Not all of us fully understand the importance of Cocoa powder and this is sad news. Cocoa powder pumps life into desserts! Chocolate cakes or chocolate brownies, it is the ingredient that will elevate the flavor of your dessert. It truly takes the end result to another level altogether. Today, we are going to talk about everything cocoa powder. The best brand, the best way to use it, how to store it, and more!
Now, before we jump into it, I understand that the world of chocolate is too vast to be true. Cocoa powder is where everything originates from- common knowledge. But, you wouldn’t even understand the beauty of using good quality of cocoa powder unless you use it. Some are so beautifully dark and we all know what magic dark chocolate spurs into desserts. Sure, there are a lot of common brands selling commercially produced cocoa powder. But, if you every get hands on a better quality, a more authentic one, don’t give up on it! It makes all the difference in your desserts.
Cocoa powder benefits
Of course I am going to shed a little light on how wonderful this ingredient is for our cakes (and our bodies). It significantly reduces risk to heart attacks and strokes and helps in reducing high blood pressure. Like chocolate, it really helps to uplift moods as well. It increases blood flow, aids weight loss, and also has cancer preventing qualities. On another note, if you want a natural exfoliator, this powder is the way to go! It helps the skin to let go of dead skin cells, opens your pores, and what not! Just because baking is my profession doesn’t mean I don’t care of my skin, haha!
What is Dutch processed cocoa powder
It’s just the best ever form of cocoa powder for ANY of your desserts. This has a very scientific explanation. Dutch processed comes from those cocoa beans which are made neutral after dipping them in a slightly alkaline solution. Since all amount of acidity goes away, there is no reaction of this form with baking soda. This process also gives it a color that is darker and oh so beautiful! It also has granules that are not as stubborn as the granules of the normal powder. So, this property helps it to get gorgeously incorporated with all liquids whatsoever. Science is so magical- I can’t even. It also has a very subtle yet ‘harmonic’ cocoa flavor. Basically, the cocoa flavor is not a slap in the face. It’s something that has been beautiful combined with a couple of other ingredients to present an outstanding dish!
Dutch processed versus Natural
Natural cocoa powder is the exact opposite. No dipping in any alkaline solution and it is a result of grinding some finely toasted cocoa beans. This basically makes cocoa manufacturing an easier and a cheaper process. This is why it is less expensive than Dutch processed. It also has a very strong cocoa flavor and the granules are a little more than unfriendly. To ensure that your cocoa is well incorporated in your dish when you’re using the natural version, you have to MANDATORILY sieve it at least once. If not, it’s highly stubborn and acidic and might fail your dessert. Also, another thing to note- because of its comparatively higher acidic nature, natural version is paired with baking soda. If your recipe does not mention baking soda and you’re using natural cocoa powder, add 1/4 teaspoon to give a nice rise to your dessert!
What is meant by unsweetened cocoa powder?
The very words ‘unsweetened’ means that the sugar content in your dessert is coming from sweeteners one commonly uses in desserts and not coming from the cocoa powder. In India, the most common brand one sees is Cadbury. However, it’s not unsweetened and imparts an even sweeter taste to your dessert. This sometimes is highly undesirable. Unsweetened cocoa powder ensures a true flavor of cocoa powder and your sweetener content is also in your hands. There is no unsweetened cocoa powder substitute per se. So, the best shot is to use a version naturally unsweetened.
Why can’t I use cocoa powder to make ganache?
Well, honestly, where this is a will there is a way. However, traditional ganache recipes requires you to use chocolate and butter and this obviously has a reason behind it. Nothing happens just like that in baking. It is a process with proper procedures, sort of like Chemistry. So, it is a proper science more than it is an art. One needs to really respect this fact if they are to produce beautiful desserts. Now, back to Ganache, it is obviously something that requires a good amount of fat. But, cocoa powder is made after removing all the fat. Thus, it’s just simpler to use some chocolate and butter or cream.
How do I store it to make sure it doesn’t lose it’s flavor?
This process is easy. Just like your coffee doesn’t really like moisture, neither does your cocoa powder. Store it in air-tight containers in a very, very dry place. That’s it!
Brands that I prefer?
The brands I use for my desserts are the ones that are commonly available to me. Hersheys is currently the best brand out there, especially in India. It’s unsweetened, not that expensive, and works beautifully! You can also go for Weikfield!