Cacao beans break down into two once processed – one is cocoa butter which is extracted from cacao beans. The dried solid that is left (which we call cocoa solids) after cocoa butter was extracted from cacao beans is ground to produce cocoa powder.
Cocoa Powder Trivia
- Dutch chemist Conrad Van Houten invented Dutching – a process cocoa powder undergoes to increase the pH from 5 to 7, making the cocoa powder less acidic.
- Without cocoa powder (or cocoa solids) and using only cocoa butter, sugar, and an emulsifier, you end up with white chocolate instead of brown chocolate.
- Cocoa powder and instant cocoa mix are two different items. Cocoa mix is used in making a drink called hot cocoa by adding hot water to the powdered mix that contains cocoa powder, sugar, dehydrated milk, and other ingredients. Remember: cocoa powder is for cooking, and instant cocoa mix is for drinking.
Cocoa Powder Buying Guide
With regards to buying cocoa powder, what you will encounter is having to choose between Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or simply Dutched cocoa) and natural cocoa powder. Cocoa powder becomes Dutched cocoa when an alkalizing agent is introduced to the cocoa powder to lessen cocoa powder’s natural acidity.
A natural cocoa powder’s pH level is around 5. It is reddish with a somewhat fruity taste. A Dutched cocoa powder has a pH of 7 and appears as dark brown (sometimes near-black). The taste of Dutched cocoa powder leans towards earthy notes. If you have a preference or if you are instructed to buy either Dutched cocoa or natural cocoa powder, don’t worry because manufacturers indicate that on the label. In baking, natural cocoa will result in more rise in baked goods compared to Dutch cocoa, but baked goods made from natural cocoa are susceptible to ending up dry and crumbly, unlike baked goods made from Dutched cocoa which are moist and fudgy. Dutched cocoa dissolves easily, making it easier to use when cooking. But it also has a lower antioxidant level compared to natural cocoa powder.
Cocoa powder is not a rare commodity and it is easy to find this in the supermarket or grocery store. Natural cocoa powder and Dutched cocoa powder are both available here, usually located in the baking aisle.
Another way to buy cocoa powder is to find local sources. There could be artisanal cocoa powder made by small, local businesses in your area, and buying from these businesses will help sustain their enterprise. You can search for them online or visit your local farmers market for cocoa powder vendors.
You can also order online if this is the most convenient for you. You can order directly from vendors or from online stores that carry cocoa powder products.
Always check the packaging for any signs of tampering or damage that could compromise the quality and safety of the food.
Cocoa Powder Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is known for many things; unfortunately, cocoa powder is not one of them. Primarily because cacao is not grown commercially here because the cold season is not ideal for cacao plants. Texans have access to imported or US-brand cocoa powder through supermarkets and grocery stores. And even if cocoa powder is not a Texas industry, Texans love their cocoa powder-based sweet treats.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
The commercial manufacturing of cocoa powder has led to the use of some companies of chemicals, artificial ingredients, and processed ingredients, like potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate – the alkalizing agent used in Dutched cocoa powder. It could also include acidity regulators like sorbic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid, and propionic acid.
Cocoa powder is an industry that involves many countries from all over the world. Cocoa powder is an important product for American brands, from the giants like Hershey’s to younger companies like Navitas Organics (and there Navitas Organics Cacao powder) and Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa from a Denver, Colorado-based company. Barry Callebaut’s Barry Cocoa Powder is a great choice for people with a tight budget. The company was created from the merging of Belgian and French companies. Divine Cocoa Powder is also another great choice, made by a company that is partly owned (44%) by Ghanian farmers. Ghirardelli Unsweetened Dutch Process Cocoa is from Ghirardelli, a company owned by Lindt which is based in Switzerland, and Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder from Valrhona, is a subsidiary of Savencia Fromage & Dairy, a French company.
Cocoa powder is sold in a can (or plastic container with a lid). You can also buy cocoa powder in a plastic refill pack or a resealable pack. The packaging should indicate if the cocoa powder is natural or Dutched cocoa. It should also contain other important information like ingredients, nutritional information, best before date, storage, and production details. Always make sure that the packaging of the cocoa powder you are buying has no damage.
Enjoying Cocoa Powder
The purpose of cocoa powder is to provide food with a chocolate taste or enhance the chocolate flavor of the food. Cocoa powder is used in making chocolate milk, ice cream, cookies, puddings, pies, brownies, chocolate cake, and many more.
A chocolate bar feels creamy in the mouth when you eat it, and that creamy mouthfeel is what’s missing in cocoa powder when you taste it because that mouthfeel comes from cocoa butter.
Keep cocoa powder in an airtight container and store it in a cool, dark, dry place. You can store cocoa powder for two years or follow the best before or expiration date indicated in the container. If you buy cocoa powder in a container, you don’t need to transfer it. Do not store cocoa powder in the refrigerator or freezer. The cocoa powder will absorb moisture in this cold setting and it will affect the cocoa powder resulting in a change in texture or worse, spoilage.
Make fruity chocolate pancakes at home
Pancakes are a timeless breakfast favorite. It is a good way to start our day because it is sweet and delicious and instantly puts us in a good mood (not to mention help energize our body for the things we are set to do for the day). There’s a lot of ways to make pancakes but I am sure no one can resist a chocolate pancake, especially if it has fruit toppings!
Yield: This recipe makes 4 to 5 pancakes
- 1 ½ cups of pancake mix
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ¼ cups water
- Sliced strawberries
- Strawberry syrup
- Whipped cream
Step 1. Mix everything – pancake mix, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, and sugar to make pancake batter.
Step 2. Make pancakes over low heat.
Step 3. Plate the pancakes. Put whipped cream on top, and then add the fruits. Drizzle with strawberry syrup.
Step 4. Enjoy!