Dutch-processed cocoa powder is made with natural cocoa that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to make it pH neutral. The result is a cocoa powder with a mellower flavor and darker color. If you ran out of Dutch-processed cocoa powder and didn’t realize it or your local grocery store doesn’t carry it, you will need an alternative. Below are several Dutch-processed cocoa powder substitutes that you may have in your kitchen.
Your best bet: Natural cocoa powder with baking soda
Natural cocoa powder has the benefit of being widely available, especially in American grocery stores. Natural cocoa powder has not been alkalized so it still has the acidity of the cocoa bean, which can give it a harsh flavor. By adding baking soda, you will be neutralizing that acidity.
With the acidity balanced, natural cocoa will provide a similar flavor to that of Dutch-processed cocoa powder and will behave in the same way. The acid in the cocoa powder will also activate the baking soda to provide leavening. If the original recipe calls for baking powder, you can replace it with baking soda.
When using natural cocoa powder to make a substitute for Dutch-processed cocoa powder, add about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to every three tablespoons of the cocoa powder. Another way to do it is simply to use exactly the same amount of natural cocoa powder that the recipe specifies for Dutch-processed cocoa powder but half as much baking soda as the recipe requires for baking powder.
One potential drawback to natural cocoa powder is that it is not as dark as Dutch-processed cocoa, so your desserts may turn out paler in color with a reddish tint.
A decent second choice: Unsweetened baking chocolate
Unsweetened baking chocolate is dark chocolate formulated for baking. In addition to its cocoa solids, unsweetened baking chocolate contains a significant amount of fat. When using it as a substitute for Dutch-processed cocoa, you will need to reduce other fats in the recipe. Remove about an ounce of fat from the recipe for each ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate you add.
The downside of unsweetened baking chocolate is that it doesn’t contain a high proportion of the cocoa solids that provide flavor. There’s a limit on how much you can add to the recipe since it includes fat so your recipe will not turn out as chocolatey as it would with Dutch Process cocoa. You will also need to treat it like natural cocoa powder and neutralize its acidity with baking soda.
In a pinch: Sweetened cocoa mix
There is not a lot of chocolate in a sweetened cocoa mix; however, it can still work as a substitute for Dutch-processed cocoa if you compensate for its shortcomings and use it in the right recipes. You will need to use more of it since a 1:1 substitution won’t provide you with the right amount of chocolate flavor. You will also need to cut down on any other sugar in the recipe.
Raw cacao powder is made from cold-pressed cocoa beans that are never roasted. The cold-pressing process is supposed to help the beans retain their natural enzymes and ensure that they are a healthier option than processed cocoa beans. In comparison, both Dutch-processed cocoa and natural cocoa powder are made with roasted cocoa beans.
Carob powder is a well-known cocoa substitute and can provide color and flavor that are in the same ballpark as Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Note that it is slightly sour, which means that its flavor might be a slightly closer match to natural cocoa powder than to Dutch-processed cocoa powder.