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Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

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

    8 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      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

        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

          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

            Guess it just must be quality differences then.

            1. re: chefj

              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

                You know it.

      2. re: chefj

        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

          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. 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

          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

            As I said above Valrhonal is very good and so is Callebaut
            Here are other discussions on the same topic
            http://www.chow.com/search?q=Best+coc...

            1. re: chefj

              Thanks. ..helpful.

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tripeler

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