What a fabulous question! I have asked this same thing, answered it many times and am happy to do it here today. In fact, a friend recently made cupcakes and didn’t have any Dutch cocoa so she just used the unsweetened cocoa she had on hand. Unfortunately, the recipe didn’t call for any baking soda so the cupcakes didn’t rise a lot and came out more like muffins. Still tasted just fine!
So, what’s the difference? Dutch process has been treated with alkali and doesn’t react with baking soda (an alkali). You will notice that recipes with Dutch process cocoa will not ask for baking soda.
Natural unsweetened cocoa is an acid and will react with baking soda, which will cause the batter to rise. Some recipes might want to stay nice and flat, which is why you won’t see baking soda. If the recipe needs to rise, then baking soda is called into action and Poof!
So that’s the secret behind these two. Just a little science. So grab some chocolate, a recipe and let’s get cooking!
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