There is an easy answer to these questions, but before we get to that, let’s talk about how these two types of cocoa are different from each other and why it’s a good idea to use one over another, depending on the recipe.
How is Cocoa Powder Made?
Dutch processed cocoa and baking or unsweetened cocoa are manufactured with the same process initially.
It all begins with cacao beans! Cacao beans grow within large pods. At the time of harvest, the pods are split open and the beans are removed from the pod. The beans are set aside for a time so they can ferment.
The nibs are then ground up to produce a paste-like substance called chocolate liquor. Make no mistake; this is not the chocolate liquor you would want to drink!
The cocoa powder comes from the solids, which are pressed a second time to produce a product called press cake. Once the press cake has dried completely, it’s ground up to produce cocoa powder.
Dutch Processed Cocoa vs. Baking Cocoa
The Dutch processed cocoa goes through one more step than the baking cocoa. It’s treated with an alkaline solution resulting in a neutral product, or one with no acidity.
This type of cocoa is much darker than the baking cocoa and it has a milder taste.
The healthier choice is the natural cocoa, but if you’re using the powder to make a dessert, perhaps that isn’t as important as if you were using the powder in a main dish or vegetable side dish.
Which One Do You Use in a Recipe?
You may remember that I mentioned there is a quick way to know which cocoa powder to use in your recipe? Here is how I remember it:
A...If the recipe calls for baking soda, then the recipe is calling for Natural Cocoa.
B...Recipes containing baking powder and cocoa require the Dutch cocoa.
Jarrod at Homeschooling Dad had this to say:
As a cook, I would recommend that if your audience sees baking powder in a recipe that calls for natural cocoa they shouldn’t be too concerned.
Baking powder is simply baking soda with cream of tartar and cornstarch and a few trace chemicals that make it double acting (some of the leavening occurs when it comes in contact with liquid but the majority happens when it meets the heat).
Baking soda by itself is single acting (all the leavening occurs when it meets liquid).
Uses for Cocoa Powder
Both of these types of powder are fantastic for baking, but they can be used in other ways too.
Keep in mind that it's never a good idea to substitute one for the other as if they are interchangeable. See the bottom of the page for a link to baking and cocoa substitutions (if you absolutely have to make a substitution).
Now you’re an expert! That was simple, wasn’t it? Want to try out your new-found knowledge? Try Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe HERE!, Mint Brownies Recipe HERE!, or Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe HERE! and see how easy it is to make the distinction between these two types of cocoa powder using the simple tip above.
Maybe you don’t have the type of powder you need for the recipe on hand. You can make substitutions (click HERE!) if you don’t want to run to the grocery store right away.
Easy Cocoa Drink Recipe
Jarrod was also gracious enough to share his family's favorite cocoa drink mix!
He also mentioned that a great way to use up all of those peppermint candy canes from Christmas is to crush them up with the hot chocolate.
Adding 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with the cocoa and milk will give you a thicker consistency if you so desire.
Many thanks to you Jarrod for sharing with us!
And Just One More Thought...
Wondering which kind of chocolate to use in your recipe?
You won't wonder any longer once you read about all the delicious types of chocolate HERE!!
Check it for ideas and suggestions...or maybe just to look at the pictures!