Saturday Share: Chocolate Substitutions

Let's talk chocolate. Specifically, chocolate used in baking.

Consumers are often confused about the many different names for chocolate products.

Let's take away the confusion and give some substitutions for the most common chocolates called for in recipes.

Cocoa Vs. Cacao

Cacao is raw cacao beans that have been ground. It's the unprocessed version of cocoa. It's sometimes packaged as vegan chocolate. The taste of raw cacao can take some getting used to due to its bitter taste.

Cocoa is cacao beans that have been roasted. So product labeled cacao is the raw bean and a product labeled cocoa is the roasted and ground bean.

In marketing, the names cacao and cocoa are used to mean the same product because cacao is Spanish and cocoa is English. 

That's why you now see Hershey's Cocoa Powder labeled Hershey's Cacao Powder.

This rebranding happened a few years ago to make the product appeal internationallly. So, unless the product specifies the ingredients as cacao, the product is probably cocoa.

Chocolate Vs. Dutch Chocolate Vs. German Chocolate

Hershey's unsweetened Cocoa Powder is 100% pure cocoa meaning it has not been treated with alkali.

Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa has been treated with alkali which is a process called Dutched-processed so it can be called Dutch Chocolate.

If you see anything labeled, Dutch Chocolate, that means it's been treated with an alkali to reduce bitterness and/or make it appear darker.

German Chocolate has nothing to do with Germany. It was created by Sam German in the 1850s in the United States. It's most similar to semi-sweet chocolate, but it's sweeter due to the added sugar that enhances the sweetness of baked items using it.

Of all of the above, I always keep a can of Hershey's Cocoa/Cacao Powder in my pantry all the time because:

(1) it's 100% cocoa which means it's the natural kind of dark choclate good for your health, rather than Dutched chocolate that uses alkali

(2) I use a rounded teaspoon of the powder to add to a packet of instant cocoa mix

(3) nothing makes chocolate frosting better than Hershey's Cocoa Power

(4) it's easy to use the cocoa powder to "make" the other chocolate products used in cooking and baking.

Substitutions for Chocolate

If you never have unsweetened baking chocolate on hand, you need to print this post so you'll know how easy it is to use cocoa powder for those recipes.

Substitutions for 1 ounce Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

(1) 3 tablespoons Hershey's Cocoa Powder + 1 tablespoon of butter. (You can also use 1 tablespoon or vegetable oil or 1 tablespoon shortening but those are not healthy ingredients.)  Melt the butter in a small bowl or glass measuring cup in the microwave. Stir in the cocoa powder until well blended.

If you like the taste of Dutch-processed cocoa powder, you can use it instead of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder.

(2) 1 ounce of Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate. This adds the sweetness already in this kind of chocolate. To make up for the sugar in the chocolate, reduce the amount of sugar by 1 tablespoon for each ounce of this chocolate used in your recipe.

(3) 3 tablespoons of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips for each 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate. This too adds extra sugar, so reduce the sugar in your recipe by 1 tablespoon of sugar for each ounce. 

The chocolate chips take longer to melt because they're made to hold their shape so microwave a little at a time so they'll melt but not break or crystalize.

Substitututions for Cocoa Powder

(1) 1 ounce baking chocolate square = 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Melt sweetened or unsweetened baking chocolate and add it to the wet ingredients. Squares of baking chocolate have more fat so you may need to reduce the fat in your recipe by 1 to 3 teaspoons less.

(2) 1 ounce of chocolate chips (unsweetened, semi-sweet, or sweet) = 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. In this case, if you use sweetened chips, you must reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by 1 tablespoon or more since chips are usually sweeter than the baking squares. You may have to experiment to see how much sugar to remove from the recipe.

(3) 3 tablespoons of Dutch Chocolate plus 1/8 teaspoon of an acid like cream of tartar, lemon juice, or white vinegar = 3 tablespoons of regular cocoa powder.

(4) If all you have is Instant Cocoa mix or Nequik, use it in a 1:1 ratio but reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe. Instant mixes contain many ingredients with some of them undesirable, but if you want some kind of baked chocolate goodie then experiment. 

Takeaway Truth

Pure cocoa has many health benefits. Make something today like my recipe for Chocolate Cake in a Cup which takes less than 10 minutes to mix it up and bake it. Have a wonderful weekend!

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