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Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 09:43 AM

Am making the Chocolate Sugar cookie recipe from Cook's country (April 2013) and need 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. I noticed I had 2 of them, Ghiardelli's and Scharffen Berger. Both just say cocoa for ingredients. They look very different, one is much darker than the other. And stranger, the Scharffen Berger suggests 3 tab cocoa plus 1 tab sugar per 8 oz cocoa drink and the Ghiardelli suggests 1.5 tab each cocoa and sugar per 8 oz. Are they different strengths or just different tastes? Does anyone have a favorite unsweetened cocoa powder?

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  1. chefj RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 09:47 AM

    Sounds like the Scharffen Berger is Dutched.
    I like Valrhonal.

    8 Replies
    1. re: chefj
      rainey RE: chefj Nov 14, 2013 10:04 AM

      Don't they always say "Dutch" if they've been ducted? I always assumed that was required.

      Cocoa has different colors. I just checked my pantry and Penzey's natural and Dutch cocoa are pretty similar colors. The dutched is darker but not by a lot. Valhrona (which is like a lot too) is considerably darker, but then it's dutched. Says so on the label. And then I have an Onxy cocoa which is dutched and is almost black.

      In the case of each the label identifies it as "Dutch" or "natural". Penzey's would do that. When I don't see Dutch in the name or on the label I assume it's natural. Not a good strategy?

      1. re: rainey
        chefj RE: rainey Nov 14, 2013 11:17 AM

        I don't know do they? I can not see the Labels and the OPoster did not mention it.
        I do know that Dutched Cocoa is has a mild flavor which would account for the doubling in the recipe for Hot Cocoa that was mentioned.
        I was just offering a possibility.

        1. re: chefj
          brooklynbabe RE: chefj Nov 14, 2013 11:37 AM

          I re-read every word on both cans. The Scharfen Berger specifically says "nothing is added to our exceptional cocoa--no milk or alkali." The Ghirardelli says all natural premium baking cocoa and doesn't mention anything else in the ingredients except natural cocoa.

          1. re: brooklynbabe
            chefj RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 11:53 AM

            Guess it just must be quality differences then.

            1. re: chefj
              rainey RE: chefj Nov 14, 2013 01:06 PM

              Could be just a difference in the beans. Cacao comes from different parts of the world with different growing conditions. There are probably differences in processing too that could account for different colors of quality cocoa powders.

              1. re: rainey
                chefj RE: rainey Nov 14, 2013 02:54 PM

                You know it.

      2. re: chefj
        brooklynbabe RE: chefj Nov 14, 2013 10:07 AM

        How can one tell before purchasing? Wikipedia says, "Because Dutch process cocoa has a neutral pH and is not acidic like natural cocoa, it cannot be used in recipes that use baking soda as the leavening agent, which relies on the acidity of the cocoa to activate it. Rather, Dutch process cocoa can be used in recipes that use baking powder (instead of baking soda) for leavening." Perhaps that is why these cookies aren't great.

        1. re: brooklynbabe
          Purzhia RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 10:20 AM

          Oh wow - that would make sense... I think I just figured out why the last marble cake I made didn't rise properly. thanks BB!

      3. m
        MrsJonesey RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 01:01 PM

        If you haven't already made the cookies, you might consider making some hot cocoa with each one per the instructions. Then you can at least do a taste test before you decide which one to use. You could halve each recipe if you don't want that much hot cocoa.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MrsJonesey
          brooklynbabe RE: MrsJonesey Nov 14, 2013 03:34 PM

          Thanks. Made the cookies already. I don't think any cocoa could have saved them. Need to find a better chocolate cookie recipe. But I am still curious about which cocoas are the best quality for future use.

          1. re: brooklynbabe
            chefj RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 04:05 PM

            As I said above Valrhonal is very good and so is Callebaut
            Here are other discussions on the same topic

            1. re: chefj
              brooklynbabe RE: chefj Nov 14, 2013 04:10 PM

              Thanks. ..helpful.

        2. Tripeler RE: brooklynbabe Nov 14, 2013 04:12 PM

          I always put a little pure cocoa powder in my chili con carne.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tripeler
            rainey RE: Tripeler Nov 14, 2013 04:25 PM

            Mole style. Me too. A pinch of cinnamon too.

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