If you love baking cakes, you may wish to try using black cocoa powder to give your chocolate creations a sophisticated twist. The pandemic witnessed a massive resurgence in home cooking as we stocked up our cupboards in case of shortages resulting in baking necessities such as flour becoming a rare commodity. Consequently, many households across America baked cakes to help alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with the emergency.
Chocolate cakes possess a soft spot in my heart because they remained my favorite as a child, and my grandmother used to make a variety of different chocolate cakes, which always delighted me. I still remember the rich, indulgent smell of chocolate wafting from the kitchen on a Sunday morning as she cooked like a demon, and if I close my eyes, the memory of their taste tickles my tongue. If she’d known about this magical ingredient, I know in my heart that some dazzling cake creations would await my appreciative tastebuds.
What Is Black Cocoa Powder?
Black cocoa powder derives from an alkalized form of cocoa powder that proves less acidic. As the name suggests, it’s virtually black and offers an intense, rich chocolate experience when using it in baking.
The velvety black powder of indulgence tastes different from regular cocoa powder. It retains a deep, intense chocolate flavor, but the Dutch processing prevents it from tasting bitter. Some dark chocolate tastes so bitter it makes your lips curl, and that may be a disaster in a cake. However, black cocoa powder eliminates the bitterness and intensifies the chocolate.
It sounds like a win, win situation for me!
Dutch by any other name
You may see the cocoa powder termed Dutch-processed or alkalized cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is a highly processed form of cocoa powder treated to reduce alkalinity. It produces a smooth and intensely dark ingredient.
Regular cocoa powder doesn’t go through the process, and it looks considerably lighter than the black variety.
Why Use Black Cocoa Powder?
If you desire a dramatic-looking cake, adding the ingredient to the mixture results in a deep intense color that almost doesn’t look real. Furthermore, the taste feels smoother on the tongue with a decadent velvety texture.
If you want dark frosting around your cake, using food colorings may affect the texture and taste of the finished result. It proves almost impossible to make black frosting because the food coloring isn’t intense enough, and you end up with a dark grey mass. Furthermore, too much food coloring may cause the frosting to separate.
If you add this variety of chocolate powder to your frosting mix, it achieves an intense black color suitable for piping and decorating cakes.
A helping hand
However, the variety of powder doesn’t react the same with baking powder as a regular cocoa powder because of the reduced alkalinity. The standard cocoa powder remains acidic by nature and reacts with baking powder when it gets wet. Consequently, the cake rises.
When baking with the gothic-looking ingredient, you must compensate for the lack of rising reaction. You may need to add up to two teaspoons of baking powder to the mix to adjust for the Dutch processing. If your recipe contains more than 3/4 cup of black cocoa powder, you must add at least 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the mix, or you may end up with a black pancake!
Know Your Chocolate
For baking, two types of cocoa powder remain the most vital to home cooks, including natural cocoa powder and Dutch-processed cocoa powder, a.k.a. black cocoa powder. However, both types of ingredients go through slightly different processes before they reach our shelves.
Natural cocoa powder
Cocoa powder derives from the grinding of cocoa beans to extract the oils, and the process forms a paste. Next, the clever chocolate wizards remove the cocoa butter from the paste to create a dried powder that retains a long shelf life. However, this natural form of cocoa powder is inherently acidic by nature.
Black cocoa powder
Dutch-processed cocoa powder takes the steps further by using an alkali solution to treat the powder to lower its acidity. The chocolate wizards call it ‘Dutching.’ When the wizards perform a further stage of ‘Dutching,’ called ultra-Dutching, it results in a black powder that offers a smoother, more intense chocolate experience.
Cooking with Black Cocoa Powder
Suppose you love baking and want to use black cocoa powder. In that case, you can’t substitute it for regular cocoa powder in a given recipe because the two different types of chocolate act differently. Many professional chefs liken baking to chemistry because it’s the accurate measurements and correct ingredients that result in the perfect cake. If one ingredient proves wrong or out of balance, then the cake may fail.
It’s all about the recipe
Cake mixtures that use natural cocoa powder require baking soda usually. The acidic chocolate powder reacts with the baking soda when wet to help the cake rise successfully.
If you use a recipe that uses black cocoa powder, or Dutch-processed cocoa powder, you need to use baking powder. However, the mix now has both alkali and acidic ingredients, and the resultant chemical imbalance may result in a cake-making disaster.
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The exception to the rule
If you use recipes that don’t need cooking, such as chocolate frostings, mouses, and hot chocolate, you don’t need to use leavening ingredients such as baking powder. Consequently, the success rate may be higher, and the results may taste sublime.
A rule of thumb
It remains vital to remember that you can’t swap natural cocoa powder for black, Dutch-processed powder because the cake won’t rise the same. If your recipe calls for natural cocoa powder, stick to the recipe if the recipe uses baking powder.
Perhaps your recipe doesn’t use baking powder, you can swap the chocolate element for black cocoa powder for a deep, velvety, superior tasting chocolate cake.
