How Do I Select The Best Cocoa Powder? Is There A Difference

Why a cake recipe does calls for cocoa powder, yet not dutch processed cocoa powder? There is no good reason for that, so let’s answer the question, “Which cocoa powder should I use and why?” So let’s talk about “Why is it not a good idea to use Dutch cocoa powder?” It’s because regular natural cocoa powders and Dutch-processed cocoa powders don’t have the same properties. In terms of how one reacts with other ingredients, acidity versus alkalinity matter. This post will discuss how Dark Cocoa Powder works in cake baking. Below are a few basics.


Firstly, let’s clarify what it isn’t. The two are not the same thing. A drink mix is what it is. A grocery store will have unsweetened cocoa powder on the baking aisle. The first time I took a big spoonful out of the pantry, I thought it is the hot cocoa mix. Wow! You cannot eat it on its own despite its strength and unsweetened nature. The end product of cocoa powder is cocoa powder. As a result of removing cocoa butter from the beans, the cocoa nibs get ground up. That increases the chocolate’s concentration.


The flavor of Vanhouten Cocoa Powder is much more concentrated than the taste of melted chocolate per ounce. It is the reason it is so popular with cake bakers. Using cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate will give you a more intense chocolate flavor.

What are the different types of cacao powder?

Most cocoa powders are either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Recipes often call for natural Malaysian Dark Cocoa Powder. Cocoa beans without butter. Dutch Process Cocoa Powder is the result of that process. It alkalizes naturally acidic chocolate. It contains an acid neutralizer, so it is no longer acidic. It mellows and enriches the flavor. It’s entirely up to you which cocoa powder you prefer and what the recipe calls for.


It is best to follow the recipe’s instructions to the letter since the recipe author has already thought of the interactions between the other ingredients and the cocoa powder. Substitution is essential here. Unless other alterations to the recipe happen, it is impossible to substitute Dutch cocoa powder for natural cocoa powder. 

Why does a recipe specify using natural cocoa powder but not Dutch-processed?

OK, let’s get a little scientific: many recipes call for natural cocoa powder and then state that the powder is not Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa powder is acidic, while dutch processed cocoa powder has undergone a process to remove the acids. In this situation, Dutch processed cocoa powder is the best choice since baking soda neutralizes the acid in most cake recipes.

So, if you used Dutch-processed cocoa powder instead, the baking soda would not affect the recipe. Cake recipes call for baking soda when the cake ingredients are acidic. For other cakes, you would use baking powder. If there are no acidic ingredients in the cake batter and you use baking soda, then the cake can taste weird, and sometimes the texture can be off. It’s difficult to predict how the cake will turn out.

Using dutch cocoa powder instead of natural Malaysian Cocoa Powder might require you to substitute baking soda with another leavening agent like baking powder, but that depends upon the rest of the ingredients. If you decide to avoid the baking soda, you may have to add in some baking powder to keep the cake from rising. It’s not a good idea to switch out the baking soda for baking powder in the same amount. Baking soda is more powerful than baking powder, so they are not interchangeable. However, depending on the other ingredients in the cake, you may need to add more.