High quality cocoa powder must be easily dissolved and have good flavor. The beans used for the manufacture of cocoa are selected especially for this purpose.
After roasting and winnowing (removing the outer shell from the cacao beans) they are ground making cocoa liquor. The heat which is generated melts the cocoa fat thus generating a liquor, and sometimes additional heating is employed. The liquor hardens to unsweetened chocolate when it cools below 95 degrees F / 35 degrees C.
Pressure is employed to the cocoa liquid (while slightly heated) to remove some of the fat which is also called cocoa butter. The remaining cocoa solids contains 10-25% cocoa butter depending on brand. The solids are then ground to cocoa powder. Sometimes the cocoa is made alkaline by treatment with potassium carbonate; this is called Dutched cocoa. This gives a darker color and a stronger flavor. American recipes are usually made for natural cocoa powder, which has a higher acidity. Therefore baking soda may be used in recipes with natural cocoa. Baking soda should not be used with Dutched cocoa unless an acid ingredient is added, e.g. orange juice or sour cream. Cocoa used for cooking is normally unsweetened.
For more information about the process of manufacturing cocoa at a small cocoa plant, see the process description by the Grenada Chocolate Company.
Natural cocoa powder.
Dutched cocoa powder.
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