cocoa powder safety 4

Substitutes for Cocoa-What can I use instead?

For the best color and flavor in chocolate desserts, cocoa is the most preferred ingredient. It is also used in most chocolate cake recipes, chocolate pudding, brownies, and chocolate ice cream.

If you wanted to make a brownie or bake a chocolate cake only to find out that you ran out of cocoa, there is no need to panic. There are a plethora of cocoa substitutes that will help you continue with your baking.

Out of all the substitutes available, it is essential to ensure that the flavor of the one you choose does not change the taste or the texture of your cake or brownie. Some of the substitutes you can use for cocoa are unsweetened baking chocolate, carob powder, hot cocoa mix, chocolate chips, and Dutch-processed cocoa powder, etc.

Well, that list can be long. In this comprehensive guide, you will get to know various uses of cocoa, its best substitutes, and how you can use them for your recipe’s best results. Ready? Let’s plunge into this insightful piece.

What is cocoa?

Cocoa is a highly concentrated powder made from chocolate liquor. This powder is known for making beverages like drinking chocolate. Confectioners use it as a coating for candy bars and boxed chocolates.

Bakeries also use cocoa for baking chocolate cakes, brownies, and cookies, while ice cream companies use it for coating frozen novelties. Other uses of cocoa are:

Making oatmeal- adding cocoa to it makes oatmeal chocolatier.
Face makeup- sounds gross! But yes, it is cheaper to make some face makeup if you cannot afford Maybelline.
Dessert chocolate smoothie- this is a healthy way to get your dessert fix. Adding cocoa powder gives it a rich chocolate flavor. Who doesn’t like chocolate?
Face mask- another cocoa on the face, again! Facemasks made out of cocoa are natural to remove acne and improve your skin’s hydration. Your face will be left smelling like chocolate too.

There are so many recipes you can make with cocoa. However, lack of it should not stop you from making your favorite dishes and desserts because you can opt for a replacement.

Nonetheless, you don’t have to run out of cocoa to use these substitutes. You can decide to use them if you feel that you have had enough cocoa and want to try something new.

Substitutes for Cocoa

1. Unsweetened baking chocolate

If you just found out that you ran out of cocoa, but you have baking chocolate, then you don’t have to worry because your problem is solved. Unsweetened baking chocolate, just like cocoa, has many cocoa solids, meaning that they share flavor components.

Another common feature is that they are both made from cocoa beans. The difference comes in the presence of cocoa butter. While the baking chocolate retains its butter, the cocoa powder does not have cocoa butter.

Due to this reason, you need to mind about the extra fat that unsweetened baking chocolate has; meaning, you cannot use a ratio of 1:1. If your recipe requires you to use two ounces of cocoa, you will remove two tablespoons of baking chocolate.

Baking chocolate also needs to be melted before use. Use a heavy saucepan over low heat and whisk it until it completely dissolves. Alternatively, you can put it in a glass bowl over boiling water. This method minimizes the degree of scorching.

Note that your recipe might probably not be as chocolaty as usual. You may also notice a minor difference in texture in the finishing.

2. Carob powder

Carob is a known substitute for cocoa. It comes from the carob tree that produces pods with a pulp. These seeds are then collected and dried and powdered to make the carob powder.

You might not get the exact flavor of cocoa from carbon powder because its flavor is not that much identical to that of the cocoa. However, the tastes do not have a lot of difference, and the powder resembles cocoa.

Just like chocolate, carob can be used in baking cakes, brownies, and even in beverages. Have you tried hot carob and carob smoothies, or are you still stuck on hot chocolates?

It is also important to note that the carob has a different texture, so foods baked using it might have a different texture. When substituting, use the ratio 1:1. Carob is sweet, so you will need to reduce some sugar in your recipe, depending on how you want your cake or cookies to be.

Since carob is different from cocoa, you will need to lower the degrees of your baking heat by 25o F. This is because it burns easier than cocoa powder. To use carob as a substitute for cocoa, mix three tablespoons of carob powder with vegetable oil, milk, and one tablespoon of water for every ounce of baking chocolate.

When using carob chips, be careful with the label because some carob chips are sweetened, and others are not. The sweetened ones are too sweet, and if you add another sweetener to your recipe without knowing, you might get disappointed.

3. Hot cocoa mix

If you have a generous supply of hot cocoa mix in your pantry enough to take you to the next winter, stop picking cocoa powder cans in the supermarket and clear this stock first.

How about if you clear your cocoa mix stock by substituting cocoa recipes with the hot cocoa mix? And why not? Along with other spices, the hot cocoa mix contains cocoa powder, a sweetener, and milk solids.

Due to the presence of cocoa powder in its ingredients, the hot cocoa mix will have a taste close to the one cocoa would give, but do not expect it to be exact. Some qualities like texture might vary.

It is essential to look at the additives because adding more sugar will only mess you up if it has sweeteners. You can use hot chocolate mix in place of cocoa to bake your brownies, hot chocolate whipped creams and hot chocolate popcorns. It’s almost Christmas time, a time to celebrate and make merry, so let’s bake those cookies.

4. Chocolate chips

Replace every tablespoon of cocoa powder in your recipe with half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Your chocolate chips have oil, so you might want to leave any part of your recipe requiring you to add oil.

Chocolate chips, unlike cocoa, have added sugar. It is essential to note this so that you don’t follow your exact recipe and keep pouring sugar into your cake.

Depending on your preference, where your recipe requires you to add sugar, you can choose to skip, add half the given amount, or not add any sugar at all. This substitute will bring out something similar to what you would have gotten if you used cocoa, only that the taste and texture might be a little different this time.

One unique way of making your chocolaty recipes is by adding a small amount of salt to them. This brings out the sweetness and a chocolatier flavor.

Also, consider the amount of milk. Chocolate chips come with some milk in it, so if your recipe requires you to have milk and you are using the chocolate mix, it is important to know the amount of milk in it to avoid adding excess. You can find this on the label of your chocolate chips.

5. Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Also known as ditched chocolate, this ingredient can be used to make chocolate desserts, home-made ice creams, and hot chocolate recipes. In well-stocked grocery stores, it is usually stocked alongside cocoa because it belongs to that family.

It is merely unsweetened cocoa that has been treated with alkali to give it a milder, less acidic flavor and a dark color. These cocoa-like characteristics make it a perfect substitute for cocoa.

You can replace the cocoa powder called for in your recipe with an equal amount of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Although the dark color may not be as visible as it will appear with your cocoa powder recipe, the taste and texture will not have a huge difference.

Add a pinch of cream of tartar to neutralize the acidity. In case you don’t want to use cream of tartar, you can use ordinary baking powder or even a drop of lemon. Another substance that is good for neutralizing acidity is vinegar. With it, nothing can ever go wrong.

6. Sweetened milk chocolate

This is another perfect substitute for cocoa when baking. Like the unsweetened chocolate, this one should also be melted before use. Be keen to decrease the amount of sugar and fat in the recipe because the milk comes with both.

If you are keen, you will notice that all these recipes are products of cocoa. Some have passed more advanced stages in the processing; that’s why they have more additives like milk and sugar. As such, it is important to read the ingredients on the package before buying, and when preparing the recipe, you should also be keen to eliminate these additives.


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