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Dec 22, 2010 04:53 PM

Chocolate cake cookies taste flat

I tried making the Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies featured on Serious Eats. It called for dutch-process cocoa powder. All I could find at my grocery store that was dutch processed was Hershey Special Dark Dutch & Natural Cocoa. After I made these cookies/cakes, I tasted them and they tasted flat -- I can't find a better word to describe it other than flat; it tasted like the chocolate wasn't activated (if that makes sense). Was the cocoa I used the problem? Or is the cookie supposed to taste like this?

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  1. Dutch process cocoa has had it's acidity neutralized. So it's flavor will be somewhat more muted and have less "bite" than natural cocoa.

    1. Just a guess but, did you forget the salt? Chocolate anything without salt is a day without sunshine.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        Yeah, I remember putting 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in there, because I didn't know whether to use kosher salt or table salt. And I figured if it didn't say, to use regular salt, since the other part of the recipe called for sea salt.

        1. re: fingermark

          Rule of thumb. Whenever a recipe calls for "salt" as an ingredient and doesn't specify otherwise, you can assume it's table salt. Ipsedixit makes a very good point, something I overlooked. Chocolate is alkaline .... Dutch-process cocoa is not.
          Is this the recipe (or close to it) that you used?

      2. Did you remember to add baking soda (even though the original recipe may not have called for it)?

        When subbing Dutch-process cocoa with cocoa powder you need to add about a 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda for every 1 ounce of Dutch-process cocoa.

        Dutch-process cocoa has been treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity. Because it is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used.