Hersheys Chocolate Cake Recipe
I know the Hershey Company wouldn't approve, but is it ok to use dutch-processed cocoa for this recipe (Droste)? Do you think it would improve the cake, change the flavor/texture, or make no difference at all?
I've used both types of cocoa in that particular recipe with no discernible difference.
It's not the fat content in cocoa that is the baking issue, it's the acidity of the cocoa. Cocoa has about 75% of the cocoa butter removed during processing, and normally contains 22-25% fat, but there are lowfat and fat-free versions of cocoa on the market.
Dutch process cocoa has a stronger flavor and a darker color than natural cocoa. It has a lower acid content, as it's been treated with an alkali, usually baking soda, to neutralize the inherent acidity. The recipe has to call for baking powder or, in lieu of that leavening agent, another acid (like buttermilk or sour cream) to result in proper leavening.
Natural cocoa has a more complex flavor, lighter in color, is somewhat bitter, and can be used successfully in recipes calling for baking soda leavening (an alkali), as it is acidic. The cake recipe you're using calls for both baking powder and baking soda, so you can use either type of cocoa with great results.
Hershey's has a natural cocoa on the market, which is just ok, IMO. Valrona or Callebaut ar much better and really not much more expensive than the Hershey's, considering the quality. Hershey's is almost $5 for 8 oz, in NYC, Valrona is $34 (Amazon price) for 2.2 lbs, Callebaut is $29 for 2.2 lbs. Both these cocoas are Dutch process. Perhaps you can purchase some and split the cost with baking friends. A kilo (2.2 lbs) of cocoa is quite a lot.
I 've never used Droste, so I can't comment on the quality, but it seems like it's about the same price as the Valrona or Callebaut. The King Arthur Flour Company www.KingArthurFlour.com sells natural cocoa manufactured by De Zaan. Whole Foods or Trader Joe's probably carries natural cocoa as well.
Cocoa keeps very well, stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place.
Natural cocoa is better for baking and Dutch process for hot chocolate and chocolate drinks, but I use them somewhat interchangeably, depending on the leavening agent in the recipe.
I always sub hot brewed coffee for half the water in the cake recipe. You don't taste coffee but coffee enhances chocolate flavor greatly. Try it next time you make the cake.
Don't forget to use the frosting recipe that goes with that cake. Although it doesn't make enough to ice the cake completely, (I find it's just enough for the filling and the top layer) it's a basic, good tasting, easy to make icing.
So there's the cocoa rundown. Enjoy your cake.
BTW, my cat (my avatar) is named Cocoa.
Thanks for that tip about the coffee. People rave about the Hershey's "Black Magic" cake that has coffee in it, but since the ONE cake that I've made successfully is the Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake, I've been afraid to try a different recipe. But now I'll just use the PCCC recipe and use hot coffee instead of the boiling water it calls for.
And for CarolB, just a bit of trivia about the PCC cake: the way I found the recipe was that our local paper here in Birmingham AL has a weekly recipe column where people write in and ask for a favorite recipe from a local restaurant. A BBQ place was asked for the secret to their very popular chocolate cake and they offered the recipe, admitting that it's on the box of Hershey's cocoa. So now I make it all the time--but I don't tell people where the recipe is from; I just let them enjoy the best chocolate cake they've ever had. :-)
One small difference, the Black Magic Cake uses buttermilk and calls for a cup of coffee. The PCC uses regular milk and I sub 1/2 cup coffee for 1/2 cup of the water.
If you're like me, I don't often have buttermilk around. A reasonable substitute is clabber milk instead (1 Tbsp. white vinegar in 1 cup milk, let set a few minutes.)
How different is the flavor profile? Make both and decide.