One of my favorite flavours for cakes and cookies is chocolate. It just about always tastes good! Also, it fits well with a lot of other flavours I like, such as fruits.
However, the past few weeks I wasn’t very happy with the chocolate bakes I made. They somehow tasted a little off, not to my personal taste. Even though others mentioned it still tasted good, I thought something wasn’t going the way it should.
The other day a lightbulb went on in my head though. I had been using a different type of cocoa powder the past few weeks! And that strange flavour only occurred in cookies and cakes I made with cocoa powder, not when I used chocolate to give the chocolate flavour.
Thus, I decided to buy all different cocoa powders available in my supermarket and execute a taste test. And yes, there surely is a difference!
A chocolate cookie recipe
Chocolate cookies tend to be made of just sugars, fats (butter), egg, flour, raising agents and of course cocoa power. You rely quite heavily on the cocoa powder to give the cookie flavour. Without it, it would of course just be a plain sugar cookie. But, that also means that the choice of cocoa powder is important.
Before diving into the cocoa powder taste test though, let’s first share the chocolate recipe I made with the cocoa powder I didn’t really like. It’s based on the recipe by Laura’s Bakery.
- 100g butter
- 150g brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 175g flour
- 25g cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Coloured candies (I used M&M's)
- Mix the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract.
- Fold in the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Mix through until you have a homogeneous slightly gooey dough. Don't mix excessively long.
- Mix in the candies.
- Take a spoon and deposit small clumps of material.
- Bake in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes.
When making the recipe, I didn’t really like it. It tasted a bit bitter and sour. Not really how I like to chocolate cookie to taste. Could that be due to the cocoa powder? Or is it the recipe itself?
Baking soda & Cookie flavour
If you add too much baking soda to any baked good, you risk it starting to taste bitter. So the first change I made to the recipe is reducing the baking soda content (there used to be double the amount of baking soda as in the recipe above). This did solve it slightly, but, there still is a strange taste.
Cocoa powder differences
Recall the post on Oreo cookies? Even though Oreo cookies might not taste like chocolate for a lot of people, it is a chocolate cookie. The black colour of Oreo cookies is the cocoa powder in the recipe. However, as we discussed in that post, this specific type of cocoa powder has been treated in such a way that it doesn’t have the taste we might expect for a cocoa powder.
The cocoa powders in your supermarket probably taste very different than the Oreo cookie cocoa powder. Nevertheless, there can still be quite a lot of differences between cocoa powders. It might be a little more sour or bitter, whichever way the cocoa powder was processed.
Cocoa powder taste test
I was never really aware of these differences until I did a cocoa powder taste test. I bought the three available cocoa powders in our supermarket and did a simple taste test. I was surprised by how easy it was to find differences between the powders though. They not only looked different (especially the colours!), they clearly tasted different as well.
I immediately recognized the flavour I didn’t really like in those chocolate cookies I made. That cocoa powder was significantly more sour and bitter than the other two. Some might like it, however, I couldn’t really appreciate it.
Taste test results
Sample 1: Krüger cocoa powder
This is the powder I used in my cookies. It is the darkest in colour and is clearly the most bitter and sour. Not my favorite. This is the only of the cocoa powder that contains a second ingredient, the E-number E501, potassium carbonate. It might well be that this carbonate has contributed to the metallic taste of my cookies.
Sample 2: Blooker cocoa powder
This is the ‘in between’ sample. It is the least sour sample, but moderately bitter. It’s the cocoa powder I used for my next batch of chocolate cookies which came out great!
Sample 3: Droste cocoa powder
It has a slightly sour taste, but is surely the least bitter of the three. I would say this cocoa powder is the mildest of the three.
How to see differences in cocoa powder on the pack?
It doesn’t really seem like to can actually. I tried to find differences apart from the ingredients, but it’s not on the pack. If your chocolate cookies turn out fine, no worries, but if you’re not happy with them, do a cocoa powder taste test as well. Simply remember which one you like best (and least) and stick to your favorite!