Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Article

Dutch-Processed vs. Natural Cocoa

Fine Cooking Issue 48
Photos: Scott Phillips
Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

Two types of cocoa powder are available to the home baker—Dutch-processed and natural—and I have long wondered if it really mattered which I used for what.  

The first thing I learned in trying to answer this question is that natural cocoa tends to be a rather inconsistent commodity, varying in flavor, color, and intensity. In the mid-nineteenth century, a Dutch chocolate manufacturer came up with a process by which he could better control and standardize the color and flavor of cocoa. The process, which involves washing the cocoa (before or after grinding) in an alkaline solution, became known as Dutch-processing. The resulting cocoa is consistently darker in color, mellower in flavor, and less acidic than the natural (nonalkalized) powder. Some sources claim that it is also more soluble in liquid, but in my tests making hot cocoa and pudding, I didn’t notice much of a difference.  

Dutch-processed cocoa
Natural cocoa

In tasting several brands of Dutch-processed cocoa along side a few natural cocoas, I did find that Dutch-processed cocoas are indeed less bitter than natural ones. When baking, however, any bitterness from natural cocoa is generally mitigated by the sugar, butter, and other good things. In cakes and brownies, the Dutch-processed cocoas tend to produce moister and deeper colored baked goods—an advantage that makes it a favorite of many pastry chefs.

In baking recipes, you’ll need to decide which cocoa to use based on the leavening the recipe calls for:
• Use natural cocoa—which has high acidity—in cakes made with baking soda; baking soda is an alkali and relies on an acid in the batter to produce leavening.
• Use Dutch-processed cocoa— which is much less acidic—in batters made with baking powder or eggs (or both), since these are leaveners that don’t depend on an acid in the batter to work.

Because of the importance of acidity and leavening, you may find some slight differences in the texture and height of your baked goods if you substitute one type of cocoa for another. In general, however, I found that only the recipes calling for 3/4-cup or more of cocoa powder were really affected.

Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Paris, France (504)

Experience Paris like a local in this special episode of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking. Host Pete Evans pays a visit to two culinary icons: chefs Patricia Wells and Guy…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks