Skip to Content


How to Add Dark Chocolate to Holiday Baking

Focused on Health - December 2011

by Laura Nathan-Garner

dark chocolate holiday bakingBaking for the holidays? Good news: it’s possible to add some cancer-fighting power to your favorite sweets — without sacrificing flavor.

All it takes is a little dark chocolate.

That’s because the antioxidants in dark chocolate help protect the body from cancer more than any other chocolate.

Here’s the reason: chocolate’s antioxidants come from chemicals called flavonoids, which occur naturally in the plant-based cacao bean. These beans are roasted, ground and processed to make different chocolate products. And, processing reduces the amount of cacao in the final chocolate product.

Milk chocolate is processed more than dark chocolate. So, it has less cacao and fewer cancer-fighting antioxidants. And, white chocolate doesn’t actually contain any cacao bean solids, so it doesn’t have any flavonoids.

Both white and milk chocolate also have more added sugar and unhealthy fats than dark chocolate.

Here’s how to reap dark chocolate’s health benefits when you bake this holiday season.

Choose dark chocolate with at least 65% cacao

Since chocolate gets its cancer-fighting power from cacao, choose dark chocolate with a high percent of cacao. The higher the percent, the darker the chocolate — and the more flavonoids you’ll get.

Aim for chocolate with at least 65% cacao. You can usually find the percentage of cacao on the front of the package.

Substitute dark chocolate when baking

dark chocolate holiday bakingWhether your recipe calls for milk, white, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, you can easily use dark chocolate instead. That’s true whether you’re using chocolate bars, chocolate chips or even cocoa powder.

In most recipes, you can substitute dark chocolate for other types of chocolate at a one-to-one ratio. So, if your recipe calls for 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate, use 1 ounce of dark chocolate instead.

Recipe calls for unsweetened baking chocolate? Replace every 1 ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate with 3 tablespoons of unsweetened dark cocoa powder, plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or margarine.

Watch the portion size

Don’t let dark chocolate’s disease-fighting perks become an excuse to serve larger portions — or eat more of your favorite treats. After all, most sweets are still loaded with sugar and fat. And, eating too much can cause weight gain, increasing your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

A recommended serving of dark chocolate is seven ounces per week. That’s about one ounce per day.

So, go ahead, treat yourself and your loved ones to some dark chocolate when you bake this holiday season. It’s a cancer prevention trick everyone’s sure to savor.

Looking for an easy, festive dark chocolate recipe? Get our dark chocolate bark recipe.

Related Links
The Sweet Benefits of Chocolate (AICR)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest on protecting your body from cancer. 


Hungry for a healthier diet?

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center