How can I make my cocoa powder shine?
June 10, 2008 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a recipe that will showcase my fancier-than-average cocoa powder.

I bought a container of Callebaut French cocoa powder a while ago (unable to resist its beautiful, deep brown color), and now I'm at a loss for what to do with it. Normally I just use cocoa powder in lieu of unsweetened chocolate to make a pan of Mark Bittman brownies, but I'd like to expand my horizons and make some kind of dessert where the difference between plain old Hershey's and my vaguely splurge-y (for a grad student) cocoa powder really comes through.

I looked at this previous AskMe but a lot of those recipes seemed like they might be a little picky in the texture department when it comes to substituting cocoa powder for chocolate. I'd prefer recipes that either ask for cocoa powder, have been successfully made with cocoa powder, or seem unlikely to collapse/seize/crystallize/separate/etc. if made with cocoa powder.

It's not exactly hot cocoa season, or else I'd have an easy answer. I do love frozen hot chocolate (a la Serendipity 3), but I don't own a blender (only a food processor).

Bonus points if you can tell me whether this is Dutch-processed cocoa or not. Does "French cocoa powder" just mean it comes from France?
posted by pluckemin to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm, some things to try...

- A molten chocolate cake. Yes, I know it's not trendy anymore. They're still lovely.
- Souffle. A bitch to make but oh my God worth it
- A really, really sickeningly good mole. Perhaps with something really special, like venison.

Or, make cocoa. Takes a bit of getting used to if all you're used to is hot chocolate.. think of it as somewhat-chocolate-flavoured-coffee, works better.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:56 PM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: Curious. Callebaut is not a French company, it's Belgian. It is probably Dutch processed, as the Callebaut I had was, and my (Belgian) mother-in-law was unable to find me cocoa that wasn't (and the recipe I was doing turned out fine using Dutched cocoa, regardless of the recipe). The Dutch processed cocoa gives more chocolate flavor for the amount of cocoa, at the cost of a bit of alkaline. I don't understand what the fuss is about it. (Funny, as a kid, I hated chocolate. As an old fossil, just seeing the name 'Callebaut' fills me with a sense of warm affection).

Only recipe I know is for a rather simple (and deliicious) bundt cake called "Tunnel of Fudge" (A name which always makes me giggle). It magicaly comes out with a fudgy, gooey center. I never bother to frost it, doesn't seem to be needed. (Hmm, maybe I ought to make one of those this weekend).
posted by Goofyy at 8:13 PM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: I would consider something simple and without additional complicating flavors. For example, I really like Brigadeiro, a Brazilian dessert made from cocoa, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. It's super easy, and if you can buy a not-as-sweet milk, your only flavor is cocoa. Plus, you can roll the finished brigadeiro in the cocoa again. (You can also roll it in chocolate jimmies (not recommended to mix this crap with your good cocoa), granulated sugar, shredded coconut, etc.)

(Not to disagree, but every molten chocolate cake I've made was from solid chocolate, not cocoa.)
posted by whatzit at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: The chocolate cherry cookie recipe in the Sweet Melissa cookbook:

1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c dried sour cherries (I increased this from the 1/3 called for in the book)

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Stir in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three portions, mixing each just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and cherries. Refrigerate dough for a few hours until firm.

Place the dough on a clean work surface and divide in half. Roll out into logs about 12 inches long. Refrigerate for about an hour. Dough can be frozen for a month if wrapped well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets. Cut dough into 1-inch slices. Place cookies 1 & 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cookies look just baked. Do not overbake. (Seriously. Bake time is critical. If the cookies look or feel done, they are over done and they no longer taste like the rich, delicious morsels they should be. If yo don't have a thermometer in your oven, get one. If you have a convection oven, don't bake at more the 325 and check at about 10 minutes).

Makes 2 dozen rich, moist, deep chocolate cookies with a light cherry tang.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:55 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not a dessert, and admittedly more of a winter dish, but this recipe for braised short ribs with chocolate and rosemary is fantastic, and definitely benefits from high quality cocoa powder (and high quality chocolate, as well).
posted by dersins at 9:04 PM on June 10, 2008

Best answer: I just made this chocolate rum cake yesterday for my friend's birthday, and it was pretty much ridiculous. It takes 2 cups of cocoa powder!
It was fantastic, and fantastically rich.
It's important to frost the cake ahead of time and let it chill for at least 8 hours to let the flavors meld.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:06 PM on June 10, 2008

Maybe try thinking of something besides dessert? There are great recipes for Mexican Chocolate Chicken Mole and in Madrid I went to a fancy restaurant that had plenty of fusion recipes like quail with chocolate sauce. Of course these recipes aren't with a sweet type of chocolate but you can taste the chocolate and it blends perfectly.
posted by JJ86 at 5:41 AM on June 11, 2008

Best answer: I had some fancy pants cocoa powder (a Christmas present) and made these Oreos. They are amazingly delicious cookies with regular cocoa powder but with the high end stuff, they were incredible.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:37 AM on June 11, 2008

Heat some water with a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean and cocoa powder. Remove cinnamon and vanilla, whisk well until it's frothed. Add sugar to taste. Pour in small espresso cups.

I know it resembles hot chocolate, but this is really delicious after dinner/later in the evening and truly makes your cocoa shine!
posted by lioness at 9:46 AM on June 11, 2008

I was also going to suggest the Smitten Kitchen Oreo recipe. I bought some dutch processed cocoa and have been meaning to make them for a while now!
posted by sararah at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2008

If you end up with just a few teaspoons left over, you could always bust out a red velvet cake!
posted by The GoBotSodomizer at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2008

Make homemade truffles.

Step 1: Make ganache. Coarsely chop 12oz of dark chocolate and put in food processor. Process until it forms small beads, about the size of breadcrumbs. Bring 1c. of heavy cream to a boil, then pour into food processor and process only until it's blended together, 10 seconds or less.

Step 2: Allow ganache to cool and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Step 3: Use two identically shaped metal measuring teaspoons to scoop out the ganache and make small balls. Roll balls in cocoa and form them in your hands into neat balls, and put on waxed paper. Store in refrigerator.

(Step 4 is optional if you have excellent cocoa.)

Step 4: Dip the balls in melted chocolate and roll in chopped nuts or more cocoa.

Incidentally, this technique for ganache is really easy, and it's good for all kinds of things.
posted by Caviar at 11:19 AM on June 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, you guys! I'm sitting here salivating at my keyboard.

I've actually make the Smitten Kitchen oreos before, and I'd totally forgotten about them! I found the cookie part delicious, but the filling didn't really do it for me. (Part of the problem might be that I unwittingly got part of a butter wrapper in the food processor, and so eating the cookies required occasionally pulling a small bit of waxed paper out of your teeth.) I'll definitely try a batch of the cookies on their own.

exceptinsects, you are the WINNER -- that chocolate rum cake looks absolutely amazing. Two cups of cocoa! Now I just have to time it so that I make it right before a social event, so I don't wind up eating the whole thing myself...
posted by pluckemin at 10:07 AM on June 13, 2008

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