Baking Science

Eggnog Cupcake

Cocoa Anatomy

Cocoa beans naturally start out at about 50% fat.  After fermenting, drying, roasting, and de-husking, the beans are ground to a paste; at this point it’s essentially baking chocolate. When put through a hydraulic plate press, squeezing out about half of the cocoa butter, a hard disk of concentrated cocoa remains. This block is then ground into cocoa powder.    

Vocab

Cocoa Butter: fat squeezed from cocoa beans

Cocoa Solids: the substance remaining after the cocoa butter has been removed from cocoa beans

Cocoa Nibs: roasted, de-husked cacao beans broken into pieces

Natural Cocoa Powder: cocoa beans that have been roasted and ground into a fine powder. Baking soda, which is alkaline, is generally paired with natural cocoa in recipes to neutralize its acidity.

Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder: dark, milder tasting cocoa powder treated with an alkali (potassium solution) to neutralize its natural acidity. Baking powder, also near-neutral in pH, is paired with Dutched cocoa in recipes.

jill_cocoa powder

Black cocoa: cocoa powder that has been heavily-Dutched  Ex: Oreo cookies

Unsweetened/Baking Chocolate: pure, ground, roasted chocolate beans (cocoa butter + cocoa solids)

Dark Chocolate: cocoa butter + cocoa solids + sugar

Milk Chocolate: cocoa butter + cocoa solids + sugar + milk powder or condensed milk

White Chocolate: cocoa butter + sugar + milk powder or condensed milk (no cocoa solids)

Notes & Tips

  1. Cocoa powder can be used instead of flour to dust pans
    (especially if concerned with gluten free cooking)
  2. Because of the differences in chemistry, Dutched cocoa powder and natural cocoa are not reliably interchangeable in baked goods. The easiest substitution advice I found is:
    • To replace natural cocoa and baking soda with Dutch-process cocoa, substitute an equal amount of Dutch-process cocoa but replace the soda with twice the amount of baking powder.
    • For Dutch-process cocoa powder and baking powder, substitute the same amount of natural cocoa but replace the baking powder with half the amount of baking soda.
      (The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

cocoa

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