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Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa?

Anyone know about this? How can cocoa be "dark"?

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  1. I believe it's in reference to their Special Dark chocolate bars, which have a stronger cacao flavor. They are just building on the existing well-known name.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojoeater

      My niece baked a cake with it yesterday. Literally it is DARK. This is the blackest-looking chocolate cake I've had. The flavor might be a bit deeper, not nec. richer, though.

    2. Well, thank you! I saw that in the store recently but wasn't in the market for cocoa and forgot about it. After reading your post I googled it. It is Dutch Process.

      Until a couple of years ago they marketed a "Hershey's Dutch Process Cocoa" that I loved. Then it disappeared from my grocery shelves and my grocer said he couldn't find it anywhere, so I've been ordering DP cocoa from Penzey's.

      Wonder if Hershey's is trying the same thing under a new name. I'll get some and compare it w/my Penzey's and report back. If it's like their old DP it sure makes great chocolate cookies and frosting.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PhoebeB

        I had wondered about that possibility, and now that you mention it I realize that I haven't seen the dutch process cocoa in a while. That's exciting because it makes it a real product rather than a marketing gimmick.

        1. re: kindofabigdeal

          Hershey's phased out the Dutch Processed a few years ago and replaced it with the Special Dark. You can think of it as Ultra-Dutched cocoa, meaning that it gets soaked in alkalines (bases) longer than plain Dutched.

          Oreo cookies (the cookie part) are an example of something that has ultra-dutched cocoa. The more alkalized cocoa is, the darker it becomes, which gives the impression of a richer taste. But I just think it ends up tasting alkaline, like talcum powder.

          1. re: wittlejosh

            any idea where it falls on the PH scale? Can it replace dutched cocoa or is it too alkaline?

            1. re: kindofabigdeal

              Hi, I've actually used the Special Dark in a choc cake that I normally used the Hershey Dutch Process in. The cake was extraordinarily dark, but I'm not convinced the flavor was any richer. However, the texture was a bit different, not as moist as when I used the Dutch Process.

              That is my experience, although not very a very scientific answer for you, as there were many other variables that could have affected the texture.

              As a note, though, the cake was still extremely good despite the textural differences and consumed in it's entirety within two days.

      2. Hmmm. Good question. How CAN one cocoa be darker than another. Chocolate bars become "darker" by having a higher percent cocoa. Anyhow, Valhrona cocoa is darker and has a much more chocolately flavor than normal cocoa. It is not dutched, unless I am mistaken. Can someone enlighten?

        2 Replies
        1. re: danna

          There are basically two styles of cocoa powder. Natural and Dutch Process. Natural cocoa is made by defatting cacao beans, then pulverizing the cocoa solids. Natural cocoa is slightly acidic, with a pH of around 5-5.5.

          With Dutch Process cocoa, the solids are soaked in an alkaline solution before being pulverized. (The original reason was to counteract the slight harshness of those acids.) Dutch Process cocoas tend to have pHs in the 6.8-7.2 range (7 is neutral). The longer (or more) a cocoa is "dutched," the darker the pigments are. Hershey's Dutch process was in this range. Their Special Dark product is even more alkaline, hence the darker color.

          Because baking depends on a delicate chemistry of acids and bases, most recipes call for one style or another. Although Cook's Illustrated a few years ago did a test on interchanging the two in various recipes, and didn't find much in the way of leavening differences. (Full Disclosure: I worked at CI several years ago, but no longer work for them.)

          Most pastry chefs used Dutch Process cocoa, especially in restaurants, because it delivers a darker color and some say that eliminating some of the acids yields cocoa with fuller chocolate flavor and less harshness.

          Some Natural Cocoas: Hershey's (the original), Merckens, Nestle, Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger

          Some Dutched Cocoas: Callebaut, Hershey's Special Dark, Valrhona, Droste, Schokinag, Pernigotti

          Incidentally, Cook's Illustrated tested that Special Dark Hershey's when it first came out and found that the extra "dutching" delivered baked goods that came out drier than baked goods made from regular dutched or even natural cocoa.

          1. re: danna

            ...In other words... Hershey's use of "dark" is not the same as dark when it refers to chocolate bars. Its marketing.

          2. I just bought a 2.2 lb bag of Barry Cocoa Power - Extra Brute, made in Belgium. It doesn't say on the bag whether it's Dutch processed, so does that mean it's not?
            I baked with it 2 days ago & it's definitely darker than the reg.cocoa powder I'd been using. The results were good, ' more chocolate-y' was the comment made by others.

            4 Replies
            1. re: morebubbles

              General rule: If it looks beige, it's natural. If it looks like ground coffee (or chili powder), it's Dutched.

              And if it's European, there's a a high probability it's dutched.

              1. re: wittlejosh

                Very informative, thank you. So it's Dutch processed. Perfect description of colors (it's dark reddish-brown, like a cross between the two items you mentioned!).

                1. re: morebubbles

                  The canister I have says it's a blend of natural and dutched. It is very dark and even a small amount made my final product look a little muddy. The taste was good, though.

                  1. re: JFla

                    I'm a health food nut and drink hot cocoa every morning. This article claims that the "Dutching Process" greatly reduces the flavanol content of cocoa:
                    "Alkalising cocoa beans reduces the total flavanoid content by two-thirds, reducing the antioxidant potential of the product, according to new research. "
                    http://www.nutraingredients.com/Resea...

                    Yet, at the Hershey website, the company claims that their "Extra Dark Cocoa" has superior levels of flavanols.

                    I'm confused.

            2. I always bake my brownies using the recipe on The Hershey's Cocoa package, but I really like dark chocolate, so when I saw the Special Dark Cocoa I just had to try it. I used the same recipe, the batter was dark, like black, and a little stiffer, and the resulting brownies were OK, not great, just OK. I use Hershey's recipe for everyday brownies, but when it's a special occassion I make Barefoot Contessa's Outragous Brownie recipe.

              Tim