Should I use cocoa powder or chocolate in my cake recipes?

Chocolate cake is always a good idea. But does it matter if you’re using real chocolate or the canned powdered stuff that’s kept somewhere in the back of your pantry?

First of all, the powdered stuff that tastes a lot like drinking coffee straight out of the jar is just as “real” as the delicious stuff you’d want to eat a block of.

Cocoa powder is one of the raw materials used in the production of chocolate. It is made by roasting ground cocoa beans at high temperatures. To make chocolate, add cocoa powder to cocoa butter, additional fats, and sugar. To achieve a smooth, even chocolate, other emulsifiers are often added as well. Milk chocolate will also have milk added as a main ingredient.

“When you add cocoa powder to a cake, you’re essentially adding a gluten-free flavoring that has similar baking qualities to cornmeal, but has that beautiful flavor,” says Anneka, BakeClub creator and baking guru. Manning.

Anneka likes it because as a raw ingredient, you always know exactly what you’re putting in your chocolate cake. “Chocolate can vary in cocoa butter solids and other things,” she explains. “With cocoa, you get the same product every time.”

Find the recipe here.

As cocoa is a ‘raw’ chocolate ingredient, it also means you can better manipulate the flavor of your cake by adding sugar and fat to get your desired texture and flavor. More fat will create a denser cake, more sugar will dilute the natural bitterness of the cocoa. You can also experiment using different fats and sugars to create your own unique flavor.

This brings us to Anneka’s preference for her baking.

“It’s like a brownie,” says Anneka. “Do you like a cakey brownie or a sweet brownie?”

“Both give you that delicious chocolate flavor, but each adds something very different to a chocolate cake,” she notes. “I often use both because I want the texture of chocolate, with the more intense flavor that can be obtained by adding extra cocoa to the recipe without the added fat and sugar that comes from adding the chocolate.”

Get the recipe here.

For Kirsten Tibballs, pastry chef and beloved chocolate queen, a cake made with good quality cocoa powder beats chocolate. “By adding cocoa powder you get a great chocolate flavor without the sugar, which you normally already have in a chocolate cake recipe,” she explains.

His advice on what makes a ‘good quality’ cocoa? “Use Dutch-processed cocoa powder with 22 percent fat,” he advises. “A Dutch-processed cocoa is alkaline on the pH scale, which will soften the texture of your cake and give it a great hint of chocolate flavor.”

Science aside, it all comes down to texture. A cocoa recipe is usually a lighter cake with a large crumb. Chocolate will result in a sweeter cake with a smaller crumb and a denser texture. “You don’t want to use chocolate on a sponge, as it will weigh down your texture,” warns Anneka.

“It’s like a brownie,” says Anneka. “Do you like a cakey brownie or a sweet brownie?”

Most of us would say we like both, but for the record, cocoa will give you a cakeier brownie and chocolate a sweeter result. That’s not to say you won’t get a cocoa-only chocolate cake (exhibit A: Donna Hay’s cocoa-based and no-chocolate chocolate cake), but when you’re starting your chocolate cake mix journey It’s a solid place to start.

Find the recipe here.

Anneka has a tip for brownies and another recipe that you do want to use chocolate in: mud cake.

“To intensify the flavor, add some cocoa powder as well,” he says.

For the slimiest mud cake, be sure to use good quality dark chocolate (not compound cooking chocolate, which is made with vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter) with a high cocoa mass. Then, substitute about a quarter cup of the flour in the recipe for cocoa powder.

All the big, bold, bitter flavor of a cocoa-based cake with the same rich density of a real mud pie. Winning at its peak.

Did someone say chocolate cake?

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