I eat at least a TBSP of cocoa every day. I mix it with coffee and have been making shakes with it since the summer hit. I'm partial to Hershey's Special Dark but it's not organic and I'm sure the bean-to-package process is questionable (ingredients: cocoa). I've tried Penzey's, NOW organic, Ghirardelli, and the regular Hershey's cocoa, but the Special Dark has an intensity that I really enjoy. Any suggestions for organic or minimally processed cocoa?
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I don't have tips on specific brands, but do have an answer to help in your choice:
There are 2 types of unsweetened cacao powder to consider:
- natural (simply roasted and pulverized into powder)
- dutch processed (processed with alkali to reduce acidity and less bitter)
Dutch processing reduces flavanol content, so go with the natural if you want the maximum benefit. I prefer the bitter taste of naturally processed.Some analysis with pretty graphs and all:
- Impact of Alkalization on the Antioxidant and Flavanol Content of Commercial Cocoa Powders
- Hershey's: Impact of Dutching on Antioxidants & Cocoa Flavanols
- Google Scholar search: cocoa flavanol alkali
On brands: Finding non-dutched powder in the UK is very difficult, so I'm currently ordering many different brands from the US. Price is important (I eat a lot) so ordered here starting with the cheapest/100g:
- Ghirardelli Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
- Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder
- Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder Raw Chocolate Powder
- Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder
Up until now I've been getting by with a supply of Hershey's Natural Unsweetened brought from the USofA, but it will be gone by end of day.
trader joes brand is pretty good and cheap
Heryshey's Natural 100% cocoa all the way baby! It's both cheap and good!
Stay away from the "dutched" stuff, like Sean said, it has all the taste but none of the nutrition of real chocolate.
Do you have any "recipes" for drinking cocoa (made out of raw cocoa powder?). I've hade Cococeps (one portion bags from iHerb) with maca, cinnamon and stevia. I do have to use at least 3 droppers of stevia to make it actually taste good, and I don't think maca is the reason for that.
We use Bergenfield Natural Cocoa Powder. It is single origin and 100% cocoa (no fillers, additives, mixes, etc). It is non-alkalized, so it has all the polyphenols.
My brand is Ricoa unsweetened all-natural 100% and non-dutch processed cocoa powder.
A note on dutch-process vs. regular cocoa: the dutched stuff dissolves much better in liquids, including coffee. So if you're like me, and you're cuckoo for cocoa for the taste rather than nutritional benefits, it's the obvious choice. I also use Hershey's Special Dark, though if I could find higher-end dutch cocoa in my area, I would buy that.
Pernigotti Cocoa, the gourmet's choice :p Highly rated by Cooks Illustrated and Saveur, Amazon reviewers give it 30 5-star ratings out of 32 total ratings.
Lightly Dutch processed cocoa with vanilla mixed in, the Italian maker insists they remove less fat than other cocoa makers.
Using a coffee grinder to create "cacao brewing nibs" (less coarse nibs for adding to ground coffee) showed me that this same process creates cacao powder - just keep grinding. So, if especially tasty raw nibs are available, try making your own raw cacao powder. Technically, this does not create the further processed "cocoa powder", but should retain the raw cacao nutrition. Note: cacao powder (and cocoa powder) will clog coffee filters - just use the ground nibs.
A Cacao Festival seems to be occurring in more communities every year (and at different times of the year). These are fun events for learning about cacao nutrition and about the different cocoa powders. Not until I added fruit juice concentrate (syrup) to the Tessera recipe did I realize that cocoa powders have flavor and acidity uniqueness which affects the recipe. Depending on the recipe, some powders are much better than others.
Loving Earth Cacao is probably one of the best. It raw so retains the nutrients of the bean.
Chocolate Tessellation (chocolate so intense that “It’s not candy!” could be included in the description of this Paleo-quality recipe) was created with Ghiradelli Natural Unsweetened Cocoa, an excellent product! The recipe has not been posted online yet, but Black Cherry Tessellas is similar and includes the brief history of this symbolic offering for a Mayan 2012 "celebration of cacao".