Can I increase the cocoa content in fudge?

‘ve been using a standard fudge recipe that works great, and yet I only wish was that it was even more chocolatey, with more cocoa taste. If it was less sweet that would be fine, too. Can I substitute some sugar for cocoa to accomplish this? Or just add extra cocoa?

Recipe so far:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
    1. Bring milk, sugar, cocoa to boil.
    2. Simmer until it reaches 234°F, do not stir.
    3. Remove from heat, cool to ~125°F.
    4. Add butter and stir until it starts to dull.
    5. (Sometimes I add the butter as soon as I take it off the heat at soft ball.)
      2 down vote

      Looking at your recipe, the most obvious thing to me is that there is no salt. Adding a small quantity of salt (say, 1/2 tsp) will enhance the flavors of the ingredients already present.

      The second thing you might try is switching to dutch processed cocoa; many people find this has a more intense chocolaty taste.

      You could try enhancing the overall flavor by adding a small amount of cinnamon (say 1/4 tsp) or instant espresso powder (perhaps 1 tbl). While these ingredients do not, in small amounts, overwhelm the flavor, they do increase its complexity and the impression of how chocolaty the fudge is.

      Of course, you can increase the amount of cocoa powder (at least by ratio): simply increase the absolute amount of cocoa, starting with small increments of perhaps 1 tablespoon per test run. The problem with this method is not only that it throws off the sweetness balance, but also that it will eventually change the chemistry, possibly influencing the crystallization of the sugar phase which is what provides the smoothness of the fudge.

      Finally, and more radically, consider reducing the amount of dairy, changing the milk for water, or reducing the amount of butter. The milk fats and milk solids tend to mask the flavor of chocolate. While I consider these part of the overall desirable balance of the fudge, since you after an intense chocolate experience, it may be worth experimenting with.

How long can you keep chocolate, and what is the best way to store it?

For instance, I have some bars of Valrhona I use for chocolate tarts and pastries, but I haven’t been doing the dessert thing in a while. How long does chocolate last before losing flavor (or does it)? And once it gets that white stuff on the outside, is it done? What’s the best way to store it for as long as possible?

Regardless of type, all chocolate should be stored in a cool and low humidity (dry) place away from direct sunlight. It would be best to seal it in an air-tight container, because, as ElendiTheTall said, the cocoa butter in it will absorb flavors.

Dark chocolate will last for years. Milk and white chocolate will last for a much shorter time (a few months), because of their milk content.

Improperly stored chocolate will develop bloom, which shows as a white or grey streaking or spotting on the surface. The spotting or streaking is cocoa butter fat separating and is a sign that the chocolate’s temper has been lost. This kind of chocolate is still suitable for any application where the chocolate will be fully melted (most baking). It can even be used as the base (non-seed) chocolate for tempering with the seeding method, but it should not be used for other candy making.

How can I identify dutch process cocoa?

I have a hard time finding “dutch process cocoa” in the store sometimes.

  • What other names might dutch process cocoa be known as?
  • Is there something else in the ingredients that might identify dutch process cocoa.

What is the key property of dutch process cocoa that makes it do its job? (Especially in cake and brownie applications?)

There really isn’t another name for Dutch processed cocoa. You could perhaps look at the ingredients or label and search for some reference to alkalization. Cocoa powder, Dutched or natural, consists of a single ingredient: cocoa. The difference is that Dutched cocoa has an extra step in the manufacturing process.

Normal cocoa powder is created from cocoa beans. These beans are fermented, roasted, shelled, and then ground into a paste known as chocolate liquor. This is roughly 50/50 cocoa butter (fat) and cocoa solids. At this step it is can be molded and sold as unsweetened baking chocolate. To make cocoa powder the liquor is hydraulically pressed to remove ~75% of the fat, and then pulverized into cocoa powder.

Dutched cocoa powder has an extra step before the shelled beans are ground into liquor. They are soaked in an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate.

Dutched cocoa was created in the 19th century by a Dutchman named Coenraad J. van Houten. Van Houten had invented the method of using a hydraulic press to defat chocolate liquor. Hot chocolate in these times would have a fatty greasy scum floating on the top of the beverage. Removing much of the fat prevented this. However, it also made the drink much harsher, acidic, and gave it a much lighter color.

Van Houten’s idea was to counteract the cocoa’s natural acidity (pH ~5.4) by soaking it in an alkaline solution. This neutralized the acids in the cocoa raising the pH to neutral (7) or higher depending on the duration of the soak. The higher pH also has the added benefit of darkening the cocoa; the higher it goes, the darker it gets.

Now, you might think that mellowing out the cocoa would be undesirable for the flavor. However this has been shown to not be the case. It turns out that the very acidic nature of natural cocoa can actually mask many of the natural undertones of flavor in the chocolate. Chocolate is much like wine and has hundreds of flavors that make up its flavor profile. These include sour, bitter, astringent, fruity, figgy, nutty, floral, smoky, and may more. Dutching only targets the bitter, astringent, sour and fruity undertones allowing the remaining ones to really showcase the chocolate.

