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Oct 9, 2012 12:22 AM

Chocolate vs Cocoa Debate: Is it true when....?

I can't remember the source of this information but I'm sure it came from a Youtube cooking video. Someone said that if you use real melted chocolate in baking, the flavor of the chocolate actually gets diluted, so its much better to use cocoa? Is that true? I always thought the opposite; that when you use chocolate over cocoa, the flavor would be more powerful.

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  1. Both chocolate and cocoa have fans when it comes to baking. I know there are several experienced bakers on this board that dislike cocoa-based baked goods but like chocolate-based ones, and vice versa. Personally, I enjoy both, though I think that cocoa-based recipes are best if the cocoa is bloomed in warm liquid or oil before being incorporated into the rest of the ingredients (and I always alter cocoa-based recipes to include this step if it's not already part of the instructions). Personally, I like the flavor of recipes that use both cocoa and melted chocolate the best of all - that way, you get the best of both worlds!

    1. Cocoa is basically chocolate without the cocoa butter, the fat. Cocoa butter is responsible for the texture of good chocolate, but does not contribute much flavor (think 'white chocolate' without the sugar). Eating chocolate also has sugar, up to 50% for semisweet, 30% for the darker ones.

      But the difference in consistency is really more important in baked goods. One is a powder, the other a liquid. You can't simply substitute one for the other in a cake recipe.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        You can sub one for the other, but you have to adjust the amount of fat and sugar you use as well. It can definitely be tricky.

      2. Thanks for the replies you three. So I found the original clip that mentioned this. It was actually Giada who said this. She talks about a favorite cake of hers and how its used with coco over baking chocolate to achieve a more potent flavor.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Purdys_99

          IMO, this is how food myths are born. A celebrity chef says something on TV and it gets taken for gospel even though they're talking out their ass.

          1. re: Purdys_99

            gives the proportion of cocoa butter in various forms of chocolate. Nibs, one of the least processed forms, is about half cocoa butter, the other half being the nonfat cocoa solids. The high fat cocoa powder mentioned in the video is about 24% fat (e.g. penzeys


            uses 3/4c cocoa powder for 1 3/4c flour, 2 9" pans.

          2. In some ways cocoa is a purer chocolate taste because it has no fat, no lecithin, and no sugar. At least, theoretically, baking a cake with cocoa should be as good or maybe even better than chocolate. For that to be true, you would have to shop cocoas and find what you consider to be a very good tasting cocoa.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Hank Hanover

              That might be true if the chocolate/cocoa were unadulterated, but in a cake, fat, sugar, eggs, etc. are all present anyway, so there is no guarantee of a purer chocolate flavor with cocoa over chocolate. This is absolutely a question of personal preference and quality of raw ingredient, plus quality of recipe.

              1. re: biondanonima

                Is there a way to tell whether something's been made with either cocoa or chocolate or both in terms of taste and texture?

                1. re: Purdys_99

                  I don't think so - or if there is, you'd have to have a way more sensitive palate than I do. I think if the recipe is good and your technique and ingredients are good, you should end up with a chocolate dessert that is good! I know there are some bakers on the board that dislike cocoa-based cakes though (I believe because they find them dry), so perhaps one of them will weigh in on the finer points of what makes cocoa-based recipes stand out in a negative way to their palates.

            2. based upon my limited experience, cocoa powder provides a deeper, darker chocolate looking baked good versus using chocolate.

              I've never tried substituting one for another so I'm not sure of the results.