The Difference Between Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder and Natural Cocoa Powder

Ever wonder what the difference is between Dutch-processed cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder? Learn the differences in this post for better baking results.

natural and dutch processed cocoa powder

When I first started baking, I thought all cocoa powders were the same and that they differed mainly in price and country of origin. When I discovered the difference, though, I realized how wrong I was!

Natural cocoa powder vs. Dutch-processed cocoa powder 

Natural cocoa powder refers to cacao beans that have been roasted and then finely ground into a powder. It has a light brown color and it’s quite bitter and acidic.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali solution to neutralize the acidity. This process creates a darker color and it results in a wonderful, smooth flavor. That’s one of the reasons why I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder when I make my easy vegan chocolate truffles or garnish desserts, because it’s not as bitter as natural cocoa powder.

Why is it called Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

In the 19th century, a Dutch man named Coenraad Van Houten developed a process to remove the bitterness in cocoa solids and make it easier to mix with water. Today, this process is called “Dutching” and it produces a darker cocoa powder with a mild taste (hence the term “Dutch-processed”). By the end of the 19th century, Van Houten was synonymous with high quality cocoa powder. It’s actually my favorite Dutch-processed cocoa powder. 

Can both be used interchangeably?

It depends. Most recipes use natural cocoa powder unless they specify Dutch-processed.  

According to Fine Cooking recipes using natural cocoa powder often include baking soda as well. Both the baking soda and acid react and allow baked goods to rise. Baking soda is also an alkaline, so it also neutralizes the acidity in natural cocoa powder. 

On the other hand, Dutch-processed cocoa powder is usually combined with baking powder as it’s already neutral.

So, depending on what you have, you’ll be using either baking soda or baking powder. If a recipe doesn’t have any baking powder or baking soda, you can either natural cocoa powder or Dutch-processed.

Also, since natural cocoa powder is more acidic, baked goods are somewhat drier.  Dutch-processed cocoa, on the other hand, is less acidic, resulting in a fudgier product. For an excellent scientific explanation, Cooks Illustrated has a great article.  

What if you don’t know which cocoa powder a recipe is referring to?

What I usually do is look at whether the recipe has baking soda or baking powder and then I use the cocoa powder that pairs best with either one.  

So, in a nutshell:

Natural Cocoa Powder + Baking Soda

Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder + Baking Powder

If a recipe doesn’t have any baking powder or baking soda, I use whatever cocoa powder I have on hand.

But…sometimes I use BOTH baking powder and baking soda together! Why?

For my Sugar Free Whole Wheat Chocolate Cupcakes, I use buttermilk, because I love the tang. However, buttermilk is acidic and if I ONLY used baking soda, it would neutralize all the acidity and I wouldn’t get the tanginess I love. So, I keep the baking soda, which reacts with the acid to help it rise, and I add the baking powder to retain the tanginess from the buttermilk, killing two birds with one stone! 😉

 “Blooming” cocoa powder 

I absolutely love this technique! Blooming cocoa powder refers to mixing unsweetened cocoa powder with a hot liquid (like boiling water, hot coffee, or hot oil) and allowing it to sit for a few minutes. The cocoa powder dissolves, intensifying the chocolate flavor. If you’re a chocolate lover, this will definitely enhance your chocolate desserts! 

If you want to learn how I use this technique, check out these recipes: 

Sugar Free Whole Wheat Chocolate Cupcakes  

Easy Vegan Fudge Brownies 

~Voula

Here are a few more how-tos and tips:

How to Measure Flour: A Step-by-step Guide

How To Freeze Cookie Dough

How to Make Flavored Sugar 

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HOW TO MAKE FLAVORED SUGAR – (4 Flavors)

Get gourmet and fancy at home with this easy flavored sugar recipe! I’ll show you 4 different flavors and a variety of ways to use them, too! 

cinnamon sugar

Over the years, I’ve discovered different ways to experiment with different flavors. Making flavored sugar has definitely made my baking more interesting and amazingly versatile!

