Should I use cocoa powder or chocolate in my cake recipes?

Chocolate cake is always a good idea. But does it matter whether you use real chocolate or canned powder that’s kept somewhere in the back of your pantry?

First of all, the powdery stuff that tastes like eating coffee straight from the pot is just as “real” as the delicious stuff you’d happily eat a block of.

Cocoa powder is one of the raw materials used in the manufacture of chocolate. It is made by roasting ground cocoa beans at high temperatures. To make chocolate, you add cocoa powder to cocoa butter, extra fats and sugar. To obtain a smooth and uniform chocolate, other emulsifiers are often added. Milk chocolate will also have milk added as a main ingredient.

“When you add cocoa powder to a cake, you’re essentially adding a gluten-free flavor that has similar baking qualities to cornflour, but it has that lovely flavor,” says Anneka, BakeClub creator and guru of the pastry. Manning.

Anneka loves it because as a raw ingredient, you know exactly what you’re putting in your chocolate cake every time. “Chocolate can vary in cocoa butter and other solids,” she explains. “With cocoa, you get the same product every time.”

Find the recipe here.

Since cocoa is a “raw” chocolate ingredient, it also means that you can better manipulate the flavor of your cake by adding sugar and fat to achieve your desired texture and flavor. More fat will create a denser cake, more sugar will dilute the natural bitterness of cocoa. You can also experiment with using different fats and sugars to create your own unique flavor.

This brings us to Anneka’s preference for her pastry.

“It’s kind of like a brownie,” says Anneka. “Do you like a cakey brownie or a fudgy brownie?

“They both give that delicious chocolate flavor, but they each add something very different to a chocolate cake,” she notes. “I use them both quite often because I want the texture of chocolate, with the more intense flavor you can get by adding extra cocoa to your recipe without the added fat and sugar that comes with adding the chocolate. himself.”

Get the recipe here.

For Kirsten Tibballs, pastry chef and beloved chocolate queen, a cake made with good quality cocoa powder beats chocolate. “By adding cocoa powder, you get a great sugar-free chocolate flavor that you usually already have in a chocolate cake recipe,” she explains.

His advice on what makes “good quality” cocoa? “Use a Dutch cocoa powder with 22% fat,” she advises. “A processed Dutch cocoa is alkaline on the pH scale, which tenderizes the texture of your cake and gives you a nice hint of chocolate flavor.”

Science aside, it really comes down to texture. A recipe using cocoa will generally be a lighter cake with a big crumb. Chocolate will result in a moister cake with a smaller crumb and denser texture. “You don’t want to use chocolate in a sponge, it will weigh down your texture,” cautions Anneka.

“It’s kind of like a brownie,” says Anneka. “Do you like a cakey brownie or a fudgy brownie?

Most of us would say we like both, but for the record, cocoa will give you a cakier brownie and chocolate will give you a chewier result. That’s not to say you won’t get a chocolate cake using only cocoa (Exhibit A: Donna Hay’s chocolate-free, cocoa-based chocolate cake), but when you start your cake-mixing journey Chocolate is a solid place to start.

Find the recipe here.

Anneka has a tip for brownies and another recipe where you want to use chocolate: the mud cake.

“To intensify the flavor, also add a little cocoa powder,” she says.

For the muddiest mud cake, be sure to use good quality dark chocolate (not compound baking chocolate, which is made with vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter) with a high cocoa mass . Then replace about a quarter cup of flour from the recipe with cocoa powder.

All the big, bold, bitter flavor of a cocoa-based cake with the same rich density of a real mud cake. Winning at its peak.

Did someone say chocolate cake?

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