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WHAT is it..?
Cocoa powder has very little cocoa butter in it it&rsquos mainly cocoa solids. In other words, you can think of cocoa powder as chocolate with most of its cocoa butter removed. Cocoa powder generally contains just 10 to 12% cocoa butter, while pure unsweetened chocolate contains about 55%. So, ounce for ounce, cocoa powder packs a bigger punch of chocolate flavor, because you&rsquore getting more cocoa solids and less cocoa butter.
Types of Powder
If you're making natural cocoa powder, that's the end of the line. Chocolate is naturally acidic, so natural cocoa powder typically has a pH between 5 and 6 (for context, water is 7, right in the middle). That acidity bears out in natural cocoa's flavor, which gives the cocoa a sharp, almost citrus fruit finish. Remember, that just like a chocolate bar, cocoa powder flavor varies by brand. While all natural cocoas will have certain characteristics in common (bitterness and astringency), flavors will vary based on the cacao bean and how it's manufactured.
Dutch process cocoa powder (also sometimes called "alkalized," "European style," or "Dutched") is washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa's acidity to a pH of 7. Although all cocoa powders can vary in color from light reddish brown to a richer dark brown, the Dutch process gives the powder a noticeably darker hue.
Dutch process cocoa has a smoother, more mellow flavor that's often associated with earthy, woodsy notes. There are also heavily Dutched "black" cocoa powders that bring the cocoa powder to an alkaline level of 8. This the kind of bittersweet cocoa you'll find in Oreo cookies.
Since Dutch process cocoa isn't acidic, it doesn't react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That's why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.
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