Food & Drink

Dutch-processed cocoa doesn’t work in all recipes

Q: I found a chocolate-cookie recipe that called for “non-dutch” cocoa, like Hershey’s. The recipe also calls for baking soda. Could I make it with Dutch-processed cocoa? I don’t find cocoas like Hershey’s to be all that chocolatey.

A: Dutch-processed cocoa has been washed with a potassium solution to neutralize acidity. Because of that lack of acid, you have to use baking powder to get a chemical reaction. Natural, or non-Dutch, cocoa is usually used with baking soda.

You can swap natural cocoa for Dutched and the recipe will still work; but you can’t go the other way, swapping Dutch for natural, without risking that you won’t get a chemical reaction. You might end up with very flat cookies or a cake that doesn’t rise as high.

Just swapping baking soda for baking powder is tricky, because the amounts won’t be the same. You might have to replace the baking soda with twice as much baking powder if you use Dutch-process cocoa.

Dutch-process cocoa is darker in color, which can make it seem like it has more chocolate flavor. But natural cocoa has a fruitier flavor that works better in some dishes.

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