If you want to use an existing recipe but want to swap out the natural chocolate powder for the black variety, try using a half and half mixture of the two types of chocolate powder. The natural cocoa performs the desired reaction with the baking powder, while the black cocoa powder gives the cake a deeper flavor and sumptuous, decadent color.
An important point
The black cocoa powder remains virtually fat-free. While this may sound like excellent news for all chocolate lovers out there, it may be disastrous for cakes! Cake making requires a certain amount of fat content, or the result may feel and taste like a dry brick.
Using a mixture of natural cocoa with black cocoa powder gives the mixture a moisture boost. And most recipes using the ultra-Dutch processed chocolate powder require a higher butter or oil content than most cake recipes, and it is this fat content that gives the sponge a lovely moist texture.
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As a keen baker, I make many cakes, from big, bold monsters to delicate cupcakes. I remain a terrible chocolate fiend. However, I have yet to master the art of making proper chocolate frosting.
When you use natural chocolate powder in frosting, the chocolate taste dilutes. And if you add too much chocolate powder in an attempt to intensify the chocolate taste, the buttercream either separates or turns too dry to work.
Black cocoa powder may revolutionize your buttercream toppings because the intense, extra chocolatey powder adds a real chocolate zing to the topping. Dutch-processed and ultra-Dutch processed chocolate powder remains incredibly concentrated, but you attain a smoother, less acidic hit of that fabulous chocolate flavor. So, adding the black magic to your buttercream results in a rich topping with a heavenly mouthful of tasty chocolate with each mouthful.
A chocolate warning
If you add black cocoa powder to your frostings, it turns the mixture black. It turns your frosting into an intense black mixture that looks like it belongs in a horror film. However, the dramatic effect looks stunning and tastes even better than it looks, and the frosting attains a glorious sheen because of the black cocoa powder that you cannot beat.
The chocolate powder may stain everything it comes into contact with. The powder is potent stuff, so you must take care when using it. However, the color stabilizes when you cook with it, so it won’t stain your mouth when you devour your delicious cakes.
Where to Buy Black Cocoa Powder near Me
However, many areas contain specialist bakery stores where you may purchase cake tins, equipment, and in many cases, ingredients. It is worth checking with your local bakery stores and markets when searching for black cocoa powder.
Can I Get Black Cocoa Powder Online?
Most of us find ourselves shopping online right now because of the pandemic. Furthermore, it offers a safe and convenient way to purchase. Consequently, you may buy black cocoa powder online.
Amazon sells black cocoa powder products for home delivery, including Green & Blacks Organic Black Cocoa Powder. If you don’t want such an intense black color, Amazon sells OliveNation Fat Dutched Cocoa Powder which possesses many of the same virtues as black cocoa powder. Also, the Weirdo Good Black Velvet Cacoa Powder proves ideal for making spectacular cakes.
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I use eBay a lot for cooking products, and you may discover a wealth of culinary products to delight your tastebuds. When using eBay, you may find Black Dutch Cocoa Powder. If you need to stock up on the delicious ingredient, they also sell Bulk Black Cocoa Powder to fill your pantry!
If you love baking, you may find numerous ideas for putting your black cocoa powder to good use. However, I love to hold themed parties, especially around Halloween. A cake stand filled with black cupcakes may look amazing when your guests come around or as an offering to the little monsters trick or treating.
A large black cake on a cake stand may impress your guests at any time of the year. It makes a fantastic celebration cake, and the rich, velvety flavor and texture may earn you a round of applause!
Once you bake the cakes, you may wish to decorate them with frosting! I love to pipe buttercream roses on my cakes, and using black buttercream produces a fantastic effect! If you sprinkle your black frosting with edible glitter, you may end up with a magical cake suitable for any audience.
If you feel particularly decadent, you may want to try baking black cookies with marshmallows. Personally, I think these cookies are too good to feed to children, so hide them from the young ones and enjoy them when you spend a quiet moment to yourself.
Black Cocoa Powder Explored
Baking remains an art form that intrigues and frustrates me. Sometimes my results prove spectacular, and sometimes they end up in the bin. However, when baking, it remains vital to accurately follow the ingredients and measurements to achieve the best results. Baking is culinary chemistry, and to gain the correct reactions, you must use the proper ingredients.
Chocolate desserts and cakes remain my favorite things to make and eat. While I may never achieve the chocolate cake perfections of my grandmother, I continue to strive for chocolate heaven. Black cocoa powder may represent a secret weapon to add to my cooking arsenal.
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The powder contains no fat, and the ultra-Dutch processing removes the acidity, resulting in a smooth-tasting chocolate hit that fills your mouth with pleasure. The color is intense, and while you must follow specific recipes when using the black magic, the results look and taste amazing.
Some users report how they feel it doesn’t taste as chocolatey as regular cocoa powder. However, my experiences using the ingredient resulted in cakes that tasted intensely of chocolate with a gorgeous texture. Plus, my cakes looked amazing. Once you understand the correct balance of butter, oil, baking powder, and a half and half mixture of black to natural, you can’t go wrong.
Do you have experience using this ingredient? Perhaps you have a favorite recipe to share with us. Why not comment in the space below and share your chocolatey wisdom with us.