bittersweet chocolate [bit-er-sweet chaw-kuh-lit, chok–uh-, chawk-lit, chok-] noun, adjective
A slightly bitter chocolate (usually made without milk), also referred to as dark chocolate.
It is important to note that the FDA does not distinguish between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, but both must contain a minimum of 35% cacao mass. While, in theory, bittersweet chocolate should have less sugar and be less sweet than semisweet, because there is not difference according to the FDA, sugar content will vary from brand to brand and bar to bar. Chocolates with 60% cacao and above are typically considered bittersweet, while chocolates in the 50% range are semisweet.
Flavor will depend on the type of bean (or blend), where it is grown, the quality of the bean, the care taken during harvest and fermentation, the amount of roasting, the grinding and conching process and other factors. There are many points in the production and manufacturing of chocolate that affect the final taste and texture. (See chocolate).
High-quality bittersweet chocolate should contain cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, often lecithin and vanilla, and nothing else. The lecithin acts as an emulsifier and is often present in less than 1% of the total ingredients. (The ingredients on a label are listed most to least in terms of amount within the product).