Last Updated on July 10, 2022 by Zara R.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is a popular ingredient for making chocolate cake, cookies, brownies, and other desserts. However, if you don’t have it on hand, you will want to know substitutes for unsweetened cocoa powder you can use. These substitutes can be a great option if you find yourself in a pinch.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is key to giving desserts a rich chocolate flavor and color. It is often an important ingredient in many chocolate desserts. However, if need be, you can use the ingredients in place of it.
What Is Unsweetened Cocoa Powder?
Unsweetened cocoa powder is a chocolate product that adds a rich, delicious chocolate flavor to foods and beverages. Cocoa powder is made by removing cocoa butter from the cocoa beans during processing. The leftover dried solids are cocoa powder.
To be exact, when making cocoa powder, the cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and broken down into nibs. The nibs are pressed in order to remove 75% of their cocoa butter, which in return leads to chocolate liquor. The liquor is dried in a solid, which is then ground into unsweetened cocoa powder.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is ideal for baking because it allows you to control the exact amount of sugar you add to a recipe. You do not want to use sweetened cocoa powder or cocoa mix in place of unsweetened cocoa powder. Since they both have sugar added to them, they will not allow you to have control of the sugar levels in your dessert.
Though many people think that cocoa mix and unsweetened cocoa powder are the same things, they are not. Instant cocoa mix creates hot chocolate when hot water or milk is added. It will not work as a substitute in recipes as it is made in a different process and is a different product.
Natural cocoa powder vs dutch-process cocoa powder
There are two main types of unsweetened cocoa powder, natural and Dutch-process. Though in certain recipes they can be used interchangeably, that is not always the case. So, if your recipe specifically calls for one over the other, be sure to use the one it calls for.
Natural cocoa powder is the natural powder that comes from roasting cocoa beans. It has a very concentrated chocolate flavor and by itself, it is acidic and bitter.
Natural cocoa powder is common in recipes that call for baking soda. The two ingredients react with each other to create a desirable rise in baked goods. It tends to be lighter in color, with almost a reddish-brown hue.
Dutch-process cocoa powder uses cocoa beans that are washed with an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate. By washing them in this solution, it makes the cocoa powder neutral. So, in return, it is often used in recipes that call for baking powder instead of baking soda.
Dutch-process tends to be darker in color. In addition, it often tends to be slightly milder in flavor than natural. If a recipe does not specify natural or Dutch-process then you can use either.
Cocoa Powder Substitute
If you are making a recipe with unsweetened cocoa powder but realize you are all out, do not fret. There are substitutions you can use that will make up for this chocolate ingredient. Though it is always ideal to use unsweetened cocoa powder when a recipe calls for it, these substitutions will do the trick.
These substations are the best options to use for your chocolate recipes. You want to avoid using bars of milk, dark or semi-sweet chocolate as they won’t have the same effect.
Dutch-process cocoa powder
If you have a recipe that calls for natural cocoa powder, you can use Dutch-process in its place with the right adjustments. When adding Dutch-process in place of natural, for every three tablespoons of cocoa powder also add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice. This serves as the acid baking soda needs when using cocoa power in order to leaven your baked goods.
Carob powder or carob chips
Carob powder or carob chips can both work as substitutes for cocoa powder. They are great alternatives if you have a chocolate allergy or are sensitive to caffeine. However, it will add a bit of sugar, so you may need to make adjustments, but carob powder will not add fat.
Carob chips will add both a small amount of fat and sugar, so you will likely have to adjust accordingly. To do so, omit one tablespoon of fat from your recipe and reduce the sugar by one teaspoon to one tablespoon. Use one ounce of melted tablespoons of carob chips for every three tablespoons of cocoa powder the recipe calls for.
Unsweetened baking chocolate
Unsweetened baking chocolate is a great option as a cocoa substitute in recipes. Since unsweetened baking chocolate contains additional fat, you will need to adjust accordingly.
For every three tablespoons of cocoa powder your recipe call for, use one ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate in its place. To make up for the additional fat in the chocolate, omit one tablespoon of butter, oil, or shortening from the recipe.
If you are using unsweetened baking chocolate, carob powder, or carob chips, your recipe may not have as strong of a chocolate flavor as it normally would. However, your recipe will still have a wonderful flavor and texture even with the substitutions.
Delicious And Simple Substitutes For Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is a key ingredient in many recipes to achieve a delicious chocolate flavor. There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder, natural and Dutch-process. Though in several recipes that are interchangeable, in others it is important to us the specific one it calls for.
If you find yourself without unsweetened cocoa powder while baking, there are some great substitutions for cocoa. You can use unsweetened baking chocolate, carob powder, and carob chips. You can also use Dutch-process in the place of natural as long as you also add cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice.
Do you have any questions regarding substitutes for unsweetened cocoa powder? If so, please ask any questions in the comment section below regarding this popular ingredient in chocolate recipes.