The Difference Between Natural And Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder, And When To Use Each

The Difference Between Natural And Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder, And When To Use Each

Throughout your many baking adventures, you may have noticed that some chocolaty recipes call for “Dutch-process cocoa powder.” It may seem extraneous to have two types of cocoa powder in your pantry, but there is a difference between the Dutch-process and “regular” stuff.

Photo by Jayca.

Not only do they taste differently, but they react differently on a chemical level. For baking purposes, natural and Dutch-process cocoa can be substituted for each other in small amounts, but doing so in entire cakes will get you into trouble. Here’s what you need to know about each one:

  • Natural Cocoa Powder: Cocoa beans are naturally acidic, and so is natural cocoa powder. This cocoa works best in recipes that use baking soda as a leavening ingredient, or in non-baked treats where you want a funkier, slightly sour chocolate flavour.
  • Dutch-Process Cocoa: This cocoa powder has been treated with an alkali (basic) solution, neutralising the acidity and taming some of the harsh flavour (and giving it a deeper colour). Because of this, it can’t be used in recipes that call for baking soda as a leavening ingredient; the sodium bicarbonate won’t have anything to react with. If, however, the recipe uses baking powder (a leavening agent that has its own acid built in) Dutch-process will work beautifully.

Got a recipe that uses both baking powder and soda? Either cocoa will work. Just keep in mind that Dutch-process cocoa has a milder flavour and deeper colour.

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