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Blog Categories: Desserts

Cocoa Powders, How Are They Different?

Posted 02/23/2016

 

Spice & Tea Merchants carries two varieties of baking cocoa powder, a regular Dutched cocoa (organic), and a Chocovic brand of cocoa powder with a rich flavor and deep dark red color (also a Dutch-processed cocoa).

Though, what is the significance of being Dutched (alkalized), and how are the aforementioned cocoa powders different from each other?

Before we answer these questions, let’s get a better understanding of what cocoa powder is and how it’s made. In a nutshell, the process works like this:

  • Cacao/cocoa beans are fermented, dried, and roasted.
  • The beans are then ground into a paste, which is known as chocolate liquor (unsweetened baking chocolate). The main components of the liquor we’re interested in are cocoa butter (fat) and cocoa solids.
  • The chocolate liquor is pumped into hydraulic presses, which remove the majority of the cocoa butter. (The cocoa butter is used in other applications, such as white chocolate.)
  • With the majority of the cocoa butter removed, we’re left with mostly cocoa solids, which are dried and ground into cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder produced from the process above is a natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder. Natural cocoa is somewhat acidic, and in recipes is often paired with an alkaline leavening agent, such as baking soda. The reaction between the two yields carbon dioxide, which causes batter to rise.

Now, back to the first part of our original question, what is Dutch-processed cocoa? The process of Dutching, created by the Dutch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828, is when cocoa beans are treated with an alkalizing agent, such as potassium carbonate. This alkalization neutralizes acids, darkens color, and mellows the flavor.

In many instances, Dutch-processed cocoa is preferred for its smoother, more chocolaty taste. However, it’s not acidic, and won’t react with an alkaline leavener. Due to this, Dutched cocoa is paired in recipes with baking powder, as baking powder creates its own rising reaction. As a side note, if a recipe doesn’t use a leavening agent or uses baking powder, you may use any cocoa powder.

As for the difference between our regular Dutched and Chocovic cocoa powders, the Chocovic has undergone a more intensive Dutching process, which results in an even darker color and enhanced chocolaty taste. It also has a higher cocoa butter content, 20-22% (natural is around 10%), granting a richer flavor and brownie-like aroma. This is definitely our go-to cocoa powder!

Click here for our favorite brownie recipe featuring the Chocovic cocoa powder.

Filed under Baking | Desserts |
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