For The Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Flavor, Use Black Cocoa

Meet the secret weapon to bolder baked goods.

Bowl full of brownie batter
Photo: Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Chocolate lovers often fall into two camps: those who prefer the sweet smoothness of milk chocolate and those who prefer the sharper bite of dark chocolate. But what if I told you there was a third darker, bolder camp? Introducing: black cocoa powder.

If you've ever taken a bite out of an Oreo and wondered how they manage to cram so much chocolate flavor into each bite, black cocoa is your answer. It's an ultra-dark variety of cocoa powder that can instantly embolden just about any baked good with a dramatic color and intense chocolatey flavor. It's the darkest cocoa powder of them all, and one that is best enjoyed by people who truly love the darker side of chocolate.

What Is Black Cocoa Powder?

Black cocoa is a type of cocoa powder that has been so heavily Dutched (AKA treated with an alkaline solution) that it has turned black. All Dutch-processed cocoa powders have been treated with an alkaline solution to reduce their acidity, but black cocoa powder pushes this process to the extreme. What's left is an ultra-dark cocoa powder that has an intense chocolate flavor and aroma. The best way to describe black cocoa's flavor is to compare it to an Oreo. It has a prominent chocolate flavor that is undeniably dark, but slightly different from your typical chocolate baked good. Some people have compared the flavor to boxed cake mix, while others describe it as having a smoother, less harsh taste compared to standard dark chocolate while still packing a flavorful punch.

How to Use Black Cocoa in Recipes That Call for Regular Cocoa

Black cocoa powder can be used in place of Dutch-processed or natural cocoa powder in most recipes in equal parts, but there are a few things to watch out for. If your recipe calls for more than half a cup of cocoa powder, we wouldn't suggest using 100% black cocoa powder as the sheer quantity of the swap-in might change the recipe structure. A safer bet would be to swap out only half of the cocoa for black cocoa powder. Anything under half a cup should be fine to swap out with 100% black cocoa powder.

Also note that because black cocoa powder has been so heavily Dutched, it shouldn't be used in recipes that rely on baking soda alone as their sole leavening agent. This is because black cocoa powder doesn't react with baking soda the same way traditional cocoa powders do, so your bakes will end up flat. Before using black cocoa in your recipes, make sure the recipes call for baking powder.

The Best Recipes for Baking with Black Cocoa Powder

The best recipes to use black cocoa in are ones that put chocolate front and center: brownies, chocolate cakes, and frostings. Because black cocoa has such an intense flavor, it has a tendency to overpower any other flavors; it wants to be the star. Black cocoa shines in homemade Oreo recipes, cakes, and cookies, adding its unique chocolate flavor. It's also great for adding a deep black color to baked goods and frostings; and it's ideal for adding to black buttercreams in place of black food dye (which can stain your mouth).

Ready to get baking? Here are some recipes that would be perfect for baking with black cocoa powder:

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