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Monday, April 24, 2017

Cacao or Cocoa? Dutch-Process Alkalized vs. Natural Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder? Which Cocoa Powder is better for baking?

Chocolate is definitely my favorite treat. If you want to get to know more about chocolate and different types of cacao then keep on reading! I prepared some interesting facts about cacao.

What is Natural Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder and Dutch-Process Alkalized Cocoa?

Natural Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder is solid unsweetened chocolate (pure roasted cocoa beans) with most of the fat removed before being ground to powder.

 Natural cocoa powder is the most concentrated form of cocoa beans and that's why is bitter and strong. You don't need to use a lot of it to achieve deep chocolate flavor. Cocoa beans are naturally tart and acidic. Natural cocoa powder has more fruity and complex flavor. The best natural non-alkalized cocoa powder preserve the true flavor and complexity of the cocoa bean. It is very important to get the best quality natural cocoa powder, because lesser quality natural cocoa may be quite harsh and inedible. Natural cocoa will give your baked goods lighter brown color.

Natural non-alkalized cocoa is acidic so it's perfect for baking, because if you combine it with baking soda then these two ingredients react together creating bubbles, which make your cake rise in the oven.

Natural cocoa is rarely labeled with the word natural on the package. It usually simply say "Cocoa Powder", "Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder" or "Unsweetened Cocoa Powder."

Dutch-Process Alkalized Cocoa is natural cocoa that’s been treated with an alkalizing agent to lower the acidity.

Dutch-process cocoa, alkalized cocoa powder is processed to reduce the acidity of natural cocoa. Alkalizing change the flavor and color of the cocoa. Cocoa that is highly alkalized has even darker color and deeper flavor. Dutch-process baked goods naturally come out darker.
Dutch-process cocoa powder gives this deep chocolate flavor, especially in brownies - they come out deeper, darker and even more decadent than if using natural, unsweetened cocoa.

Dutch-process cocoa (alkalized cocoa) may be also labeled as "cocoa processed with alkali."

What's the difference between Natural Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder and Dutch-Process Alkalized Cocoa?

The only difference between alkalized and non-alkalized cocoa powder is that with alkalized cocoa, the cocoa beans are soaked in a low-acid/alkaline solution before being dried and ground. Natural, unsweetened cocoa is made from cocoa beans that are roasted and then ground.

Dutch-process cocoa goes through the soaking process to lower the acidity which results in a darker cocoa powder and deeper, more chocolatey flavor of the cocoa. So cocoa powder is less harsh, but stronger, definable chocolate flavor. 

What's the difference between Cocoa Powder and Cacao Powder?

The only difference between Cocoa Powder and Cacao Powder is that cocoa is heated at much higher temperatures than cacao during processing and that gives cocoa sweeter flavor.
This processing affects the beans on a molecular level, changing their structure and degrading some nutrient content.
Cacao powder is less processed than cocoa powder, has more powerful antioxidant effects and health benefits. Cocoa powder still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process. Cocoa is as healthy for your heart, skin, blood pressure as unprocessed raw cacao.

100 grams of raw cacao powder has an ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of 95,500 (antioxidant capacity), cacao nibs have 62,100, cocoa powder has 26,000. 
This doesn't mean that cocoa powder is not healthy, but it only shows that cacao powder has a little bit more antioxidants. Don't forget that if you heat up (bake) cacao or cocoa powder to high temperatures then it doesn't really matter, because then both of them will have similar ORAC at the end.

What is Black Cocoa Powder and how to use it?

Black Cocoa is highly alkalized and has the signature charcoal color and flavor (like Oreo cookies, which are made from it). Black cocoa is usually used in cake and cookie recipes to achieve black color. This type of cocoa is a lot harder to get, but you can create some fabulous looking cookies and cakes. You can get Black Cocoa Powder here.

Which Cocoa Powder is the best?

Dutch-process cocoa powder have a more rich, deeper chocolate flavor and color. Natural, non-alkalized, unsweetened cocoa powder great to use in smoothies, but personally I prefer the taste of dutch-process cocoa powder a lot more. Maybe because I grew up in Poland, where that was the most commonly used cocoa powder.

Where to buy good cocoa and cacao powder and how much does it cost?

Here is the list of some natural non-alkalized and dutch-process cocoa powder + cacao powders I could find.

Frontier Natural Products, Certified Organic Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder -  $13.38 ($13.38 / pound)

Frontier Natural Products, Certified Organic Cocoa Powder Non-Alkalized - $17.44 ($17.44 / pound)

Valrhona Cocoa Powder - $12.99 (250g - 8.82oz | $51.96 / pound)

Valrhona Cocoa Powder (on Amazon/not sure if authentic Valrhona) - $64.96 ($9.84 / pound)

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa - $16.16 ($0.65 / ounce)

Droste Cocoa Powder - $26.52 ($1.00 / ounce)

Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder (100% Cocoa Extra Brute) - $19.70 ($8.95 / pound)

King Arthur Flour Cocoa Powder (Bensdorp Dutch-Process) - $21.99 ($1.37 / ounce)

Pernigotti Cacao Powder (contains vanillin*) - $29.75 ($13.52 / pound)

ChefShop Cocoa Powder (formerly known as "Pernigotti Cocoa") - $25.99 ($11.81 / pound)

Callebaut Baking Cocoa Powder - $31.89 ($14.50 / pound) 

Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Cacao Powder (Organic) - $10.49 ($0.66 / ounce)

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