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So, you *shouldn't* use dutch-processed cocoa for all your baked goods???

I was under the impression that dutch-processed cocoa was always superior, but in the "Ina's chocolate cupcake..." thread, it seems that isn't so? I just bought some dutch cocoa at Penzey's to try an upgrade my cocoa as well as my baked goods, so what's the deal here? If you aren't using dutch-processed or a recipe calls for regular cocoa, then what kind should you be using? Are we then talking just Hershey's with the latter or something else entirely? What would be a perfect recipe to try out to really showcase the dutch-processed cocoa?

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  1. While moderate Dutching helps alleviate harsh notes, overly Dutched cocoa loses taste.

    1. I am under the same impression as you... I've made that recipe 2x now and would have used the Dutch process cocoa if it calls for cocoa... Can't remember off hand if it actually does, but I do remember that Hershey's syrup is in the recipe (which I used, as recommended). The cupcakes turned out dense both times. Was this as a result from the Dutch process cocoa???

      Alas, I have found a recipe for chocolate cupcakes that I prefer... (Martha's one bowl Chocolate cupcakes) but am using the recipe from Ina's for the chocolate ganache.

      1. Some of my recipes turn out better with natural cocoa, like Hershey's, and some are better with a good Dutch. I prefer Dutch for frosting, for example, and for my regular chocolate cake, but in my hot fudge pudding cake, it doesn't taste right unless I use natural cocoa. Dutching changes the acidity level, which can seriously affect certain baked goods.

        1. #1. Dutching makes cocoa milder. I prefer the acidity of natural. Although I have been using alot of Valrhona lately with Herme's books. It's great.

          #2. Any recipe that uses chemical leavening and calls for natural cocoa, should not use dutched unless you adjust the leavening. Otherwise the akalinity of the cocoa will throw off the recipe.

          It is not superior. Of course, Valrhona cocoa is much better than Hershey's natural. That's just the quality of the cocoa, not because of the dutching. Both have their uses in my kitchen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Becca Porter

            So Valrhona is dutched? I was wondering. I 've been using it for everything since I found it in bulk at Chocosphere.

            So I should mix in some regular cocoa if the recipe has chem. leavening?

            1. re: danna

              I would use all natural if the recipe calls for natural. If it calls for dutch-processed then the leavening has been adjusted already.

              Yes, Valrhona is dutched.

          2. P.S. I love Penzey's natural and dutched. Buy both and use whatever the recipe calls for. I do love Penzey's dutched in my chocolate sorbet recipe.

            1. Funny you should ask! Right now, I am eating some chocolate cake I made last night with natural cocoa! Cocoa is naturally acidic. Baking soda is alkaline. The interaction of the two creates goodness and light. (To see an immediate visual of the interaction between acid and base, put some baking soda in a cup and then add some vinegar for a homemade volcano. Actually the cake I'm eating also has vinegar in it too! Double reaction!) Dutch processed cocoa is treated with alkali, reducing the acidity of cocoa, making it practically neutral. This means that if a recipe calls for baking soda and natural cocoa and you sub dutch process, no reaction will occur (which means no leavening) and also the result will taste weird - almost soapy, if I were to try to attach an adjective to it. It seems like to me that baking soda=natural cocoa, baking powder=dutch process, otherwise it doesn't really matter and use what you like. But maybe some of the baking experts out there can confirm or correct - I know the baking soda/natural cocoa thing is true because I ruined a cake once when I was being lazy and ignoring my college education, but not absolutely certain about the baking powder/dutch process part.

              1. Very interesting! I learned so much today! grubn... funny you should mention the volcano, my mom and I used to do those daily in my sandbox when I was little!

                1. Cook's Illustrated did a taste test when Hershey's replaced their European cocoa with Special Dark which has been dutched. They tested both natural and dutched cocoas with different leavening agents and found no difference. They liked Callebaut dutched cocoa best and Mercken's natural tied with Hershey's dutched for 2nd place.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sharonanne

                    I love Mercken's choclate. Their bars are great for candy making.

                  2. The Penzy's high fat cocoa is a product similar to the Hershey's product, but far superior in taste. It's the only thing I buy, and I get rave reviews on my chocolate cakes, frostings, etc.