Weighing Cocoa Powder
Posted: 30 September 2010 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m a bit of a newbie to baking - so forgive this basic question….

I’ve always thought that weighing ingredients is better than measuring them with measuring cups and spoons.  This seems to work well for me with flour, sugar, etc.  But I noticed that the when I weigh cocoa powder the amount is always much more than the measure in the recipe.  So, tonight, for example, I made a Mississippi Mud Pie… the recipe called for 1/3 cup of cocoa powder - there are 16 teaspoons in a 1/3 cup and each teaspoon of cocoa powder weighs 5 grams - So I added 80 grams of cocoa powder.  The pie ended up coming out pretty dry and a bit too bitter for my taste.  I’m guessing it’s because I should have had much less cocoa powder.  Better to measure it next time?  Any thoughts on this?

Thanks!

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Posted: 01 October 2010 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Some cocoa powders contain more fat than others; perhaps yours was on the lean side, which might have contributed to the perceived dryness.  It also will affect the density of the cocoa powder, meaning that a given volume will weigh differently depending on its fat content, and perhaps due to other factors, too, such as grind size.

Personally, I find the convenience of weighing so compelling that I’d stick to that method, but just make weight adjustments for particular recipes.

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Posted: 01 October 2010 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes to everything Charles said- whenever I weigh low-fat cocoa powders, I end up with a dry, overly-intense cake.  Cocoa beans have a naturally-occurring cocoa butter content, so that the higher quality brands contain 20-24% cocoa butter.  But many of the lower-priced cocoas have part of that removed, and are only about 10% cocoa butter.

Sometimes it is hard to tell from the nutritional label just how low-fat the cocoa is, but a quick call or email to the company will get you the fat content per 100 grams.  If it’s below 20%, it will cause problems in recipes that were developed with full-fat cocoas. 

The following are full-fat (20% or more) cocoas:
Green & Black’s
Bensdorpf
E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge
Valrona (this one has a burnt straw component to the flavor that I don’t care for, but some people love it)

The following are low-fat (10% or less) cocoas:
Hershey Special Dark
Equal Exchange

There must be other brands in both categories, but these are the ones I have baked with and confirmed cocoa butter content with the companies.

The best solution to this problem is to correct the cocoa butter content.  I do it by using a combination of 25% by weight unsweetened chocolate (I like Scharffenberger) and 75% low-fat cocoa.  For example, if a recipe calls for 100g of cocoa, I use 25g of unsweetened chocolate and 75g of low-fat cocoa.  You can do a similar substitution with pure cocoa butter, but I find the unsweetened chocolate more available. 

I chop the chocolate and add it to the boiling water along with the cocoa in recipes that use the hot water blooming technique.  For recipes that just add the cocoa to the flour, you could either grate the chocolate very finely, or just measure the cocoa by volume and skip the correction to the fat content (this is what is recommended in the Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread). 

OK, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

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Posted: 01 October 2010 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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In TCB Weight Chart on pg440 Rose lists the weight of 1 Cup of Cocoa at 80 grams.  I might just be confused by all the math (that’s been known to happen) but you might rechk your calculations…80 gr divided by 3 should be about 26 grams…

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Posted: 01 October 2010 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Ahhh, yes to what Janet said!  One cup of cocoa weighs 82-95 grams, so one-third of a cup would weigh between 27-32g.  There was way too much in your pie.

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Posted: 01 October 2010 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Ah, you must have been using Green & Black’s!!  The serving size weight on their label is wrong.  I called them about it a couple of months ago.  And emailed them. 
I actually have a post out here somewhere about it.  Their figures were so different from everyone else’s, I weighed it to check it, and theirs conform, generally.

They say 1t = 5g., but it’s really about 1T (like most others of a similar quality). 

Sorry this labeling problem, which they will not fix for some reason, nabbed you!

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