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Cocoa Powder 101

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

Cocoa powder, the finely ground, pressed substance left after cocoa butter has been extracted from the beans, is an indispensable ingredient in many recipes which adds a wonderful flavor. The two types of cocoa powder are Dutch process and natural, and it is best not to substitute one for the other -- just stick with what your recipe calls for.

Dutch Process
"Dutched" cocoa differs from natural in that an alkaline solution is added to the beans during roasting, mellowing their acidity. Reddish brown and milder tasting than natural cocoa powder, Dutch process cocoa powder is ideal in baked goods where its subtle flavor complements the other ingredients. It should be combined with an acid such as baking powder.

Natural or American-Style
Natural cocoa powder is acidic, so must be combined with an alkaline ingredient such as baking soda to create bubbles of carbon dioxide, which cause leavening. With an intense, bitter, deep chocolate flavor, it tastes great in brownies and cookies.

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Our viewer mail participant received an apron from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's.

Comments (1)

  • joyfarm 4 Apr, 2008

    This segment was just in time for me, as I'm baking the Mocha Spice Cake from Martha Stewart's Wedding Cake Book. I made a small version of the the cake yesterday to see how it would taste, but I made it with regular cocoa. It turned out pretty good. The recipe calls for Dutch-process cocoa powder and baking soda. This article states that Dutch-process cocoa powder should be combined with baking powder. So which is it for this recipe? Is there a reason for baking soda with the Dutch-process?