Food & Drink

Ask The Editors: Unsweetened Vs. Dutch Cocoa Powder

Every Friday, we select a question from our Facebook fans and answer it in this weekly column. This week, we explain the difference between Dutch-process cocoa and regular unsweetened cocoa.

Facebook fan Donna Jepson asks: Can I substitute regular unsweetened cocoa powder for Dutch cocoa without any changes to the recipe?

This is actually a very common question that we hear people ask all the time. The simple answer is no. The two cocoa powders are completely different. And here's why.

Cocoa powder is made by separating cocoa butter from cocoa solids. There are two different processes that can be used, the Dutch method and the Broma method. Unsweetened cocoa, which is dark brown, acidic and bitter, goes through the Broma method, which doesn't involve any additional steps as does the Dutch method. To produce Dutch-process cocoa, the solids are neutralized with an alkalizing agent. This visually turns the cocoa a pale reddish brown and makes it chemically nonreactive.

Recipes specifically call out whether they require Dutch-process or unsweetened cocoa. It's not a good idea to swap out regular cocoa for Dutch cocoa or vice-versa. Dutch-process cocoa does not react with baking soda like regular cocoa does, so you should only use Dutch-process cocoa in those recipes that have baking powder. Dutch-process cocoa is more commonly used in European-style cakes and confections, where its subtle chocolate flavor is preferred to the strong taste of regular cocoa. But for chocolate cakes and brownies, you'll want to use regular cocoa, because it has that robust chocolate flavor. But, please, do not use drinking cocoa in baking recipes.

Thanks for your question. We hope this helps you in your baking adventures!

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Watch the video below to learn how chocolate is made from bean to bar.