Cocoa powder is one of the two main ways to add chocolate flavor to dishes. Not only is chocolate flavor one of the most popular in existence, it is a versatile one as well. The food items you can make with it range from extremely simple desserts that can be thrown together in a few minutes to complex ones recommended only for the most serious home cooks. Consider some excellent ways to use cocoa powder below.
The most obvious way to use cocoa powder is the way that it was originally used by the Olmec people. The Olmec people were the first Mesoamerican civilization to have used the cocoa bean. They used cocoa as a drink. The drink they made with it was unsweetened and flavored with hot chili peppers while the modern version is sweetened and has milk added. Hot cocoa is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to utilize cocoa powder.
There are many different varieties of chocolate cake and most of them use cocoa powder as the primary source of flavor. It allows the cake to rise and to have a light texture while still providing the chocolate flavor and a dark, rich color. Cocoa powder is used in some chocolate frosting recipes as well. It does not require melting like chocolate and can simply be added to the dry ingredients.
There are two styles of brownie: the fudge-style that is dense and extremely moist, and the cake-style brownie that is lighter and softer. For the fudge brownies, the texture and color come from melted chocolate that consists largely of fat; with cake-style brownies, the flavor and color usually come from cocoa powder. The cocoa powder adds flavor without making the brownies denser and without adding fat.
Soft chocolate ice cream
If you make your own chocolate ice cream, you have two options to get the flavor and color: cocoa powder or melted chocolate. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but the texture of the ice cream can differ depending on which you use. If you want a softer and more velvety texture, you should use cocoa powder. The fat in melted chocolate will harden when it gets cold and result in an ice cream with a firmer texture. Cocoa powder has no fat and therefore will not stiffen when it freezes. In addition to its benefits for texture, it is easier to use as it does not require you to melt the chocolate to make the base.
Mole is another ancient application of cocoa powder. It is the truest authentic representation of cocoa powder’s effects in savory dishes. In a mole, cocoa powder brings deep smoky notes that may be completely unexpected if your entire experience of cocoa powder is in desserts. It is an excellent complement to the flavors in chicken and beef dishes and is an effective way to add depth in enchiladas and other Mexican dishes. See a spicy mole recipe here that utilizes cocoa powder.
Cocoa powder’s savory applications are not limited to mole as it also works well when combined with other herbs and spices to season grilled meat. Cocoa powder can bring richness and depth to a dry rub that would not otherwise possess it. A dry rub containing cocoa powder will also give color to white meats like chicken or turkey breast.