Three Easy Steps to Finding the Right Cocoa
Really good cocoa can be expensive. Really cheap cocoa is usually deplorable. You can find really good cocoa, while not cheap, is affordable.
We’ve seen a lot of cocoa, tested them and tried them. From those, we have selected three to carry. We really like them but they are all three different.
Cocoa is a personal thing. I like a lighter cocoa. Merri Ann, my wife, likes a darker cocoa. But all dark chocolate doesn’t taste the same. You need to test them. Here’s how to do so.
- Determine the cocoa butter content. Grocery store cocoas are usually 8-10 percent cocoa butter. Really good cocoa has two to three times that. If it doesn't have a high cocoa butter content, it isn't good.
- Check the reviews. Really good cocoa makes a magical difference in your baking. I know of no other baking ingredient that elicits such enthusiastic reviews as really good cocoa. If the cocoa doesn't have amazing reviews, keep looking.
- Try it in a product. Here are three simple recipes for you to try. All three focus on the chocolate without competing flavors. You should be able to focus on the perfect cocoa for you.
Chocolate Whipped Cream
This whipped cream is luscious. If you are making this to test the flavor of the cocoa, leave the vanilla and the meringue powder out. The vanilla will compete with the chocolate flavor. The meringue powder has a light, sweet flavor that will tint the chocolate flavor.
After you’ve tested the chocolate flavor, you can add both the meringue powder and the vanilla. The meringue powder will stiffen the whipped cream so that it will hold its shape much longer.
If you don’t have meringue powder, you can use cream cheese to stiffen the whipped cream. Soften the cream cheese and whip it with the sugar. Again, the cream cheese will tint the flavor of the chocolate.
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa
- Whip the cream cheese and sugar together until blended.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and whip until stiff peaks form.
This is an easy foolproof recipe. All you do is mix good quality cocoa and sugar and add milk. This is going to be richer and darker not just because of the cocoa but because of the fresh milk instead of nonfat dry milk. You can add a little vanilla to adjust the flavor if you like.
If you want a milder, smoother beverage, try Ramstadt Breda Medium Dark Cocoa.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- In a medium pan, combine the sugar and cocoa powder with a whisk until it is uniformly mixed.
- Add 1 cup milk and whisk until combined.
- Cook and stir over medium heat just until it comes to boiling. Gradually add the other 3 ½ cups milk while whisking.
- Heat through until hot but not boiling.
- Add a teaspoon of optional vanilla.
Yield: Four to six servings.
Hot Fudge Sauce
Hot fudge sauces are usually made with melted chocolate, but it’s easy to make it with cocoa—and considerably less expensive. The key is good quality cocoa but that’s also true if you are using melted chocolate. Your sauce will be no better than your chocolate or cocoa.
If you are using good cocoa—and yes, there is quite a difference in cocoas—this is excellent. It’s easy.
We made this both with 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup cocoa. Both work. Of course, you get a little deeper flavor with 3/4 cup cocoa.
As with other hot fudge sauces, this thickens as it cools. You can rewarm it in the microwave. You can also thin your sauce with additional cream.
- 2/3 cup Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Mix the cocoa and sugar together in a small bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave.
- Add the cocoa and sugar mixture to a small saucepan. Add the melted butter and cream. Heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the ganache starts to bubble. Remove from the heat.
- Let the sauce cool until it reaches the desired consistency. Thin with additional cream if you like.