What is a chocolate chip cooke without the chocolate chips? Honestly, a potentially better cookie (don’t be mad!). The world of chocolate shapes for mixing into doughs and batters—and melting, and snacking on—is wide and deserves to be explored. There are high-quality baking bars and classic chunks, but also fancier options like fèves and pyramids, which have their own particular charms. We’d never tell you to get rid of the bag of chocolate chips hiding in your pantry right now, but we are pro–branching out, especially when there’s absolutely no downside. Learn more about a few of our favorite chocolate chip substitutions below.
These, you know. Chocolate chips are the most common of all chocolate shapes and the format you likely have in your pantry. The (usually bittersweet or semisweet) tiny morsels are mound-shaped with a meringue-like tip; they’re often called for to fold into cookie dough, muffins, and quick breads.
But despite their ubiquity, chocolate chips can be polarizing. In her baking-centric book, Dessert Person, Claire Saffitz cautions in her ingredients section to “avoid chips, as these have emulsifiers that affect the consistency and melting properties of the chocolate.” If you’re partial to cookies with melty, molten pools of chocolate studded throughout rather than bits that keep their shape, you’d be better served subbing in an alternative shape made entirely of chocolate with no stabilizers or extras.
In our formal chocolate chip taste test, of the 17 brands the Epi team sampled, Ghirardelli’s 60% bittersweet came out on top; these chips are flatter and wider than most and lacked the bland chalkiness so many other versions displayed.
If you prefer a more geometric cookie dough mix-in, consider chocolate chunks, which are rectangular pieces slightly larger than a chip. They can be used as a substitute whenever chips are called for in a recipe. And because of their size and shape, they’re great for snacking as well (I think they’re perfect tossed into trail mix). You can find chunks in milk, semisweet, dark, and white chocolate varieties.
Chocolate baking bars
Despite their large and rigid shape, chocolate bars offer a lot of versatility to the home baker. Maybe you’ll chop yours up into irregular chunks, slivers, and crumbly bits to use in lieu of chips, dispersing rustic bites of chocolate throughout your dough or batter. Maybe you’ll roughly cut up a bar to melt or temper for dipping, drizzling, or making ganache. Whether perched over a double boiler or in the microwave, you’ll get beautifully smooth, pourable chocolate. Or maybe you’ll slice your bar into specific shapes to fill croissants or morning buns. The world is your oyster with a piece of chocolate in this flexible size and shape.
An oft-overlooked use for chocolate baking bars is to shave them with a vegetable peeler or rasp grater; in an instant, you’ll create a decorative effect—tiny curls or fine shavings, respectively—to top a cake or tiramisu. Read more about the best chocolate bars for baking here.
Want to feel fancy? Buy yourself some fèves. The stuff of professional pastry chefs and experienced home bakers, fèves are the chicest of all chocolate shapes, a product exclusive to beloved brand Valrhona. They’re flat and ovoid in shape with an indentation in the center on one side. They’re designed to heat and liquify evenly and can be found—in a range of cacao percentages, from the palest white to the most bitter dark—by the pound in most restaurant kitchens.
In her book, A Good Bake, pastry professional Melissa Weller notes that fèves are more versatile than they may initially seem and can absolutely be used by a home cook: “For chunks, just cut each fève in half,” she suggests. “And for melting, there’s no chopping, so you don’t waste any chocolate dust.” Pick up a bag in your most-used chocolate flavor and see if you don’t fall in love with the shape yourself.
Chocolate discs and wafers
Flatter, larger, meltier shapes that easily stand in for fèves are called chocolate discs (or disks) or wafers. They’re usually level and round, ideal for melting but also roughly chopping to fold into batters or doughs. Discs and wafers are thinner than baking bars, so when baked into a cookie, they readily melt into shallow chocolate pools, especially when stuck into the top of your ball of dough like here and here. Just be sure to read the label before you buy—chocolate wafer cookies are delicious—and perfect for an icebox cake—but not what you’re looking for here!
A favorite of associate editor Joe Sevier, chocolate pyramids are a shape created by the executive pastry chef of Dandelion Chocolate, Lisa Vega, in collaboration with industrial designer Remy Labesque. The seven-sided one-inch square is engineered to melt into cookies while staying relatively thin, for what Dandelion (and Joe!) believes is the perfect bite. They’re a bit like chocolate chunks all grown-up—great for snacking and providing angled, interesting chocolate coverage atop any baked good.
$30.00, Dandelion Chocolate
Originally Appeared on Epicurious