Here at the Prepared Pantry, we set a high standard for our cocoa powders because our customers only deserve the best. We don’t like powdery, chalky, bitter, or harsh cocoas or cocoas that taste flat. We like rich, deep, chocolaty cocoas that are smooth and almost buttery. Really good cocoas make baked goods taste like they were made with solid chocolate, not cocoa powder.
Finding the Best Cocoa Powder
We don’t take the consideration of new cocoas lightly at the Prepared Pantry. We line them up, test them out, and compare. Once, we lined the new cocoa candidates along our counter with a plate of brownies and pitcher of hot chocolate behind each one, so we can test each one and make notes of the flavors.
There were burnt brown cocoas, red cocoas, and one black cocoa. We had the entire staff come up to sample the cocoas. We were looking for another really good cocoa to complement the Ramstadt Breda cocoas that we already had. A half-hour later, we reluctantly gave up, concluding that none were as good as what we already had.
When we tried again, we invited customers to join us and weren’t too optimistic. Given our prior experience, we weren’t optimistic. But the cocoa on the end was a Belcolade from Belgium, a rich dark Dutch cocoa with 22/24% cocoa butter. It was very, very good. It was as rich and intense as Ramstadt Breda but with a distinct, complex flavor with mellow undertones.
I’m a real fan of Ramstadt Breda cocoa but I like the Belcolade even better. The consensus was that it was a very good cocoa. Some thought it was better than Ramstadt Breda but others thought it was just comparable. We agreed that it was an excellent cocoa that we wanted to share. We concluded that for a chocolate lover, it was worth the price.
The Cocoas at The Prepared Pantry
The three cocoas below are rich, smooth, and chocolaty. It’s hard not to love all of them or choose a favorite. They are very good, premium cocoas with their own distinctive flavors.
There are three factors that create the distinctive flavors of cocoas:
- The beans: Different beans from different regions taste different. The quality of beans matters.
- The processing: Cocoa beans are naturally acidic. Dutch cocoas are processed with an alkaline to reduce acidity. The processing is proprietary and affects the flavor.
- The cocoa butter: The amount of cocoa butter in cocoa really matters. Cocoa butter mellows the harsh edge found in untempered cocoa beans. It adds richness and a smooth mouth feel.
Ramstadt Breda Medium Dark Cocoa
This Dutch cocoa is rich and dark. It has a cocoa butter content of 16/18 compared to 8/10 for most store brands and 22/24 for Ramstadt Rich Dark and Belcolade. It has a warm, deep, chocolaty flavor without being overpowering. It’s almost like a milk chocolate flavor in a dark chocolate cocoa.
Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa
This Dutch cocoa has a cocoa butter content of 22/24 as does the Belcolade cocoa. It is our most popular cocoa. It has an intense chocolate flavor but is mellow with no harshness. Using this in baking is like adding solid dark chocolate to your recipe.
Belcolade Real Belgium Chocolate Cocoa
This is a premium 22/24 Dutch cocoa and is our favorite for baking. For me, this is an incredible cocoa. It is as rich and dark as our Ramstadt Breda cocoa but I find the flavor very complex with a rippling of flavors. Belcolade scientists have identified 22 dimensions of flavor in chocolate, and they have put that into this cocoa.