If you’ve been baking for a while now you probably already know there are at least two types of cocoa powder, Natural and ‘Dutched’, but there’s actually a third type that’s taking the cake world by storm and that is Black Cocoa Powder.
Black Cocoa Powder is a sort of ‘Super-Dutched’ cocoa and it’s the secret ingredient in all those blackout style cakes, cookies, and buttercream. Finally you can achieve an ultra-dark black colour without using artificial colours! See the comparison between Natural, Dutch, and Black Cocoa Powder from BakedNYC below.
You can thank a guy called Coenraad J. van Houten for Dutch Cocoa. Back in 1828 he developed an affordable way to extract cocoa butter from cocoa beans and then treated the cocoa powder with a potassium or sodium carbonate solution.
This process does a couple of things to the cocoa powder. Firstly, it neutralises the acid making the cocoa powder ‘alkalised’, making the cocoa powder taste more earthy, more chocolatey, and less acidic.
It also darkens the natural pigments in the cacao beans, called anthocyanins, which are lighter in an acidic environment and darker in an alkaline one. So the more alkalised the cocoa powder the darker it is, this is why Black Cocoa Powder is sometimes referred to as super-dutched, it’s spent more time soaking in that potassium/sodium carbonate solution and has become more alkalised.
Another effect of alkalization is that the resulting cocoa powder may be slightly more soluble.
Well you can’t just swap it out directly for Natural Cocoa Powder. In fact you shouldn’t even do this with standard Dutch Cocoa Powder. Here are a few helpful tips to remember when baking with cocoa powder: