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Nov 14, 2009 04:14 AM

Good Cocoa Powder??

I saw Ina Garten make this amazing brownie pudding which I replicated to the delight of my friends, even the ones who don't like dessert!

Here is the recipe

Well my question is about the cocoa powder. I used basic Hershey's brand but I know it's not the best, only the best that Kroger had. Earlier this morning when I went in (open 24 hrs), they had some Ghiradelli Baking Chocolate mix and it said "with Cocoa Powder." I would assume that Ghiradelli would be better than Hersheys. But do you all have any idea if this is legit cocoa powder or something that I should stay away from?

I have seen sell very good cocoa powder, as they do vanilla beans btw. I always buy them from the JR mushroom place on But back to the powder; their quantity is too large. I believe it's a kilo and thats ridiculous for me to buy that much.

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  1. I just picked up some Valrhona cocoa powder at The Fresh Market- 1/2 lb was $6 something. I haven't used it yet, but it definitely looks and smells much richer than any other cocoa powder I've ever had.

    I found this on the web:

    Unsweetened chocolate is a mixture of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Unsweetened cocoa powder starts out as unsweetened chocolate. Then the cocoa butter is forcibly removed, and the remaining solids are ground to a powder. So the difference between baking chocolate and cocoa is all that cocoa butter — generally as much as 55% of the baking chocolate.

    When you substitute cocoa for unsweetened chocolate, you generally use 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 1 tablespoon of butter, oil, or shortening to replace 1 ounce of chocolate. Since you want to go in the opposite direction, you need to find a way to remove from your recipe the extra fat you are adding. For each ounce of unsweetened chocolate you use, omit 1 tablespoon of whatever fat is called for elsewhere in your recipe, if possible.

    Depending on your recipe, you may also have to manage blending and mixing issues, as melted chocolate and cocoa do not necessarily have the same mixing properties at all ranges of temperature, but we're sure you can master that challenge.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JenJeninCT

      Just as an aside, I think you got a very good price on the Valrhona. I paid $8 for 10 oz. of Ghirardelli (also in Connecticut). My regular store sells Valrhona solid chunks off the block for baking, but not its cocoa powder. I'm going to watch for it when I have occasion to stop in other stores.

      1. re: JenJeninCT

        Second on the Valrhrona...Seen it as low as $6, either at Whole Paycheck or Sonoma

        1. re: BiscuitBoy

          Then that's really reasonable, IMO. I'm going to look for it around here.

        2. re: JenJeninCT

          I paid $10.50 for 8.82 oz at Sur La Table.

          It's worth it, though. Makes the best brownies I've ever had.

          1. re: JenJeninCT

            Exactly what I would recommend - the Valhrona is excellent baking cocoa powder.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I used it recently in the Beranbaum chocolate Valentine heart from her new book and was very happy with a cocoa chocolate cake for the first time ever. Man what a cake!

              1. re: buttertart

                I need to be in your neck of the woods next time you make that. :-)

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Come on down (or east, or north) whichever it is!

          2. I always use the dutch process cocoa from Penzey's ( It's very high quality and reasonably priced, especially compared to Valrhona. I order several pounds at a time from Penzeys and it works perfectly in everything. Give it a try!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Cakegirl

              Second Penzey's -- both their natural and Dutch process cocoas are excellent and not expensive.

            2. I checked the Ghiradelli website and can't find anyting called "baking chocolate mix":
              so I don't know if it's straight cocoa or a blend of cocoa and ground baking chocolate, which is my guess. Ghiradelli does carry a good cocoa powder, however.
              I second the Valrhona note, it is good cocoa, but a bit pricey.
              I also like King Arthur Flour for cocoa powder choices:

              2 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I've never seen the Ghirardelli mix, either, but if you've ever been out there, they do sell just about everything but a Ghirardelli kitchen sink (yum, chocolate the size of a sink!), so maybe it's available in certain parts of the country.

                I like Gh.'s cocoa powder, but then, it's my favorite (nationally distributed) U.S. chocolate.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  KA used to carry a kilo bucket of the Schokinag cocoa. I'm not sure when they stopped, but I've finally run out and am looking for a replacement, I'm currently using Ghiradelli because that's the best my grocery store has, but I did like that Schokinag.

                2. There is nothing at all wrong with Hershey's Cocoa Powder, especially the version that is a blend of Natural and Dutched cocoa. I've used it with great results...and results equal to what I've made with the more expensive brands.
                  Do a side-by-side, as I have done, and I think you will reach the same conclusion.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: The Professor

                    I've made some great things with Hershey's, too, Professor (including my favorite killer fudge brownies with a very naughty and addictive chocolate glaze--yum), but I do notice flavor differences between nearly all makers of chocolate (whether eating chocolate, baking chocolate, or cocoa powder). Sometimes I think it's just a matter of what kinds of flavors or nuances you want for a certain dish, but when I make that brownie recipe I spoke of, I'll only use Hershey's.

                    1. re: Normandie

                      Ok, are you going to spill on the naughty and addictive chocolate glaze recipe, or leave us all hanging?

