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CanadianBakin'

Will dutch process cocoa ruin my brownies?

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This is a spin-off from the cocoa thread. I'd like to try using dutch process cocoa in my brownies but don't have ready access to small amounts. I think the smallest bag my supplier has is about 5 lbs. My brownies have just cocoa, no solid chocolate and a bit of instant coffee as well as 1/4 tsp of baking soda. A few people mentioned that you should use regular cocoa in recipes that contain baking soda. Is a 1/4 teaspoon enough to mess them them up? How does the dutch process cocoa effect the flavour. I seem to remember reading that the flavour will be richer and the texture a bit fudgier. Can anyone help me with their experiences? Sorry, this is a bit long.

To sum up, my questions are:

1. Will 1/4 tsp baking soda affect my brownies negatively if I use dutch process cocoa?

2. Is it worth trying dutch process cocoa? Is the flavour that much better?

Thanks for your input.


Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

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FoodMan   

I always use Dutch Process for nearly everything. I think, and this is purely a personal taste issue, that it does make a big difference in taste. It is much smoother than regular cocao and you can really feel it if you are using it in large amounts in a recipe. The end product tends to taste more chocolaty to me when using Dutch Process, and I like that.

I say go ahead and use it in your recipe, it should not be a problem.

Elie

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JosephB   

The new Cooks Illustrated has a piece on the difference between Dutch process and natural, and concluded to its suprise that there is no difference in the two cocoas when used for baking. The authors expected that the more alkaline Dutch process could not be substituted for natural cocoa, and visa versa. They found that it made no difference. They also found that Dutch process always tasted better.

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bkeith   
1. Will 1/4 tsp baking soda affect my brownies negatively if I use dutch process cocoa?

2. Is it worth trying dutch process cocoa? Is the flavour that much better?

Thanks for your input.

My guess is that it probably won't make a difference. The only potential gotcha is that if there's no other acidity in the recipe, your baking soda won't have anything to react with. Potential issues: a) wasted baking soda, b) denser brownies, and c) a slight soapy taste. In my mind, a & b are no biggie. And c probably isn't either, given the quantity of soda. But if you're concerned, substitute 1 tsp baking powder for the 1/4 tsp baking soda to get approximately the same effect.

FWIW, Dutch-process cocoa is all I use.

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merstar   
The new Cooks Illustrated has a piece on the difference between Dutch process and natural, and concluded to its suprise that there is no difference in the two cocoas when used for baking.  The authors expected that the more alkaline Dutch process could not be substituted for natural cocoa, and visa versa.  They found that it made no difference.  They also found that Dutch process always tasted better.

I'd like to see that article, and check out exactly what kinds of tests they did, but it doesn't seem to be in the newest issue (Dec). Could it have been in the previous issue?

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merstar   

Well, duh, I saw it at the bookstore today, and stupidly assumed it was the latest issue. I should have realized that it was probably outdated already! Thanks, I'll keep my eye out for the Jan-Feb one.


Edited by merstar (log)

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Another intesting result of the CI taste testing is that the Hershey's cocoa was ranked #2 in both the dutched and natural categories, and in both cases beat out much more expensive cocoas.

For instance, Hershey's dutched beat out Droste, Skokinag and Valrhona, and was ranked second only to Callebaut cocoa (which doesnt surprise me, since I think Callebaut chocolate is awesome). The Hershey's cocoa costs about 40% less than the Callebaut. Among the natural cocoas, Hershey's beat out Ghiradelli and Scharffen Berger, and was second to Mercken's, which is about the same price (~US$6 per LB). This doesn't surprise me either, since I have been relatively disappointed with both Ghiradelli and Scharffen Berger.

EDIT TO ADD: And to reiterate what JospehB pointed out, the dutched was preferred in every one of the taste tests, which included hot cocoa, shortbread, pudding cake, and devil's food cake.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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merstar   
The new Cooks Illustrated has a piece on the difference between Dutch process and natural, and concluded to its suprise that there is no difference in the two cocoas when used for baking.  The authors expected that the more alkaline Dutch process could not be substituted for natural cocoa, and visa versa.  They found that it made no difference.  They also found that Dutch process always tasted better.

Well, I finally saw the CI article and while I don't agree with all their cocoa ratings, they are, of course, a matter of personal taste, not fact, so their opionions are as valid as anyone's. However, I was very surprised and somewhat angry how they irresponsibly made the declaration that there was no difference between Dutched and natural cocoa in baking. After all, they only did ONE test and that was in a Devil's Food Cake. They did not include any of the ingredients in the recipe, ie, the the leaveners. For example, if baking soda was the sole leavener, and Dutched cocoa was used, were there any acidic ingredients in the recipe that would react with the soda, since Dutched does not, etc., etc., etc? They reported their findings at the very end of the article in one small paragraph. I truly think this was sloppily done and obviously not conclusive. They should have done many, many recipes, and compared them side by side to properly analyze the results.

