Cocoa powder, and unsweetened chocolate product, adds deep chocolate flavor to desserts and beverages. Cocoa powder occurs when the fat, called cocoa butter, gets removed from the cacao beans during processing. The leftover dried solids get ground into the product sold as cocoa powder.
- Origin: Fruit of a tropical tree
- Varieties: Dutch-processed and natural
- Uses: To flavor desserts and drinks
Cocoa Powder vs. Chocolate
Bar chocolate combines cocoa solids and cocoa butter along with sugar and some form of an emulsifier such as lecithin to hold the ingredients together. Cocoa powder contains primarily cocoa solids, with only about 10 to 15 percent cocoa butter vs. the 50 percent or more in chocolate.
Higher-quality cocoa powder retains slightly more cocoa butter than lesser brands. Cocoa powder is the missing ingredient in so-called “white chocolate,” which is produced by combining cocoa butter and sugar (plus an emulsifier) but no actual cocoa solids.
Cocoa powder is not the same thing as instant cocoa mix, which, when combined with hot water or milk, instantly produces a mug full of hot cocoa. Typically sold in packets, this product contains cocoa, sugar, dehydrated milk, and other ingredients. But you would not use it to bake brownies or chocolate cake. And don’t try to make a cup of hot chocolate by simply adding hot water to unsweetened cocoa powder.
The two basic types of cocoa powder are Dutch-process and natural. You’ll find them labeled both ways, in addition to products that say “Dutch and natural blend.”
Pure ground cocoa powder has a pH level between 5.3 and 5.8, putting it on the acidic end of the scale. The acidity affects the flavor, the way it interacts with other ingredients, and its solubility.
The natural cocoa powder produced with the Broma process retains the natural pH level. It tends to be more intensely flavored, and a lighter, almost reddish-brown color. The Dutch process (sometimes called “Dutching”) bathes the cocoa beans in an alkaline solution, producing a darker brown cocoa powder with a chemically neutral pH of between 6.8 and 8.1, resulting in a more mellow flavor. Dutching also reduces the antioxidant properties of cocoa.
Cocoa Powder Uses
The Dutch process produces a cocoa powder that dissolves more easily, making it easier to work within recipes such as ice cream and chocolate drinks.
For baking, the type of cocoa you use does matter, because the acidity of the cocoa powder might be the only thing activating the leavening agent in the recipe. If a recipe calls for baking soda, for example, the natural cocoa powder works fine, because the acidity in the cocoa activates the baking soda. If a recipe calls for baking powder (or both baking powder and baking soda), then it probably also calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
Cocoa at Komoditas Nusantara
As a natural commodities exporter, we are dedicated to using business as a force for good. For us, this means being committed to sustainability and transparency in our supply chain. Our organic chocolate is made with cocoa grown by farmer co-ops in Bali.
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