow to set for several hours, or overnight.
  1. Finally, top with the Guittard Soleil d’or 38% Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream with desired design. Serve cold.

Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao Tres Leches Cake

The bold and fruity notes of the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao pairs perfectly with the cinnamon and cherry that have been added to this classic dessert, to give it a unique and modern twist.

Yield: ½ sheet pan

Chocolate Cake

  • 85 g unsalted butter
  • 75 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao, chopped
  • 180 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 80 g egg yolks
  • 151 g pastry flour
  • 4.3 g baking powder
  • 0.75 g ground Korintje cinnamon
  • 1.5 g salt
  • 125 g whole milk
  • 8 g vanilla extract
  • 145 g egg whites
  1. Melt the butter, add the chopped Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao, and stir until smooth.
  1. In a 5-quart mixing bowl, combine the chocolate mixture with 90 g of the sugar and mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture reaches room temperature. Gradually add the egg yolks and mix until light in color.
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix the milk with the vanilla. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Alternate additions of the milk and the dry ingredients until the mixture is homogenous.
  1. Whip the egg whites with the remaining 90 g sugar to firm peaks. Fold into the batter in 3 additions.
  1. Pour the cake mixture into a parchment lined half sheet pan, spreading it evenly. Bake at 325°F (163˚C) until the center springs back when lightly pressed, 18-20

Soaking Mixture

  • 150 g heavy cream
  • 65 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao
  • 150 g evaporated milk
  • 150 g sweetened condensed milk
  1. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, add the Guittard minuit 100% cacao and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the other 2 milks to the chocolate mixture.
  1. While the cake is still hot, poke several holes with a fork in it and pour the milk mixture over entire cake.Allow to fully cool before topping with whipped cream and serving. The cake can be frozen at this point.

Morello Cherry Sauce

  • 80 g granulated sugar
  • 2.5 g NH pectin
  • 195 g Morello cherry purée
  • 28 g glucose
  • 8 g lemon juice
  1. Combine the sugar and pectin, stir well and set aside.
  1. Warm the purée with the glucose. Whisk the sugar mixture into the purée. Bring to a full boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Pour into a container and place plastic wrap touching the surface to avoid a skin.
  1. Once completely cool, blend in a food processor until shiny and smooth.

Chocolate Nougatine

  • 60 g milk
  • 70 g glucose
  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g NH pectin
  • 16 g Guittard Cocoa Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 0.5 g ground cinnamon
  • 175 g slivered almonds
  1. Combine the milk, glucose and butter; melt over medium heat.
  1. Whisk the sugar pectin mixture into the warm mixture. Bring to a full boil, remove from heat and stir in the Guittard Cocoa Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, cinnamon and almonds. Pour onto 2 full sheet pans lined with silicone baking mats and bake at 330°F (165˚C) for 14-18 minutes. Test doneness by scooping a small amount from the tray and cool on the countertop to test for crispness. Mixture can also be stored in the cooler and scooped to bake on silicone baking mats as needed.

Almond Crumble

  • 166 g all-purpose flour
  • 145 g granulated sugar
  • 2.75 g salt
  • 222 g slivered almonds
  • 166 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. In a 5-qt mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and mix until evenly blended and the mixture forms large crumbly pieces.
  1. Bake at 325°F (163˚C) until golden brown, 18-20 minutes.


  • Fresh cherries
  • Whipped cream sweetened with 15% sweetened condensed milk
  • Chocolate garnish


  1. Place a circle of cake onto the plate. Pipe some of the whipped cream on top, then top with some of the cherry sauce. 
  1. Garnish with halved fresh cherries, then finish with Almond Crumble and Chocolate Nougatine. Top with the chocolate garnish

Chocolate Sorbet

In this sorbet, the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao offers the refreshing, clean taste of chocolate without the interruption of any dairy.

Yield: 1.6 kg

  • 1000 g water
  • 201 g granulated sugar
  • 172 g dextrose
  • 25 g inulin
  • 45 g maltodextrin 20 DE
  • 2 g stabilizer
  • 196 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao
  1. Pasteurize all ingredients at/ 194°F (90°C). Blend well with immersion blender.
  1. Run mixture through machine while still warm.

Chocolate Caramel

This chocolate caramel offers deep base chocolate notes with subtle notes of dairy to round out the smooth lingering chocolate taste.

Yield: 1.7 kg

  • 650 g granulated sugar
  • 65 g glucose
  • 150 g water
  • 400 g heavy cream 36%
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 g baking soda
  • 1 g salt
  • 275 g unsalted butter 82%
  • 200 g Guittard 100% Minuit Cacao
  1. Bring sugar, glucose and water to 293˚F (145˚C).
  1. Meanwhile, heat cream with vanilla bean, baking soda and salt.
  1. Deglaze sugar syrup (at 293˚F (145˚C) with butter.
  1. Whisk cream into sugar syrup in 3 additions, without dropping below 230˚F (110˚C). Add chocolate and cook to 244˚F (118˚C).
  1. Cast caramel in a 0.47ʺ x 11.8ʺ x 12.6ʺ (12 mm x 300 mm x 320 mm) frame.

Chocolate Glaze

This glaze is unique because it’s made with Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao, which offer a clean, true taste of chocolate and will add an additional dimension of chocolate to an entremets, as well as great texture because of the added cocoa butter.

Yield: 825 g

  • 24 g gelatin
  • 196 g water, divided
  • 185 g glucose
  • 135 g evaporated milk
  • 115 g Guittard 100% Minuit Cacao
  1. Bloom the gelatin in 96 g water.
  1. Heat the sugar, remaining 100 g water, glucose and evaporated milk to 217˚F (103˚C). Add the gelatin and chocolate and blend with immersion blender. Use at 104˚F (40˚C).

Chocolate Nougat

The addition of dried cherry in the nougat pairs well with the premium blend of the Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao.

Yield: 2 kg

  • 10 g egg white powder
  • 485 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 60 g fresh egg whites
  • 250 g whole natural almonds, roasted
  • 225 g dried tart cherry pieces
  • 225 g whole pistachios
  • 140 g glucose
  • 130 g water
  • 305 g honey
  • 190 g Guittard Minuit 100% Cacao wafers, melted and tempered
  1. Place the egg white powder, 45 g of the sugar and the fresh egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  1. In a mixing bowl, warm the almonds, cherries and pistachios in a 250˚F (120˚C) oven. Reserve.
  1. Combine the remaining 440 g sugar, glucose and water in a suitable saucepan. Reserve this sugar syrup.
  1. Cook honey to 226˚F (108˚C). Begin whisking egg whites on high speed, start sugar syrup and continue cooking honey to 248˚F (120˚C). Add honey to whipping whites.
  1. When the sugar syrup reaches 311˚F (150˚C), pour it steadily into the honey meringue mixture. Continue whipping for another 3-4 minutes.
  1. Add the melted Oban to the nougat and mix about 30 seconds. Fold the nougat into the nut and fruit inclusions using a heatproof spatula.
  1. Press the finished product into a 1ʺ x 10ʺ x 12ʺ (2.5cm x 25cm x 30cm) lightly oiled frame set on a silicone baking mat. Use a second silicone mat to flatten the nougat.
  1. Once completely cool (preferably the next day), cut into desired shapes and enrobe with Minuit 100% Cacao.
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