Raw chocolate powder and cocoa powder both have a rich, chocolaty flavor, but the two are not interchangeable in recipes. All chocolate powder contains cocoa, but cocoa powder does not contain ground chocolate. The biggest differences between the two are the nutrition and flavors. The nutrition discrepancy depends on the ingredients used in chocolate powder not included in cocoa powder, and the flavor differences lead to each powder having its own uses. Since the two ingredients cannot be substituted for each other, it is best to have both in your kitchen.
Cocoa powder is the defatted chocolate solids left after the cocoa butter is removed from the chocolate, creating a low-fat powdered product. There are two main types of cocoa powder: natural and Dutch process. Natural cocoa powder has a slightly reddish tint and is highly acidic. Dutch process cocoa powder has been treated with alkaline and has a darker brown color. Raw chocolate powder comes from grinding whole bars of chocolate. Additional sugars and cocoa butter that were in the chocolate bar before grinding it will still be present in the powder.
The nutrition of cocoa powder depends on the amount of cocoa butter filtered out before the leftover solids were ground. Cocoa powder is considered low fat if it contains less than 10 percent cocoa butter, and high fat if the cocoa butter accounts for more than 20 percent of the weight of the cocoa powder. The nutritional content of chocolate powder depends on the brand and the amount of sugar and cocoa butter added to the whole chocolate before it was ground into powder.
Cocoa powder is used in baking and for making hot cocoa with the addition of sugar and milk. Natural cocoa powder is used for any baked good recipe calling for cocoa, but if the recipe specifically requires Dutch process cocoa, use it to avoid throwing off the acid-base balance of the recipe. Dutch process cocoa powder can only be used in baked goods using baking powder, because it lacks the acidity to interact with baking soda. Chocolate powder is primarily added to hot milk or water to make a hot chocolate beverage.
Natural cocoa powder retains the complex fruity flavors of chocolate. Dutch process cocoa does not have the same acidic flavor of natural cocoa. The process of adding alkaline to the cocoa mellows the flavor and darkens the color. Chocolate powder contains added sugars and fats. While it does contain cocoa, the additional ingredients in the chocolate powder interfere with fully tasting the chocolate. The sugars and fats keep the chocolate powder from tasting as chocolaty as unsweetened natural cocoa powder.
- University of Connecticut Dining; Catering Newsletter; Spring 2011
- David Lebovitz; Cocoa Powder FAQ; February 21, 2010
- Food Network: Baking Ingredient Guide
- "The Science of Good Food"; David Joachim, et al; 2008
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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