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"What is 'Dutched cocoa' and how does it differ from other cocoas?"

Dear Anne and Sue,

What is 'Dutched cocoa' and how does it differ from other cocoas?

— Doug


Still have more questions? You'll find more answers in our archived monthly feature articles by the Inquisitive Cooks.

(Meet the Inquisitive Cooks)

Cocoa is a pure unsweetened powder made by extracting much of the cocoa butter from the chocolate mass. This leaves a dry solid cake, which is then sifted to a fine powder.

There are two major types of cocoa powders. Some beans are treated with alkaline solution to make them darker in color, and milder in flavor. This type of cocoa is called 'Dutched' or 'Dutch-style' and this designation will usually appear on the cocoa label. No preservatives are added. Fry's Cocoa is an example of Dutch processed cocoa.

In contrast, a non alkalized cocoa, such as Hershey's, is also unsweetened, but because it has not been Dutch processed, it still contains cocoa's natural acids. Non alkalized, or natural cocoa tends to be lighter in color but less mellow in flavor.

For cooks it's important to know that the alkalizing process, causes the pH of Dutched cocoa to rise from 5.5 (acidic) to 7 (neutral) or 8 (slightly alkaline). Thus, the change in acidity may result in differences in leavening reactions in some recipes for baking when using Dutch processed cocoa.

For instance, if baking soda is the only leavening agent in your fabulous Brownie recipe, make sure there's an acidic ingredient in your recipe if you're using a Dutched cocoa. Remember that baking soda always needs an acidic partner in order to make baking rise. Or choose a recipe that uses baking powder as the leavening agent.



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