Cocoa minus its fats makes cocoa powder. Deriving this culinary element follows a careful process of roasting and winnowing cocoa beans before the nibs are ground, generating a liquor. The butter that results from melting fats is removed to leave the ingredient that defines recipes from brownies to a Frostbite cocktail.
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How natural cocoa powder is made
Cocoa beans contain around 54% oils that are separated from the liquor that forms as the nibs are finely processed by the grinder. The remaining paste is then placed in a cocoa press and subjected to high pressure, hardening it into a “cocoa cake”. The compact block is subsequently passed through a series of crushers until it reaches the right granularity and is ready for the packaging machine.
Natural cocoa powder has a reddish-brown color and reaches a pH level between 5.3 and 5.8, producing a slightly acidic taste that intensifies the flavors of foods it eventually combines with. Not to be confused with cocoa butter which are both derived from the same bean but are processed differently.
Add alkali for the Dutch cocoa process
An alternative method, known as the Dutch process, immerses the cocoa in an alkali solution to neutralize its pH, blunting its acidity level. Using moisture reduction technology, the liquid parts are decreased to 5%, turning the mixture back into a powder but with a darker brown color. The Dutch process allows the cocoa powder to dissolve more quickly in recipes, making it an easier ingredient to work with than natural cocoa powder.
Different acidity levels for different recipes
The Dutch variation has a milder flavor compared with the natural type and does not activate a leavening agent like baking soda, so it is a perfect match for baked products that include baking powder such as fudgy cookies or chocolate marshmallows. The more intense chocolaty flavor of cocoa powder processed in the Dutch style also makes it an ideal option in industry in the preparation of hot cocoa, ice creams or puddings.
On the other hand, the acidity in the natural cocoa powder reacts with leaveners to produce carbon dioxide in batters. Traditional recipes for baked items like chocolate breads, cakes, or cupcakes typically have a carbon soda base, making natural cocoa powder the better ingredient.
Gentle drying and packing to guarantee your cocoa powder quality
The fine grains of cocoa powder are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and the final drying process requires specialized equipment to extract any residual moisture content.
Cocoa powder is then checked for any unwanted particles that may have entered the production cycle. Using purposely-designed screening and separating technology, manufacturers can inspect the final product before packing.
Finally, the powder is packaged into sachets, sacks, boxes or other storage solutions according to the needs of the end users. The main formats require different packaging systems using precise dosing scales and safe sealing machines, making sure cocoa powder arrives in the best condition to enrich the delectable creations that people love to share.