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How-To

Rediscovering Cocoa

This pantry staple can surpass chocolate in delivering sophisticated flavor to desserts from brownies to frozen mocha

Fine Cooking Issue 17
Photos: Carl Duncan
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If you had to make a chocolate dessert, wouldn’t you just reach for the best chocolate you could find? If you said yes, you’d be overlooking an ingredient that often outdoes chocolate in terms of producing superb texture and intense chocolate flavor–cocoa. Both chocolate and cocoa come from cocoa beans; but for most of us, cocoa is a pantry staple that we use occasionally and tend to forget about. To a dessert maker like Alice Medrich, however, cocoa has many virtues: it needs no chopping or melting, so it is easy to use; it has had most of its cocoa butter removed, so it delivers a very concentrated chocolate flavor; it can be combined with other, more appropriate types of fat to make better cookies and cakes. 

Which cocoa is best? is not the right question. Which cocoa should I use for this recipe? is a better one.  Recipes include: Old-Fashioned Hot Fudge Sauce; Rich Cocoa Brownies; Hot Cocoa; Frozen Mocha; and Cocoa Walnut Butter Cookies.

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