Cocoa powder not dissolving…
Posted: 27 July 2010 12:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The last couple of times I had to dissolve cocoa powder in hot water, the mixture became a thick paste and not dissolving well. I am using dutch processed cocoa powder, and I did weigh it accurately. I also weigh the water and made sure to use it right away as soon as it boils - so there’s no evaporation risk.
When this happened, I started over and the 2nd time it was okay. It bugged me though - and I thought I must have been doing something wrong, though I swear I didn’t.

One of the HCB bakers posted the same experience today. She also used dutch processed cocoa powder, though a different brand. I told her I will post a question here on the forum to see if anyone has any idea and will keep her posted.

Rose said in her recipe to sift the cocoa powder before measuring, does this have an impact? I have to admit that I forgot to sift, but I never sift cocoa powder and I’ve had successful attempts. Unless it’s coincidental and those successful attempts the cocoa was not as clumpy.

I hope this makes sense and someone has any idea smile. Thanks for reading!

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Posted: 27 July 2010 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sifting the cocoa powder only is necessary if you are measuring it in cups.  If you are weighing it, and then dissolving it in hot water, I don’t think there is any need to sift it.  I don’t…and I’ve never had a problem.  What brand are you using?  Which recipe were you making?

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Posted: 27 July 2010 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Jenn, what brand of cocoa are you using?

In my experience, this doesn’t happen with full-fat cocoas (20-24% cocoa butter by weight), but happens every time with low-fat cocoas (10% cocoa butter by weight).  The low-fat cocoa doesn’t weigh the same way as the full-fat and you end up with an overly thick hot water paste, a drier cake, and a flavor that is too strong/ out of balance with the rest of the ingredients.  I’ve made lots of chocolate cakes that confirmed this pattern, every time I forget to “fix” the low-fat cocoa it happens. 

The low-fat, dutched cocoa that I use is about 10% cocoa butter, so to correct the fat content, I use (by weight) 27% unsweetened chocolate and 73% low-fat cocoa powder.  I use Scharfenberger unsweetened chocolate, which is about 55% cocoa butter, so this fix brings the fat content up to 22%.  My low-fat cocoa is a dutched, organic cocoa from Equal Exchange.  The unsweeetened chocolate needs to be chopped fairly finely and combined with the cocoa powder and boiling water. 

This fix doesn’t work if the recipe doesn’t have the boiling water step, then you need to get a cocoa that is full-fat, like Green & Black’s or Bensdorpf.  They will weigh properly and your paste will be the right consistency (also your cake will be more moist and the flavor, milder and well-balanced).

In The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, a book that Rose promo’d on her blog, they address this issue by measuring the cocoa by volume, instead of weight.  Since that only partly addresses the issue, I prefer to correct the cocoa butter content.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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How can we tell what the fat percentage is of our cocoa? I don’t think it’s always listed.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh gosh, I knew someone will have an answer, you guys are so smart!!!  grin

I’m using Lake Champlain unsweetened cocoa. It’s the only dutched processed cocoa powder I could find here. There’s plenty of hot chocolate mix (there’s even Green & Black’s) but not a whole lot of unsweetened cocoa.

According to the nutritional content, it has 1 gr of fat for 7 gr of serving size. So it is on the lower fat content.

Julie - I like your fix of mixing in unsweetened chocolate! How do I know how much to put in though?

Bill - the recipes are the Chocolate Ice Cream Cake and the Designer Baby Grand. Both are the German Chocolate Cake base.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Jenn - 27 July 2010 01:19 PM

Julie - I like your fix of mixing in unsweetened chocolate! How do I know how much to put in though?

From the nutritional label, your cocoa has about 1/7=14% cocoa butter.  Not very accurate, but enough to suggest that reduced fat content is probably your problem.  Since I think you mentioned that you don’t like things too intensely chocolate, let’s convert to a 24% cocoa powder (if you hold roasting/beans, etc. the same, a higher % of cocoa butter will give a creamier, milder-flavored chocolate than a lower one).

So, you’ll need to use about 78% cocoa and 22% unsweetened chocolate to mimic a 24% cocoa powder.  For example, if a recipe calls for 50g of cocoa powder, use 39g (0.78 x 50) of cocoa, plus 11g (0.22 x 50) of finely chopped, unsweetened chocolate.  Combine both with the boiling water and whisk into a paste. 

Oh, and I saw in my spreadsheet that Scharffenberger has 55% fat, not 50%, so I edited the post above (oops).

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Posted: 27 July 2010 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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knit1bake1 - 27 July 2010 01:15 PM

How can we tell what the fat percentage is of our cocoa? I don’t think it’s always listed.

The nutritional labels can help (look at fat content), but the serving size is so small that rounding errors are pretty big errors.  Perhaps a call to the company?  It may take a couple of test runs to perfect your ratio of cocoa to unsweetened chocolate.  Too much unsw choc will result in a thin hot water paste and an overly mild flavor to the cake (and possibly a heavier texture).  Too much cocoa will make an overly thick paste, a dry cake and a strong cocoa taste that is out of balance with the other components in a cake (sugar, vanilla, etc.).

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Posted: 27 July 2010 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Julie - you are so good! The math overwhelmed me at first, but I understand it now. It’s a pretty simple calculation. Thank you so much for your thorough explanation smile.
Ok now, onto the more important issue, when should I make this chocolate cake base again so I can try the new chocolate combo tongue wink.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I can confirm the fat content issue.  I was using Cocoamino DP Cocoa as it was the only “better quality” cocoa I could find… but it was soooo thick when I made the German Choc. Cake Base—- unlike what I recall when using some special ordered Green and Black’s.  The Cocoamino was about 10% fat content and I recently confirmed this problem when I used some higher fat Callebaut Cocoa.  Thanks Julie for the “substitute”.  Anyone interested in lobbying G&B for a massive bulk purchase??? smile

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Posted: 27 July 2010 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks for the confirmation, Sherrie!

Bulk G&B:  YES, PLEASE!

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Posted: 28 July 2010 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hidee Ho!  I know, long time, not write… shame on me.  please forgive me, I’ve been swamped.  Anyway, I was just reading the comments on cocoa powder and butterfat content.  I wondered what percentage Green & Black’s cocoa was, so I called them to find out - what a funny conversation - the customer service girl had absolutely no idea cocoa powder contained fat.  I had to explain the manufacturing process to her, and she still thought I was crazy, but I encouraged her to keep looking, and voila, she was able to read a statement which said their cocoa powder contained 22.3% butterfat.  I can’t purchase G&B cocoa anywhere around here, but I have a good stockpile of Penzey’s cocoa (which I’ve been using for years and love) - their dutch cocoa has 22%; natural cocoa has 24%.

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Posted: 29 July 2010 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks for that, Patrincia!!!

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Posted: 30 July 2010 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Just wanted to report that I was in touch with E. Guittard this week about their cocoa rouge (dutched, full-fat).  They confirmed that it is 23% fat by weight.  I like it very much, it’s a little stronger than G&B but in a nice way, not harsh or off-smelling like Vahlrona.

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