What is flavored sugar?

Flavored sugar is blending a particular flavor, like a spice, an herb, or zest with sugar. Sometimes it involves infusing the flavors for a period of time before using.

There are many different flavor combinations, but in this post, I’m going to show you how to make 4 flavors that I use all the time, as well as a few other flavor options you can try.

How do you make flavored sugar?

There are basically 2 ways to make flavored sugar: mixing and infusing.  King Arthur Flour has a really interesting article and goes into more detail regarding this.

4 DIFFERENT FLAVORS

These are the flavors I use all the time. You can play around with them by adding more or less according to your preference.

Vanilla Sugar

flavord sugar

This is my absolute favorite flavor! I always use ground vanilla bean powder! It’s amazing! Just look at those tiny black specks!

If you want, you could scrape the seeds from the inside of a vanilla bean, instead, which would give a more intense flavor, but I think ground vanilla bean powder is much easier and quicker to use! If you use the seeds from a vanilla bean, allow the flavors to infuse for a few days before using.

Cinnamon Sugar

This is so easy to make. All you do is mix the cinnamon in the sugar and then put it in a jar. In the picture above you can see there’s quite a lot of cinnamon. This is the proportion of cinnamon to sugar I like, but feel free to use more or less cinnamon.

Lemon & Orange Sugar

There are 2 ways to make this.

One way is to rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. You could use a zester or microplane grater to zest the fruit.

The other way is to use a food processor, which is the quickest and easiest method.

No matter which method you use, you’ll notice that it’s incredibly fragrant!

lemon sugar

HOW TO MAKE LEMON & ORANGE SUGAR IN 3 EASY STEPS

STEP 1

Peel the fruit and remove the zest. Discard the pith (the white part), otherwise it will leave a bitter aftertaste. Transfer it to a food processor together with the sugar. Pulse it for a few minutes until the zest is finely ground. It should be a light, pale yellow/orange and very moist.

STEP 2

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, making sure there’s overlapping paper on each side of the pan. This will make it easier to use as handles to lift it off the pan.

STEP 3

Evenly spread the mixture on the parchment paper and let it dry at room temperature (about 1 hour). Break up any clumps with your fingers. Lift the parchment paper and pour the citrus sugar  in an airtight container.

I usually use it immediately, otherwise I store it in the refrigerator. For best results, use it within 2 weeks.

Other flavor combination ideas

Here are a few more flavor options you may want to try:

  • Add a few drops of your favorite extract.
  • Add some unsweetened shredded coconut.
  • Add some dried mint or basil.

How do you use flavored sugar?

There are so many ways to enjoy flavored sugar! Here are a few suggestions:

orange sugar

Enjoy!

~Voula

HOW TO MAKE FLAVORED SUGAR – (4 Flavors)

Get gourmet and fancy at home with this easy flavored sugar recipe! I'll show you 4 different flavors and a variety of ways to use them, too! 
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cinnamon sugar, citrus sugar, flavored sugar, lemon sugar, orange sugar, vanilla sugar

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean powder
  • 1 cup sugar

For the Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar

For the Lemon/Orange Sugar

  • 1 orange/lemon peel with pith (white membrane) removed
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

Make the Vanilla Sugar

  • Mix the ground vanilla powder together with the sugar and store in an airtight container (preferably glass).

Make the Cinnamon Sugar

  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and store in an airtight container (preferably glass).

Make the Lemon/Orange Sugar

  • Peel the fruit and remove the zest. Discard the pith (the white part). Transfer it to a food processor together with the sugar.
  • Pulse it for a few minutes until the zest is finely ground. It should be a light, pale yellow/orange and very moist.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper, making sure there’s overlapping paper on each side of the pan. This will make it easier to use as handles to lift it off the pan.
  • Evenly spread the mixture on the parchment paper and let it dry at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  • Break up any clumps by rubbing them between your fingers.
  • Lift the parchment paper and pour the citrus sugar in an airtight container (preferably glass).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

If you don't have a food processor, you could use a zester or microplane grater to zest the fruit. Then, rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers.
For best results, use the citrus sugar immediately, otherwise store it in the refrigerator and use it within 2 weeks.
©Pastry Wishes

 

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HOW TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH

If you love baking cookies, freezing cookie dough is very useful and practical. It’s a great way to have freshly baked cookies any time you want!

