Cocoa and cocoa powder are not as simple as they may seem. There are numerous varieties and levels of significant ingredients to create the perfect blend of chocolate flavor for cooking and baking with. It is important to understand cocoa and cocoa powder key terms before selecting the appropriate powdered chocolate for your business.
You will likely need more then one cocoa powder or chocolate mix in your kitchen to create a variety of chocolate-infused dishes. Knowing the different varieties and how they have been created will help you to become a better chef or restauranteur and satisfy even more of your customers. Consider the following when you buy cocoa powder:
1. What processes are used to make cocoa powder?
2. What are the differences between milk and dark chocolate cocoa powders?
3. Are the nutritional values different between varieties of powdered cocoa?
Know the terms used to describe varieties of cocoa powder and how it was madeDutch-processed or alkalized cocoa powders have undergone a process that reduces the bitterness in natural unsweetened cocoa powder. Cocoa powder that has been treated with an alkali is better suited for certain recipes to create a more mild flavor, while natural cocoa powder adds a more harsh chocolate flavor. It is important to consider the other ingredients in the dish, as the natural cocoa can create a reaction.
Consider the term "cacao" when choosing your chocolate powderThe percentage of cacao is key to the resin of your cocoa. The higher the percentage of cacao, the darker the chocolate and the less sweet it will be. This is very important when using cocoa in various recipes, as it can quite easily effect the sweetness of the entire dish.
Understand the terms on the nutritional label of your cocoa powderAlthough the fat content of semi-sweet chocolate is lower, if combined with a dairy product or another source of sweetness, the amount of carbohydrates could be higher. This is a common misconception when looking at the definitions of different chocolate varieties. For example, instant hot cocoa consists of not only the cocoa powder itself but also other ingredients to make a complete product.
- Think outside of the box. Cocoa and cocoa powder doesn't have to just be used in desserts and baking. Consider using cocoa powder in a savory dish to create an unusual flavor profile.