Chocolate is one ingredient that I always have in my pantry, and in a variety of forms. I have chocolate bars – everything from white chocolate to unsweetened chocolate – as well as chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, chocolate powder (mostly for hot chocolate) and cocoa powder. Chocolate chips and chocolate chunks are the two items that I reach for the most because, after all, aren’t most recipes even better when you throw in some extra chocolate?
Chocolate chips are small teardrop shaped drops of chocolate that are specifically designed for baking. The standard chocolate chip is seimisweet chocolate (dark chocolate, with no added dairy), though they can come in any formulation. The basic chocolate chip has a relatively high sugar and cacao solid content (the forumlations will vary wildly from brand to brand, good quality chips usually have a bit more cocoa butter for a smoother finish) which allows the chips to hold their shape well when they’re in the oven, so your chocolate chip cookies will always have a consistent look. The cookies will also have predictably satisfying nuggets of chocolate throughout. Chocolate chunks can be made by cutting up bars of chocolate into small, irregular pieces or they can be purchased pre-chunked in the baking aisle at most super markets. Chocolate chunks come in irregular sizes, leading to a more uniform distribution of chocolate throughout a cookie or muffin than you would get with chocolate chips. The smaller pieces may remain suspended in cake batters more easily than larger chocolate chips. Chocolate chunks can be made of the same or similar chocolate that chocolate chips are made from (especially if they are store-bought), but often have a little bit more cocoa butter in them that allows them to melt into flatter, more spread out patches in a baked good while in the oven.
So, which should you use? The answer is both. Chocolate chips and chocolate chunks will both deliver plenty of chocolate to your baked goods. Chocolate chips are consistent and you are sure to get a satisfying bite of chocolate every time that you encounter one in a cookie, brownie or cake. Chocolate chunks will spread more bits of chocolate throughout your baked goods and, while some pieces will be bigger than a chip, others will be smaller, so you will get more chocolate in every bite, but may not quite get the same feeling as you do when biting into a chocolate chip. Fortunately, chocolate chips and chocolate chunks are interchangeable in recipes, so you can use whichever style of chocolate you prefer or simply use up whatever you have on hand without worry.