Cocoa powder can be separated into “natural” and “alkalized”, isn’t ‘the natural, the best’ as a matter of course?
Natural cocoa powder:
The natural cocoa powder is made by the cocoa beans which have been baked and grinded. This process can retain the bitterness and the flavour of fruit acids of the cocoa beans. The acid-base level of the natural cocoa powder is at around pH5 to 6, and the colour is relatively light.
Alkalized cocoa powder: In English, we call it “Dutch process”. That is a procedure of processing cocoa beans which is invented by a Holland Chemist called Van Houten. By adding some alkaline ingredients (like Potassium carbonate) in order to neutralize the acidity of cocoa beans, it can make the taste become mild and mellow. The colour will become dark red and change into different darkness depends on the level of alkalization, i.e. Black Oreo is used in high alkalized cocoa powder (and other pigments).
So, how should we choose?
It really depends on your usage and your personal appetite. For example, a cake recipe requiring to use baking soda. Acidity plays essential role to rise up the paste in and make the cake become spongier. In this case, natural cocoa powder will be the best choice for it. On the other hand, some strong mouthfeel, thick and solid desserts like brownies, it will be better to use alkalized cocoa powder as it can baked into a very beautiful colour of dark brown easily.
Fair Trade cocoa powder: The two Fair Trade cocoa powders from Equal Exchange and Okogreen in Hong Kong are alkalized cocoa powder. It will be very tasty no matter making Petit Gâteau or chocolate pudding!