Differences between Dutch Processed and Natural Cocoa Powder
There are 2 types of unsweetened cocoa powder used in assorted chocolate recipes: Dutch processed cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder.
Dutch processed cocoa powder is dark brown color and is treated with an alkalizing agent more than natural cocoa to neutralize its acidity, bring the pH to about 7 and has a rich. Natural cocoa powder is made from ground roasted cocoa nibs from which most of the cocoa butter have been extracted. It is beige in color and is naturally acidic with a pH of about 5.4.
Most European cocoas are Dutch processed and most American cocoas are natural.
Many "baking experts" and cookbooks information that it's important to use the type of cocoa powder specified in a recipe in order for baked goods, and that Dutch cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder cannot be used interchangeably.
But is it really needed for the home cook to stock both kinds of unsweetened cocoa powder in their pantry?
Back in 2005, the folks at a respected cooking magazine tested five Natural cocoa powders and five Dutch cocoa powders in side-by side comparisons of chocolate shortbread and hot chocolate. The top two scoring natural cocoa powders and Dutch processed cocoa powders were then compared in side-by-side comparisons of shortbread, hot chocolate, devil's food cake, low-fat chocolate pudding, and chocolate pudding cake.
The tests concluded that there was no discernible difference in the results and the two Dutch cocoa powders beat out the two natural cocoa powders in terms of both flavor and texture. Dutch process cocoa powder won every test hands down.
High scoring Dutch processed cocoa powders include Callebaut, Droste, and Mercken's. I've also had success using Hershey's Dutch processed brand, when that's all I could find on my grocery store's shelves.