Alkalized vs. Natural Cacao: What’s the difference?

By November 18, 2015Uncategorized

I have been Periscoping a lot lately (if you haven’t come over there to join us, come on over!).

I’ve used cacao powder in various recipes and have stressed my preference to using natural cacao powder vs. alkalized or Dutched cacao powder. Dutching, which is really just a fancy word for using chemicals (a potassium carbonate wash to be specific), brings the pH to a neutral (like water), so you can really control the outcome of what you are trying to make.  Natural cacao powder called for in a recipe will make the rest of the ingredients react one way and alkalized will make it react another (this also has a lot to do with weather or not you are using other neutralizing agents like baking powder.) Dutching will also make the powder darker (think OREO cookies) and many manufacturers say they use alkalized because they want to flatten out the flavors (another way of saying they are using low quality cacao beans.)

Bottom line: If you are looking for a specific outcome in a recipe (chewy vs crunchy, etc…) follow the recipe for the specific cacao powder. If that matters less to you, I say go natural. I’ve been in chocolate factories where they are alkalizing powder and it is not a pleasant smell which leads me to ask a lot of questions. I also don’t like chemicals near my food (especially chocolate- which is why NibMor always brings you the highest quality ingredients that use minimal processes.) Among industry insiders, the buzz is that a lot of the beans used in Dutched are not good- meaning they are inferior and easy to manipulate for flavor through the dutch processing. When in doubt- always go natural!