Why it Works: Nuts for Cocoa
One of the purest forms of chocolate flavor you can buy is cocoa powder. It is literally the powder left after squeezing the cocoa butter out of the cocoa bean and it comes in two basic forms: natural and Dutch-processed. Regular, or natural unsweetened cocoa, is the type you probably grew up with and your mother used to make brownies and cakes. Alkalized or Dutch-processed cocoa is the same natural cocoa with a base (alkali) added. Dutch-process cocoa is washed with an alkaline solution, this gives it a smoother taste and a redder color. Both types of cocoa have pros and cons. Natural cocoa has more of the subtle flavors of the cocoa bean, but it can also taste a little too bitter. Dutch-process cocoa has a more rounded flavor and mixes more easily with liquid, but it is often hard to find in the grocery store. Because success in baking often relies on the amount of acidic ingredients you have versus the amount of base (alkaline) ingredients, substituting natural cocoa for Dutch-processed in a recipe, and vice vera, is not recommended.