Using the best cocoa Powder in cooking is essential to the flavor and texture of food, and it adds a distinct chocolate flavor to dishes and is tasty to beverages. Many online retailers offer this ingredient. But you must make sure that you purchase the right kind with a guarantee and the right ingredients. It should have a USDA certification and be made from raw, organic cocoa beans.
The first thing to consider is the brand. The brand name is a good sign of the product’s quality. Check whether a guarantee backs the company. It’s essential to buy certified organic products, and some manufacturers will guarantee their products and offer a warranty. It’s always recommended to buy food-grade cocoa powder because it is purer and better quality than the cosmetic-grade version.
How to Buy the Best Cocoa Powder for Cooking?
In a blind test, our Test Kitchen—a team of professional bakers—sampled ten brands to see which ones would make these cocoa-forward recipes shine. As they sipped their chocolate and examined their samples, each baker kept these traits in mind:
The color of cocoa powder varies from pale brown to reddish to practically black. Our chefs took notice of the color of each cocoa and how it would affect baking.
A good cocoa powder should have a robust chocolate flavor without being overly sweet. Depending on the cultivar, cocoa can have intense dark chocolate or a softer milk flavor. It should taste good in any case, with no chalky aftertaste or too sweet additives.
Expensive ingredients such as vanilla, almonds, and chocolate chips are worth the extra money. Our team wanted to see if the price of the cocoa powder was reflected in the quality throughout this test.
How to Choose the Best Cocoa Powder for Cooking?
Some Best Cocoa Powder for Cooking
Natural cocoa powder
This is the most widely available cocoa powder in stores and recipes. It is occasionally labeled on packaging as “unsweetened cocoa powder” or “pure cocoa powder,” indicating that it is unprocessed beyond the initial separation from the cocoa butter and grinding into a powder. It has a light brown color and a delicious, rich, and bitter flavor.
Cocoa beans are acidic by nature, and regular cocoa powder is acidic, with a 5.3 to 5.8. This makes it an excellent addition to baking soda-based recipes since the cocoa will initiate the chemical reaction that results in lift and lightness in the finished product.
Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
Dutch-process cocoa powder is prepared by soaking cocoa beans in an alkali solution, which neutralizes the acidity and reduces the bitterness (a procedure pioneered by a Dutch chemist in the 1800s). According to some people, the final product has a darker hue and a milder flavor than natural cocoa powder, giving baked foods a deeper, fudgier flavor. It’s sometimes called “alkalized cocoa powder” or “treated with alkali.”
Suppose the recipe only calls for a bit of cocoa powder, utilizes baking powder or a combination of baking powder and baking soda, or does not require baking (ice cream, sauce, custard, etc. ). In that case, you can use Dutch-process cocoa powder instead of natural cocoa powder. However, if your cake or brownie recipe calls for the lift of baking soda combined with an acid to create the perfect consistency, make sure to use non-alkalized flour to get the right crumb and chew.
Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder
If you’re a chocolate connoisseur, you’ll want to invest a little more in this pantry staple. Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder is a next-level cocoa powder that our Test Kitchen recommends.
Because of its incredible texture, Valrhona is a favorite among our professional bakers. This cocoa has a velvety texture and a virtually creamy mouthfeel when mixed into hot chocolate. This dark-hued cocoa also has a fantastic flavor complexity; it’s not just plain chocolate; it’s chocolate with subtle dark cocoa notes and a brightness that catches your attention.
Guittard Red Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
While regular cocoa powder works well in most baking recipes, Dutch-process cocoa is sometimes required (sometimes called Dutched cocoa or alkalized cocoa). If a recipe calls for Dutch cocoa, like this Brooklyn Blackout Cake, our Test Kitchen suggests Guittard Red Dutch-process Cocoa Powder.
Guittard Dutch cocoa is smoother and milder than typical cocoa powders, which is precisely what our Test Kitchen looks for in an alkalized cocoa powder. This brand had a wonderful mellow chocolate flavor with a warming finish. This is the perfect alternative for any recipe that calls for this type of cocoa.
CocoaVia Cardio Health Cocoa Powder
How to Keep Cocoa Powder Safe?
Whatever cocoa powder you choose to keep in your baking cabinet, there’s just one rule to remember: keep it in an airtight container in a superb, dry location. That concludes our discussion. Invest in good baking storage if your cocoa doesn’t come in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Cocoa, fortunately, has a long shelf life, and it lasts around three years if properly preserved. So you have a long time to use that container, even if cocoa isn’t a frequent ingredient in your recipes.
What happens if your cocoa is past its expiration date? Don’t worry. Using expired cocoa powder is quite acceptable. The flavor won’t be as strong, but it’s perfectly safe to use (unless it smells off or looks strange).
