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Friday, July 31, 2015

Unsweetened vs. Dutch

This week I learned lots about chocolate. As it is a favorite of mine, there really wasn't much that I read, which I didn't already know. HOWEVER - I did finally learn what the difference is, between all natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, and Dutch process cocoa powder:

For starters, chocolate is naturally acidic. Which, when exposed to other ingredients in a recipe that are basic (as in, they are bases according to ph scale), chemical reactions occur. The most commonly seen, yet taken for granted, is that of leavening. Let's say you're making brownies, or double chocolate cookies. As long as there is enough of a base included with the acidic, all natural cocoa powder, there shouldn't be any problem with the rising and creating of a fluffy texture. But let's say for some "unexplainable" reason, your cookies or brownies turn out flat. The culprit behind the cause could be many things, but the most likely factor could be that you used Dutch Processed cocoa, instead of all natural. Dutch Processed cocoa has had alkaline added to it, making it so that the natural acidic quality of the chocolate has been neutralized. Depending on the other ingredients called for in the recipe, it could be that there was not enough other acidic ingredients to cause a reaction. 

Learning this has been a revelation to me! Giada de Laurentiis, has these double chocolate cookies that, a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with making. The obsession only lasted a few days in all honesty, but I couldn't stop making them because my cookies turned out nothing like Giada's. Giada's were fluffy, light, and had beautifully rounded top. My cookies were flat, crinkled when they cooled, and not even close to having a nice round basic cookie shape, let alone a rounded top. After making about 4 batches in 4 days, I gave up. However, two years later, my memory still recalled those cookies as I was reading the book's chapter on chocolate. I'm excited to try them again, this time hopefully the correct adjustments *fingers crossed* 

For this chapter's assignment, I had to make a similar cookie to Giada's cookies. However, the process by which to make them is completely different than hers.  They did turn out fluffy and full like I wanted, though still not the prettiest cookie on it's own. All things considered, I think I will be sticking with the recipe from MIT from now on (you can find it below), and making modifications for presentation: Drizzling with melted chocolate, substituting Andes mints for the chocolate chips, etc. 

NOTE: At first, I tried melting white chocolate chips for drizzling... uh-uh... didn't' work. It congealed, balled up, and dried out. I'm guessing it's because white chocolate is different in that it is not really chocolate. According to the textbook, On Food And Cooking, by Harold McGee, "White Chocolate" is chocolate-less chocolate," with practically no cocoa at all. It's mostly a mixture of extremely processed cocoa butter (it is odorless and a bit ivory, whereas "real" cocoa butter is more like a eggshell white and has the fragrance of chocolate), sugar and milk solids. It's either for that reason my white chocolate didn't work, or it was just old. 

But me let me tell you: The minute I began melting the good quality dark chocolate squares, it was glossy, smooth, and seemingly didn't need any tempering... although I'm sure tempering still would have elevated the cookie more. 

To learn more about this course, click here: Death by Chocolate.

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