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merstar:

However, I was very surprised and somewhat angry how they irresponsibly made the declaration that there was no difference between Dutched and natural cocoa in baking. After all, they only did ONE test and that was in a Devil's Food Cake. They did not include any of the ingredients in the recipe, ie, the the leaveners.

Actually, in the most recent addition on dutched cocoa, they tested two recipes, one of which specifically called for dutched (the devil's food) and one of which specifically called for natural (pudding cake). In neither case did they note any difference in leavening, and in both cases they judged the dutched as producing a better taste. As you say, they did not include the recipes in the article itself, but I'd assume that they are devil's food and pudding cakes from past issues of CI. From the article:

The only case remaining for choosing natural cocoa concerned leavening. Getting a baked good to rise properly depends on a delicate balance of acids and bases. Conventional wisdom thus dictates that Dutched cocoa and natural cocoa cannot be used interchangeably. Many cookbooks include cautionary notes about the dangers of substitution.

With these caveats in mind, we chose two recipes (for devil's food cake and hot pudding cake) that call for a particular type of cocoa-one Dutched, one natural. To our surprise, we noticed no difference in leavening among the four samples in either of these applications. And, across the board, the two Dutched cocoas beat out the two natural cocoas in terms of both flavor and texture. So does the home cook need both Dutched and natural cocoas? Not based on our findings.

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It would be very easy to refute CI by doing you own experiment demonstrating a difference in leavening depending on cocoa type using some other recipe. This would refute the null hypothesis, which in this case is the hypothesis that there no difference between natural and dutched cocoa with respect to leavening. All CI is saying is that their tests, such as they are, fail to rule out the null hypothesis. I don't think that is so 'irresponsible.' If you are indeed angry,

maybe you can suggest to CI a better recipe, one which will definitively prove the need for one type of cocoa for proper leavening?


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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merstar   
merstar:

However, I was very surprised and somewhat angry how they irresponsibly made the declaration that there was no difference between Dutched and natural cocoa in baking. After all, they only did ONE test and that was in a Devil's Food Cake. They did not include any of the ingredients in the recipe, ie, the the leaveners.

Actually, in the most recent addition on dutched cocoa, they tested two recipes, one of which specifically called for dutched (the devil's food) and one of which specifically called for natural (pudding cake). In neither case did they note any difference in leavening, and in both cases they judged the dutched as producing a better taste. As you say, they did not include the recipes in the article itself, but I'd assume that they are devil's food and pudding cakes from past issues of CI. From the article:

The only case remaining for choosing natural cocoa concerned leavening. Getting a baked good to rise properly depends on a delicate balance of acids and bases. Conventional wisdom thus dictates that Dutched cocoa and natural cocoa cannot be used interchangeably. Many cookbooks include cautionary notes about the dangers of substitution.

With these caveats in mind, we chose two recipes (for devil's food cake and hot pudding cake) that call for a particular type of cocoa-one Dutched, one natural. To our surprise, we noticed no difference in leavening among the four samples in either of these applications. And, across the board, the two Dutched cocoas beat out the two natural cocoas in terms of both flavor and texture. So does the home cook need both Dutched and natural cocoas? Not based on our findings.

Allow me to be corrected, as I read the article in the bookstore, and didn't take the mag home with me, so I didn't realize they had done two different recipes. However, I still don't think only two recipes justify their conclusion that there's no difference between Dutched and natural in baking. Athough, they do cover themselves by saying "...not based on our findings," I think many people will take it as the gospel truth in all cases. Perhaps they're right, perhaps they're wrong, (more likely they're right in certain cases and wrong in others), but I just find it strange that they based it on only two tests with no analyses of the other variables involved.


Edited by merstar (log)

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I always use Dutch Process for nearly everything. I think, and this is purely a personal taste issue, that it does make a big difference in taste. It is much smoother than regular cocao and you can really feel it if you are using it in large amounts in a recipe. The end product tends to taste more chocolaty to me when using Dutch Process, and I like that.

I say go ahead and use it in your recipe, it should not be a problem.

Elie

I am no expert, but I agree. I made a recipe for a chocolate cake that had baking soda, baking powder and coffee in it. I accidentally used regular cocoa the first time I made it. I thought I did something wrong. It did not taste good (to me). It lacked flavor. I made the same exact recipe using Dutch-processed (the same brand). And boy, did it make a huge difference. The taste was much better and somewhat stronger.

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