Like your spice collection, the cocoa powder should be kept in an airtight container in an excellent, dry location like your pantry or cupboard. The fridge or freezer may appear appealing, but both promote humid environments, which should be avoided while working with cocoa powder. Cocoa powder can be stored for up to two years in a cool, dry place, although the flavor strength diminishes over time.
How to Use Cocoa Powder?
You will likely use cocoa powder if you are cooking any chocolate dish. Brownies are the most apparent application, but birthday cakes, Bundt cakes, loaf cakes, flourless chocolate cakes, and cookies are all enhanced by the concentrated fudgy flavor of this pantry staple, which is also available in powdered form.
If you prefer not to bake, you can use your cocoa powder (natural, Dutch-process, or black) to make the frosting, ice cream, fudge, or even luxury hot chocolate, depending on your preference.
Smoothie with Cacao Powder
Smoothies and high-quality cocoa powder are a natural match. The smoothie’s sweetness conceals the cacao’s slightly bitter flavor, making this a perfect way to get started with cacao powder. Blend your favorite fruits (strawberries, bananas, or blueberries work great) with Greek yogurt and a little ice to produce a cacao smoothie. Add one tablespoon of cacao powder for a rich, chocolatey explosion of flavor.
Cacao Powder can be Sprinkled Over Fresh Fruit
The intense flavor of cacao powder complements the natural sweetness of fruits nicely. This is the ideal nutritious treat for those who are watching their calories. Slice your favorite fruit and cover it with cacao powder to make an antioxidant-rich treat. Cacao powder pairs beautifully with pineapple, raspberries, and bananas.
Make Cacao Brownies that are Rich and Decadent
The brownies from a box will pale compared to this variation made with natural cocoa powder. Replace the cocoa powder in your favorite brownie recipe with raw cacao powder. To balance out the chocolatey cacao powder’s strength, you may need to tweak the sugar or add a sugar substitute. Chocolate lovers will love these decadent cacao brownies.
Make Granola Bars at Home
Don’t be put off by the prospect of making your granola bars. They’re not as difficult to make as you would assume! Furthermore, homemade granola bars contain less sugar and more nutrients than store-bought varieties. The base for the perfect granola bar is rolled oats and your preferred nut butter, with honey or agave syrup added for natural sweetness (Heimbuch, 2014). The taste and nutrition you need in a well-balanced energy bar are provided by adding nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and a sprinkle of cacao powder or cacao nibs.
Homemade Truffles with an Intense Chocolate Flavor
Truffles are one of the most delectable sweets available, but they sometimes contain heavy whipping cream and can be time-consuming to prepare regularly. A simple dairy-free recipe using shredded coconut, raw honey, coconut milk, almond butter, and raw cacao powder proves this point. These truffles are quick and easy to make and have a rich, distinct chocolate flavor. An excellent final touch is to roll them in raw cacao powder. Check out the fantastic recipes below for a complete recipe for chocolate truffles with cacao powder.
What are the Health Benefits of Cocoa Powder?
Improves The Function Of The Heart
Cocoa powder can be safely used daily to promote heart health due to its low cholesterol content. Cocoa powder is also high in anthocyanins, which inhibit fat buildup in blood vessels and increase blood flow to and from the heart, guaranteeing proper cardiac muscle performance.
Improves The Digestive System
Cocoa powder is high in fiber, which helps to reduce constipation, bloating, and stomach cramping after a big meal. Furthermore, its laxative properties regulate bowel motions, alleviating any stomach discomfort.
Cocoa powder aids in the regular evacuation of wastes from the body through the excretory system. It increases the release of fluids within the kidneys, allowing toxins to be excreted quickly while ensuring optimum hydration of the body’s internal organs. Cocoa powder aids the kidneys and bladder’s normal functions in this way.
Enhances Respiratory Functions
Cocoa powder contains natural expectorant and decongestant properties, which means it can easily loosen and eliminate excess phlegm or mucus secretions from the respiratory tract. This improves lung function while also preventing allergies and breathing problems.
The price of cocoa powder might reflect the quality of the beans used; higher-quality beans have a higher fat content, which results in a richer flavor. However, cheap cocoa powders may not always result in inferior baked goods. Hershey’s natural cocoa powder outperforms powders that cost twice as much in many taste tests, presumably due to the nostalgic flavor of the component.
When purchasing cocoa powder, you may want to think about ethical farming practices. The websites of groups dedicated to pointing customers to ethical chocolate options and brands like TCHO or Valrhona with “fair trade” and “organic” on their labels are a fantastic place to start.