HOW TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH

Do you enjoy baking cookies? I sure do! But sometimes, I don’t have time to bake, and I’m dying for just 1 or 2 cookies instead of a dozen.

That’s when my frozen cookie dough comes to the rescue! Whenever I get that craving, I just pop a few frozen cookie dough balls on a tray and bake them!

I always have cookie dough in the freezer! It’s just so convenient, especially now when we’re quarantined because of coronavirus!

Why freeze cookie dough:

  • You can make a small batch and bake a few cookies at a time, instead of a whole tray.
  • You can prep for an upcoming event, like a birthday, family function, or bake sale well in advance.
  • You have a stash for whenever unexpected guests show up (or when a crazy cookie craving kicks in).
  • You can easily host a last-minute get-together.
  • You could make a delicious homemade gift for a friend.

What you’ll need to freeze cookie dough

Apart from your dough, of course, you don’t need any fancy equipment, just a few basic kitchen tools.

  • Some wax paper or parchment paper.
  • A cookie scoop or a spoon.
  • A baking tray.
  • Freezer bags or containers.

HOW TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH BALLS

Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to make small balls of dough and then put them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. After about an hour, take the tray out of the freezer, put the frozen dough balls in a freezer bag or other container, label it and freeze.

HOW TO FREEZE CUTOUT COOKIE DOUGH & SLICED COOKIE DOUGH

  • Shape the cookie dough into a disk about an inch or two thick (for cutouts) or a log (for sliced cookies).
  • Wrap it in plastic wrap well (to prevent freezer burn & absorbing smells) and freeze.

How long does cookie dough last in the freezer?

I usually freeze my dough for up to 2 months.

HOW TO BAKE FROZEN COOKIE DOUGH

There are a few ways to bake frozen cookie dough, depending on the time you have. If you’re in a hurry, you could bake them frozen. Just add a few more minutes to the baking time.

If you’re not pressed for time, you could defrost the cookie dough in the refrigerator and then bake as directed.

HOW TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH

IF YOU’D LIKE TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH, TRY THESE YUMMY FREEZER-FRIENDLY COOKIE RECIPES:

 ~ Voula

© Pastry Wishes

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HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER (Step-by-step Tutorial)

This healthy, homemade peanut butter is refined sugar free and SO EASY TO MAKE! All you need is 4 simple ingredients and about 15 minutes!

homemadepeanutbutter

This homemade peanut butter is DELICIOUS! You will be surprised how easy it is to make peanut butter at home.

What I really love about this all-natural peanut butter is that I can control how sweet, creamy, or chunky I want it to be. Also, compared to store-bought, the flavor is unbeatable. And, most importantly, there are no strange ingredients or preservatives – you know exactly what’s in it!

What you’ll need to make homemade peanut butter:

homemade peanut butter ingredients

It only takes 4 simple steps to make your own peanut butter; that’s it! I think once you try this and see how easy it is, you’ll be making it often!

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER

 homemade peanut butter steps

 How to make creamy peanut butter

If your mixture isn’t creamy enough, just add a teaspoon of oil and start the processor again. Continue adding oil, a teaspoon at a time, until you get the consistency you like. Be careful, though, if you add too much oil, you could make the peanut butter too thin.

