There are hundreds of different kinds of cocoa powder. Actually, that’s a lie, there’s only two main kinds of cocoa powder: natural and Dutch processed.
Natural cocoa powder is so named because it is cocoa powder in its natural form, with no additives.
As such, the cocoa powder is very acidic, and in some circumstances will need to be neutralized with a base, like baking soda.
Dutch process cocoa powder, on the other hand, is washed in an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate to neutralize some of the acids in the powder. This turns it from a very acidic powder to only a slightly acidic powder.
This process creates a darker colour, makes it dissolve easier in liquids, and smooths out the flavour.
Natural cocoa powder tends to be have a more bitter and much stronger chocolate flavour.
The big difference comes into play when a leavening agent is used.E GENERAL
General Rules of Thumb
- When a specific leavening agent is called for in a recipe, do not make cocoa powder substitutions. Follow the recipe as written.
- If the majority of leavening is done by baking powder, use Dutch process cocoa.
- If the majority of leavening is done by baking soda use natural cocoa powder.
- If there is no specified leavening agent called for, substitutions can be made.