What is cocoa powder?
Cocoa powder is a dry solid residue of fermented, dried and roasted cocoa beans. The beans are cut into granules, ground, and then ground into a paste made of cocoa solids, suspended in almost odorless cocoa butter.
Once we extract the butter, we leave a fragile solid (fiber) and grind it into a fine powder. This means that cocoa powder is the basis of chocolate taste without any extra fat, sugar or milk.
Until the middle of the 19th century, there was only one cocoa powder.
Natural cocoa powder
If you are making natural cocoa powder, that is what you need to do.
Chocolate is naturally acidic, so natural cocoa powder typically has a pH of 5-6. The acidity has a natural cocoa taste which gives the cocoa a sharp, almost citrus fruity taste.
Then, a Dutch chocolate manufacturer called Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered a way to machine the nib to reduce the sour taste of cocoa.
He washed the nib with an alkaline solution. This reduces the acidity of the cocoa powder, increases its solubility, darkens the color and gives it a smoother flavor. This process is now known as the "Dutch Process" or "Dutching".
I am often asked if you can replace natural cocoa with Dutched cocoa and vice versa?
Depending on what you are making, the acidity of the natural cocoa powder does not change, so it is usually paired with sodium bicarbonate (alkaline) in the diet.
The Dutch process cocoa is not acidic and is often used in formula fermented powders. It does not react with sodium bicarbonate to form carbon dioxide like alkaline sodium bicarbonate, just like natural cocoa.
This is why the formulation using the Dutch process cocoa is usually improved by baking powder with a neutral pH.
For sauces, egg tarts, ice cream, pudding, it comes down to personal taste.
Dutch process cocoa has a
The more intense "chocolate" taste and natural cocoa are a lighter color that tastes a bit awkward.