There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: Dutch process and natural cocoa powder.
Can you tell by the photo which one is which?
The natural unsweetened cocoa powder is on the left. The Dutch processed cocoa powder is on the right.
What is the difference?
Dutch process cocoa is treated with an alkali to neutralize the acidity. It must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients used. It is a darker, reddish-brown color and has a mild flavor. I used this cocoa for my Chocolate Tortillas.
|Ghirardelli's Dutch Processed Cocoa|
Unsweetened cocoa is lighter in color and is more intense in flavor. When combined in recipes using baking soda (which is an alkali), it reacts, causing baked goods to rise.
|Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder Measuring Tip|
Are they interchangeable?
No, they are not. I tried using Dutch process cocoa in some cookies that had both baking powder and baking soda. The taste was different, as there was more of an acidic taste due to the alkali in both the Dutch processed cocoa and the baking soda.
Rule of thumb?
In recipes calling for only baking powder, you can use Dutch processed cocoa.
In recipes calling for baking soda (or both baking powder AND baking soda), used natural cocoa powder.