Tuesday, February 21, 2006

cocoa comes from...

Yesterday, I wrote a little about cocoa powder, but was reminded by Clare of Eatstuff that cocoa is used to make chocolate and not the other way around. So, I decided to check out the internet to see if there was an easy explanation as to how cocoa powder comes to be...

Cocoa powder comes from beans that grow in pods on the Theobroma cacao tree. Native to many South American countries, these trees now grow all around the world including in Africa, Southeast Asia, Hawaii and Holland.

To produce the powder, cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted and cracked. The nibs are then ground to extract most of the cocoa butter, leaving a rich brown paste called chocolate liquor, which contains about 25% butter fat. This liquor is dried again and hardening into a mass that is finally ground into a fine powder known as unsweetened cocoa. This is an intense process, but for the chocolate lover, it's worth every minute.

Black onyx dutch cocoa powder has been alkalized to the extreme, producing a dark, purplish black cocoa that when used in baking makes for an impressive black-as-coal colored product. Because black onyx cocoa has less fat, it does tend to create a drier product. It is suggested to use a 50/50 mixture of black onyx and dutch to add more fat. If you do want to use 100% black onyx, then be sure to increase the fat in the recipe. This will also alleviate any dryness.

Dutch cocoa has been treated with an alkali which helps neutralize cocoa's natural bitterness. It's a richer, darker and slightly milder powder that is perfect for hot cocoa and other chocolate drinks.

Natural cocoa has a strong, bittersweet flavor that is great for baking. Natural cocoa is the type to use when cocoa is called for in Mexican recipes. Use 3 tbsp. plus 1 tbsp. fat (shortening, butter, etc.) to replace a 1 ounce square of unsweetened chocolate.

I'm glad that Clare pointed this out to me so that I would be spurred to learn more about cocoa.

Changing the subject, I served the madeleines with melted chocolate and green tea powder on them to Satoshi. He liked them.

He'll be going on a business trip for the rest of the week, so I don't think I'll be cooking/blogging very much this week. Not too fun cooking for one! (although if I come across a foodie experience, will definitely share it with you!)

Have a nice week!


Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Kat!

To be honest I knew very little about cocoa. This is very informative. And I love the pictures.

It's funny how before I started blogging I never really gave a lot of thought to the ingredients I used in baking, like cocoa or chocolate!

The blogging world has opened my eyes.

Thanks for this info!

K and S said...

Hi Ivonne,
Thanks! I've been learning a LOT from everyone's posts too. It's amazing how much I really took for granted and how little I knew.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kat & Satoshi