Frequently Asked Questions about Cocoa

Cocoa Butter Questions:

What is cocoa butter?
Cocoa powder initially starts as a bean. To make baking cocoa, the bean (or nib) is compressed at high pressures and fat is squeezed out of the bean, which is called the cocoa butter. The powder that remains is the cocoa powder. Cocoa butter is the fat contained in the bean. It is solid at room temperature and solidifies when cooled. It’s great for molding.

Why do you add the cocoa butter to your cocoa?
Once added to cocoa or chocolate, cocoa butter adds smoothness and delicious flavor.

Substitution Questions:

Can you substitute Dutch processed cocoa powder for natural cocoa?
According to Fine Cooking magazine, “You can substitute natural cocoa powder for Dutch-process in most recipes (though not vice versa). Flavor and texture can be affected, but generally only in recipes calling for 3/4 cup (75 g) or more.”

Can I substitute ground chocolate for cocoa powder?
No. There are different amounts of cocoa butter in chocolate vs. cocoa powder therefore will not have the same result in taste, color, or how the finished product is baked.

Dutch Processed Questions:

What is Dutch Processed Cocoa?
Initially, cocoa powder has a very acidic taste to it. In order to neutralize the taste, we add alkali to the nibs (“the meat of the cocoa bean”) before they are roasted. This alkalization process helps modify the flavor and color of the final baking cocoa product. The alkalization process is called Dutch processing.

Why Is Cocoa Dutch Processed?
Natural cocoa powder has a very acidic and bitter taste. In order to neutralize the taste we Dutch process it to give it a more consistent flavor than natural cocoa. With Dutch processed cocoa, you will have a more all around consistent flavor result in your baking.

Is there a difference between Dutch processed cocoa and natural cocoa when baking?
Yes, since Dutch processed cocoa is neutralized (by alkali), it does not react with baking soda (which is an alkali). In recipes calling for baking powder there must be an acidic ingredient used in sufficient quantities. In most recipes requiring cocoa powder, it will be combined with baking powder or perhaps more butter and then a leavening agent. When a recipe calls for natural cocoa (which is acidic) and baking soda (an alkali), there is a leavening action that takes place, which causes your batter (etc.) to rise in the oven. If you have one without the other, your baking recipes will run into trouble.

Other Cocoa Questions:

Why do the colors of baking powder change?
The less acidity, the darker the color. Natural cocoas are lighter, Dutch processed cocoas like Rodelle, are darker which give a richer appearance. Also, Cocoa is an agriculture product and slight color variations are typical.

Is your Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa Gluten Free?
Yes, it is.

Cocoa Fun Facts

The first time cocoa, or chocolate was used as a romantic gesture was in the Mayan culture.

The Aztecs used cocoa to create a form of “hot chocolate” or as they called it “xocolatl” which means bitter water.

Supposedly the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma – was quoted saying of Xocolatl: "The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food"

More Great Facts!

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