origins of cocoa
Though people have been enjoying chocolate for at least 1,500 years, cocoa powder as we know it has only been around since the early 1800s. That’s when father-and-son Dutch chocolate makers Casparus and C.J. van Houten developed a process for separating cocoa butter (the source of chocolate’s smooth texture) from cocoa powder (the key to its rich flavor and deep color).
C.J. van Houten also developed a way to neutralize cocoa’s naturally high acidity, by bathing cocoa (cacao) beans in an alkaline solution. The resulting cocoa, which today is called Dutch-process or European-style cocoa, is milder-flavored, darker, and more chocolate-brown in color than lighter-colored, red-hued natural cocoa.
dutch process or natural cocoa?
Many kinds of cocoa powder, varying in color, acidity, and fat content, are available to home bakers. However, the two main choices remain natural, and Dutch-process. How do you know which to use?
Use the type of cocoa called for in the recipe. If the recipe doesn’t specify a particular cocoa, here are some rules of thumb:
Two of our favorite specialty cocoas are our King Arthur All-Purpose Cocoa and Midnight Black.
If you only have room for one cocoa in your pantry, make it our King Arthur All-Purpose Cocoa. With the classic chocolate flavor of natural; the rich body of Dutch-process, and the deep-dark color of black cocoa, this cocoa works beautifully in all of your recipes.
Midnight Black is a super-dark, heavily Dutched cocoa with extra-strong flavor. Used alone, it makes baked goods that are nearly black in color: think chocolate sandwich cookies. Used in conjunction with a milder Dutch-process cocoa, it adds rich color and deep flavor.
Now you can enjoy the classic chocolate flavor of natural cocoa; the rich body of Dutch-process cocoa; and the deep-dark color of black cocoa – all in the same ingredient.
King Arthur's exclusive cocoa blend works perfectly in your grandmother's chocolate cake recipe calling for natural cocoa, and equally well for the brownie recipe (calling for Dutch-process cocoa) you just discovered in a blog.
If you only have room for one cocoa in your pantry, this is it.