Monday, February 27, 2012

A Cocoa Conundrum

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe?
Mine is my chocolate roll-out cookies. I've made it a million-trillion-gagillion times! And it's delicious :)
For the last few years, since I became a "serious" baker, I've stuck with the same cocoa powder. It's Saco's Premium Cocoa; a special blend of natural and dutched cocoas.
I've become really partial to this cocoa because it has a rich flavor and makes a dark chocolaty dough.

What kind of cocoa or chocolate do you use in your baking? Do you have a preference? A family tradition?
Last week, I couldn't find the cocoa I love. I know!! I went to two places and both were sold out. Yep, I found myself in a cocoa conundrum. Hence the title of this post :)
So I decided to do a little experimenting! I bought all the cocoa I could find!

Here they are all! So pretty and chocolaty :)

Well, let's start from the beginning.

Cacao Di Pernigotti
Available at Williams-Sonoma for $15.00 for 12oz.
This cocoa was the darkest of all the ones I tested. It has a rich, dark flavor and wonderful aroma. It's finely ground and makes a great cookie!

Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
Available at most grocery stores for around $7.00 for 16oz.
This cocoa was the only sweetened cocoa I tried. This one is light in color and smells sweet and mild. If you prefer milk chocolate to dark or semi sweet this one might be better for you. If you don't bake as much this is a great option, you can add warm milk and use it for hot chocolate. Chocolate is a pantry staple and this one is versatile.

Saco Premium Cocao
Avaialble at most grocery stores for under $4.00 for 10oz.
My favorite!! This one is a dark brown, almost reddish in color. It has a fresh flavor and rich, chocolaty flavor. I've used it in cookies, cakes, brownies and buttercream. The color is perfect for making anything red velvet!

Hershey's Cocoa, Special Dark
Available at most grocery stores for under $3.00 for 8oz.
This new special dark blend from Hershey's is dark (obviously) but not bitter. It has a strong flavor and is perfect for baking. It makes a really nice, dark dough and pairs well with coffee and vanilla.

Hershey's Cocoa, Natural Unsweetened
Available at most grocery stores for under $3.00 for 8oz.
Much lighter in color than the other Hershey's cocoa I tested, this one still has a nice aroma with a milder flavor. It's a nice semi-sweet chocolate, good for baking. Also good for making your own hot chocolate.

Nestle Toll House Cocoa
Available at most grocery stores for under $3.00 for 8oz.
This cocoa is light in color and has a smooth, mild flavor. It makes a lighter colored dough and really delicious buttercream. This cocoa reminds me of my childhood :)
And it makes me think of that Friends episode where Phoebe is trying to remember her Grandma's secret recipe (the one on that back for the Nestle Toll House bag). Gotta love Friends :)

I made a LOT of cookie dough this weekend. Seriously SIX batches! I'll be making cookies for a while!
All of the cocoa had good flavor and most of them were pretty close in price. The cacao de pernigotti was the most expensive and if you have an extra $15 laying around go ahead and give it a try. I didn't notice enough difference to warrant paying that much more. If you can find the Hershey's Special dark, I recommend picking it up! If you want a darker dough and a richer flavor, this one is a winner. Next time I can't find Saco cocoa, I'll be getting both types of Hershey's and mixing them 50/50.

I think the Saco is still my favorite. Maybe because I am stubborn, but maybe because it's perfect! I look for two things in my chocolate cookie dough, flavor and color. This one has both. The dough is a dark, dark almost mahogany brown. It also has a rich chocolaty taste, not too strong, not at all bitter and not too sweet. I add two different kinds of coffee to my cookie dough and this particular cocoa really pairs well with coffee. It has just the right blend of cocoa for coffee. Not too mild be over-powered and not to dark to make the cookie strong and bitter. And it's a good price for such a wonderful cocoa.

You really can't go wrong with any of these brands. They are all wonderful quality cocoa's. Next time you find yourself without your go-to ingredient, be daring! Grab a couple and let the experimenting begin :)

Flour De Lis
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