Difference between processed cocoa and natural cocoa:
The only thing that differentiates these two types of cocoa and that can change the results of your recipe is the acidity. Natural cocoa is acidic, in addition to being lighter – a little brown – and is most common in supermarket aisles. The dutch cocoa, the processed, is much darker because it is washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes the acid present in it.
Dutch cacao is used in cooking mainly in “partnership” with baking powder, because it takes care of the acidic component of the preparation that goes into the oven. (Click here to see how baking powder and baking powder work).
Natural cocoa powder does not have its acid removed from the composition. Well… that’s also why it’s called natural cocoa! And its lighter color is due to the acids being intact. Natural cocoa combines well with sodium bicarbonate because the metallic taste it releases during the oven (more information that you will find in the post quoted above) combines with the cocoa acid. Here in Brazil, you can find this product as “Padre’s chocolate powder”, you know?
So, to sum up. Dutch cocoa has no acid; natural cocoa has. Dutch cocoa’s best friend is chemical yeast; the comrade of natural cocoa is bicarbonate. Dutch cocoa has a very dark color; natural cocoa is very clear.
When can you tell which ‘cocoa’ the recipe calls for?
It is very difficult, since this information about cocoa is not very widespread – at least here, in Brazil. The tip is to go for the “feeling”, really. For example: if the recipe calls for a larger amount of baking powder, better bet on dutch cocoa. On the other hand, if the most requested ingredient is powdered bicarbonate, choose natural cocoa.
And can you replace one with the other?
When we talk about chemistry, which is what happens in the kitchen all the time, it is better to be careful. Small changes can reflect the taste and texture of the food. It is possible to add natural cocoa if you do not have dutch cocoa in some recipes, but it is better not to do the reverse, since the preparation would lose the necessary acids.
Red Velvet Cake
This is the cake that has caused an auê in cooking programs, pastry shops and wherever a person in love with cakes is. The color of the dough is the star of the preparation and, when ready, it looks like red velvet, as the name says. What almost nobody knows (I learned this in research to write this post haha) is that Red velvet has this name because of the color that the cake gets when the acidic ingredients (buttermilk and vinegar) come into contact with the cocoa pigment, anthocyanin – an antioxidant also found in pomegranate and red cabbage. Look at the chemistry again! This reaction makes the cake dough red. Is not it beautiful?
To accentuate this color, people started adding dyes, both artificial and natural. In the case of the former, they can be liquid, gel or powder, and there the chemical reaction of acids is not necessary. Even so, the use of buttermilk or vinegar continued in the recipe more by tradition. For a healthier cake, it is common to prepare Red velvet with beet juice. In fact, it was during the Second World War that the use of the vegetable was increased, due to difficulties in obtaining the artificial dye. Unlike cocoa anthocyanin, beets have betalain. Both are natural red pigments, but confectioners who use beet to make red velvet have some problems due to the variation in pigmentation, which usually occurs because of the amount of water in each beet. There, the incorporation of the acidic element, such as lemon juice, buttermilk and / or vinegar, helps to maintain the red color of the cake.
For the reaction to work better, the ideal is to use cocoa powder (always and only 100%) natural. In the new recipe that Dani made, it took a while to reach the perfect result, but it worked (imagine if it wouldn’t work, right: P)! She told me that with natural cocoa the muffin was much tastier.
Do you like red velvet? Click here to check the recipe for this incredible cupcake.