How to make chunky peanut butter

Take about 50 of the roasted peanuts and coarsely chop them. You don’t want to crush them completely, though. Set them aside. Process the remaining nuts (adding oil if needed) until the mixture reaches the consistency you like. Then add the coarsely chopped peanuts and mix until well combined.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Make sure the nuts are evenly spread out on the tray and they’re not overlapping.
  • Adding the vegetable oil (or peanut oil) will help make the peanut butter spreadable and prevent it from becoming too tough.
  • Adding honey or maple syrup is totally optional, but it really adds flavor.
  • This recipe turns out great with a high-powered food processor, but it should also work with a blender, depending on how powerful it is, however, you may need to blend it longer. Generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the more powerful the blender, which will affect how smooth the peanut butter will be.

 

homemade peanut butter

 

Enjoy!

~Voula 😀

Let me know how this homemade peanut butter turned out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER (Step-by-step Tutorial)

This healthy, homemade peanut butter is refined sugar free and SO EASY TO MAKE! All you need is 4 simple ingredients and about 15 minutes!
Prep Time15 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade, refined sugar free, how-to, healthy, peanut butter
Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups (250 g / 8.8 oz) raw, unsalted, shelled peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or peanut oil (+ 1-2 tablespoons extra)
  • maple syrup/honey to taste (optional)
  • salt to taste (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350 °F).
  • Spread a layer of peanuts on a baking tray and roast them for about 10-12 miunutes, or until they are golden brown.
  • Add the warm peanuts to a food processor. Pulse for about 3 seconds to break down the peanuts. Process the peanuts until the mixtur reaches the consistency you like. First they will become crumbly, then a thick wet paste will form.
  • Add the oil and continue processing until smooth and shiny, adding more oil if necessary.
  • Add the sweetener and salt to taste and process on high speed for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Transfer the peanut butter to a sterilized jar or an airtight container.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • This recipe turns out great with a high-powered food processor, but it should also work with a blender, depending on how powerful it is, however, you may need to blend it longer. Generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the more powerful the blender, which will affect how smooth the peanut butter will be.
© Pastry Wishes
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Measure Flour

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Measuring flour the right way can make a HUGE difference in the success of a recipe! Learn how to measure flour with my easy, step-by-step guide for consistent results all the time!

Measure Flour

Have you ever made cookies or cakes that turned out really dry and tough? Chances are you probably added too much flour.

One thing I learned over the years is that measuring flour the right way is CRUCIAL in baking!

First of all, you need to think about your utensils.

Are you using the right cup? 

This might sound like an obvious question, but coffee cups, mugs or tea cups are not the same as measuring cups. 

In baking, you really should have two different measuring cups, one for dry ingredients and one for liquid ingredients. The reason is one measures weight and the other measures volume. 

The more accurate you are, the better results you’ll have with a recipe.

So, once you have the right measuring cups, it’s time to measure the flour.

How do you measure flour correctly?

Some people scoop the measuring cup into the flour, but I found that this could add as much as 30 percent MORE flour, which could ruin a recipe. 

Here’s what I do:

STEP 1: AERATE THE FLOUR

Measure Flour

Flour that’s in a bag or container tends to get compact.  Aerating the flour means stirring it with a spoon and fluffing it up. I like using a really large bowl or container to do this, so that there’s enough room to aerate the flour.

STEP 2: SPOON THE FLOUR

Measure Flour

After aerating the flour, don’t scoop the cup into the flour. Instead, spoon it into a cup. Fill it over the rim of the cup, but make sure you don’t pack it down.

STEP 3: LEVEL IT OFF 

Measure Flour

Measure Flour

Level the excess flour off by using the back of a knife or an offset spatula. You may need to do this more than once, just don’t pack the flour down or tap the cup with the knife.

The importance of using a digital scale.

I found that it’s much more accurate to measure ingredients when using a digital scale, even after I weigh flour with cups, so that I get consistent results every time. 

When I use this method, 1 cup is 127 g / 4.5 oz. If you’re within 4-5 grams of this amount you’ll still have a pretty accurate amount for a successful recipe.

I hope you found this post useful! 

~Voula

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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