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Well...okay...buttertart. But I don't want to be held responsible for any sugar crashes anyone might suffer a couple of hours after eating these:

                        1. Mix by blender or hand until combined:

                        1 stick butter or margarine
                        1 cup granulated sugar
                        4 eggs
                        1 can less 4 ounces Hershey's syrup (the 4 oz. will be used later)
                        1 cup plus 1 tablespoon AP flour, sifted
                        1 t. vanilla
                        1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

                        2. Bake mixture above in well greased pan at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. [Note: the original recipe never said what size pan, but I always used a 13" x 9". Don't really know if it was intended for a 8" or 9" square pan.]

                        3. Glaze--Don't overcook, but heat until just boiling:

                        1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
                        6 tablespoons milk [or just go crazy and use cream]
                        6 tablespoons margarine or butter

                        4. Once mixture above achieves the boiling point, mix in the reserved 4 ounces of the Hershey's syrup. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Start mixer on low, to guard against splatters from hot glaze.

                        5. Pour beaten mixture over brownies while still warm.

                        [Notes: It's been a few years since I made these. I'm not sure whether I liked them more while they were still warm with the oozy glaze, or after they had set, when the glaze took on a ganache-like finish. I just know I liked them! Also, I'm not crazy about Hershey's syrup, because to me it has an aftertaste; however, I really like it on these brownies. These are really rich and sugary--not for the faint-hearted, but they are deliciously fudgy.]

                        1. re: Normandie

                          Holy cow, those sound great. Thinking of making them over Tgiving wkend for the family. Thank you very much!

                          1. re: Normandie

                            PS how many ounces in a can of the syrup? I have a bottle lurking in my fridge so would wan to use it up. Thanks in adv again!

                            1. re: buttertart

                    's been a few years since I made these, so it's been a few years since I had a can of the syrup in the house. I went to look on the Hershey's site, buttertart, but all I saw were the bottles. So...I know those cans had more than a cup...I'm guessing they were probably a pint.

                              So I'd do up to 1-1/2 cups of the syrup in the brownie batter itself, and then, per the instructions, use the 4 ounces for the glaze.

                              You're welcome, btw. I hope you like them. You might want to cut them a little bit smaller than you might more cakey brownies. Just an alert since they are so fudgy and sweet.

                              1. re: Normandie

                                Thinking of these for a chocoholic nephew who never met a sweet too sweet. I'm going to email Hershey's and ask, and let you know. Thanks again!

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Lucky nephew, to have such a thoughtful aunt!

                                  If you get an answer from Hershey's, would you mind posting it? That way I can note it on the recipe, in case the cans aren't readily available. You have me thinking that I might make these again for the Christmas goodies table.

                                    1. re: Normandie

                                      They answered within a few hours.
                                      "Thank you for contacting The Hershey Company.
                                      For assistance with your question, there are 12 ounces by volume in a 16 ounce can.
                                      Your interest in our company is appreciated."
                                      They didn't indicate that the cans were no longer available, period. But I don't recall seeing them lately.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        What does that mean, buttertart?

                                        That if you measured it out, you'd get 1.5 cups? Or that you'd get 2 cups filled with liquid, but it weighs 12 ounces?

                                        1. re: Normandie

                                          Looks like it means that the 16-oz can *weighs* 16 ounces, but contains 12 fluid ounces, or 1.5 cups. So if your recipe above holds back 4 fluid ounces, rather than 4 ounces by weight, you'd use 1 cup in the brownies, and the remaing half cup in the glaze.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Though my memory is fuzzy now, that makes sense--to have used 1 cup of syrup in those brownies. A cup-and-a-half seems like it would be a *lot* of that syrup on TOP of one cup of sugar....

                                            On another topic, seems misleading if a company can label a can "16 ounces" but you only get 12 ounces of product. It seems to me that if it's a liquid product, they should have to display the amount of product you get in liquid terms. If it's a solid product, then expressing the amount of food product by weight would be okay. JMO.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              That's my interpretation. 4 oz extra seems heavy for a can (but I was anmazed to see how much my dutch oven weighed when I was weighing fruitcake fruit in it last week so it makes sense). Yes 16 oz/12 oz is a bit misleading.

                            2. re: Normandie

                              I have tried Nestle' cocoa & Ghirardelli, & I will never stray from Hershey's again! I have been baking with it for 40 years (yikes) & it never lets me down. I use it for Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake, Coca Cola Cake, brownies, no-bake cookies, & that yummy hot fudge pudding cake. I'm not a cocoa snob, but after using those other 2 only because Hershey's was out-of-stock that day.........why continue to try other, more expensive & hard-to-find brands when you have had success with the old fashioned kind?

                              1. re: lnghrnfn

                                Well, that's the thing, Inghrnfn. Chocolate is one of those products in which every brand has a unique personality and character to its flavor. Individuals have to stick with the one they feel tastes best, has the best texture in cooking, is most reliable, etc.

                                I think it's important that we try different things, but once we've done that, if a particular item or brand pleases us and suits our needs best, that's what's important, even if not everyone else agrees with us.

                          2. I like's a Dutch process. It's not too hard to find in supermarkets. A lot better than Hershey's. Red box.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: scuzzo

                              I love Droste, too. Say the word "Droste" to my mom and she'll talk for days about its virtues...we always had some in our cabinet when I was little. Much better than Hershey's, I agree. I use it for cheesecakes, hot cocoa, hot fudge, everything.