Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 15, 2009 08:20 PM

Why must I use Dutch Processed cocoa for these cookies?

I want to make these chocolate sables:

The recipe specifies DP cocoa, but I don't understand why. I thought you need to use DP when the recipe contains baking soda, but this recipe does not. Is it called for because of the egg whites?

I'd really prefer to use natural cocoa; first, because I have some Ghirardelli non-DP cocoa powder on hand and I like it, and also because DP tastes a little chemical-ly to me.

Do I miss understand the proper utilization of DP cocoa and when it's called for?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Which kind of cocoa is called for depends on the taste of the recipe writer, I think. Baking soda is often added when a recipe calls for natural cocoa, because it is a bit acidic. Dutched cocoa is treated with alkali, a base, to neutralize that acidity, so baking soda isn't necessary. A cookie recipe like this will probably be fine with either cocoa without alteration.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      So if I decide to use the natural powder I have on hand, you don't feel I need to add any soda, right, Caitlin? (Just want to make sure I'm reading your post correctly.)

      Thank you so much for your help.

    2. You can substitute, but dutched cocoa has a deeper color and a more intense chocolate flavor. It's worth it to keep both on hand. I usually use a blend.

      2 Replies
      1. re: The Professor

        That's an idea, Professor. It might help to cut some of the aftertaste that I *sometimes* (depending on the recipe) object to in DP. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

        1. re: The Professor

          Yes, Dutch cocoa does have a deeper color, but... a 'more intense' chocolate flavor is debatable. Alkali, as everyone knows, is caustic. By adding a caustic ingredient to cocoa, you destroy some of the more fragile flavor compounds and end up with a more mellower tasting end product.

          Case in point- the extreme of Dutch processing is black cocoa- deepest color you can get, but almost no chocolate taste whatsoever. If you don't believe me, taste a regular oreo (black cocoa), next to a golden (cocoa free) oreo with your eyes closed. You won't be able to tell the difference.

          Bottom line, alkalinity is flavor destroying, not flavor enhancing.

          Now, since much of modern chocolate has been alkalized in some fashion and palates have been trained to define alkalized chocolate as being more chocolate-y, one could call Dutch process cocoa more 'chocolate-y' (and less fruity), but there's still nothing 'intensifying' flavor-wise about Dutch processing.

        2. You can use regular in this case. If you want a darker color with a more intense flavor, add a little instant espresso powder. I find the same as you with dutch process cocoa.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            I usually do add a teaspoon or two of strong (meaning: the dregs left in the pot, ha) to anything chocolate that I make. In this case, I don't think I care too much about the color. I'm doing platters of assorted cookies, including some dipped in semi-sweet ganache, and that recipe produces a dark finish. If these piped sables turn out dark, that's fine, but if they're lighter in color, the variation between the two chocolate cookies could be nice, visually.

            Yes, re the DP, chowser. Interestingly, I had ATC on this morning for a few minutes and they were featuring some kind of fudgy-interior bundt cake. The recommended mixing DP with natural, as The Professor said last night, to optimize the chocolate taste and reduce the aftertaste. I think I'm just going to go ahead and use the natural only for these cookies, but I'm glad to have heard that tip for future goodies in which I really do prefer to wallow in that dark, chocolatey flavor.