There is a bit of misinformation that floats amongst bakers that the pH of the cocoa can affect the leavening of the baked good. Many recipes will actually sternly suggest using either Dutched or natural cocoa depending. This makes sense since leavening is a sort of balancing act that involves both acids and bases. However, it has been experimentally shown that this does not actually occur, and baked goods made with both Dutched and natural cocoa powder showed no differences in leavening.

So to actually address your questions. Again, no there isn’t another name for Dutched cocoa, but it can’t hurt to check for alkalized verbage. There is (should) also no additional ingredient that would identify a cocoa powder as Dutched. The key property it provides is simply chocolate flavor.

This answer is adapted from the Jan. 1, 2005 Cook’s Illustrated review of cocoa powder. Their results showed that without fail Dutched cocoa was voted superior to natural cocoa in every single blind taste test including: pudding, shortbread, devil’s food cake, and hot chocolate (which was masked by a sippy-top so reviewers could not see the tell-tale color).

If the cost doesn’t make you do a double take (it’s not really that expensive considering the quantity). I highly suggest you buy a 1 kg (2.2 lb) bag of Callebaut Cocoa Powder. This was the winner of the blind taste test performed by Cook’s Illustrated. I must agree that it will change your baked goods for the better like you would not believe.

Cocoa vs chocolate

OK, this has been bugging me for a long time… According to our cookery teacher at school, chocolate contains three ingredients: cocoa, sugar, and milk. If you mix these together, you can “make chocolate”.

Back here in the real world, this doesn’t appear to work at all. And here’s why:

  • Chocolate tastes smooth, sweet, rich and creamy.
  • Cocoa powder, by itself, tastes sharp, bitter, and repulsive.

You can certainly take a mug of boiling milk and dump cocoa powder into it, and then stir in a little sugar. What you discover is that

  1. Cocoa powder does not disolve.
  2. The drink tastes absolutely terrible.
  3. No amount of sugar makes it stop tasting bitter and horrid.
  4. Even adding peppermint, vanilla, or similar still fails to mask the awful taste of the cocoa powder.

In short, as far as I can tell, cocoa is nothing like chocolate. And yet it’s supposedly the most important ingredient…? Clearly something is missing from my understanding here. Can anybody explain?

Probably related: When you buy chocolate-flavoured products, sometimes they taste like chocolate (i.e., delicious), and sometimes they taste like cocoa (i.e., inedible). Why is that?

PS. I’m not trying to actually make chocolate. (It’s not like it’s hard to just buy the stuff!) I just want to understand what the difference is.

hen making chocolate the cocoa beans are fermented, roasted, and crushed/ground. They are then sent through huge presses that separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa powder.

Chocolate is cocoa butter that has been emulsified with varying quantities of powder and usually a ton of sugar and sometimes milk. The rolling of the chocolate with the butter to enhance the texture is called conching.
Cocoa powder will dissolve in liquid if you mix it into enough sugar beforehand- this is how chocolate drink mixes are made.

Additionally chocolate is smooth and creamy because of the unique properties of cocoa butter. It can be tempered to form crystals that are solid at room temperature but melt at body temperature. This makes them smooth and melt in your mouth.

Another reason, besides unwholesome quantities of sugar, why cocoa powder is more harsh tasting than chocolate, is that chocolate has often been dutch processed where cocoa powder often hasn’t.

Cocoa is naturally acidic and harsh tasting. Adding some alkalinity to balance its pH makes it much softer tasting- and darker in color.

You can buy dutch processed cocoa powder. Remember that some recipes need to be altered to use it- for example if the recipe called for baking soda you would have to use baking powder instead to maintain the correct pH.

How does one use cocoa butter in cooking?

I’m experimenting with different vegan solid fats for baked goods, like pancakes. This fat isn’t only solid at room temperature, it’s hard as a rock even on a warm summer day. For baked goods, do I need to do any adjustments to the recipe, or do I just microwave it until it melts and use it like butter?

Cocoa butter has an exceptionally high melting point for a vegan lipid.

For most baking applications, it probably not ideal; you would be better served with a liquid oil, or if you need something solid but malleable, a hydrogenated vegetable oil product like a vegan margarine.

The main culinary use (in general) is thinning chocolate in creating chocolate coated candies or similar, which makes sense as cocoa butter is one of the primary components in chocolate. Of course, when it is hardens and is in temper, it is literally as hard as chocolate.

Otherwise, you can fry or saute with it, although it would be easier to do so if you purchase cocoa butter grated as it is normally too hard to scoop at room temperature.

If you melt it (and it will melt just below body temperature), you could bake with it, but you may get a different texture than you expect, as when cool, it is much harder than other typical culinary fats. You will have to experiment and see what the results are like.

It will be too hard to use with creaming method recipes.