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What is Dutch Process Chocolate?

Tiffany Manley
Tiffany Manley

Dutch process chocolate, also known as Dutched chocolate, is created by adding alkali to natural cocoa powder. The alkali contained in the chocolate smooths out the flavor, which yields a more mild and dark cocoa. Some people believe that baking with Dutch process chocolate as opposed to natural cocoa produces a different end result, because the alkalinity might affect the leaven in the recipe.

The Dutch process was created by Coenraad Johannes van Houten, a Dutch chocolatier. Van Houten’s father is believed to have invented the original process of removing cocoa fat from ground cacao beans by using a hydraulic press. Many people believe that the advances these two made transformed the way chocolate has been used.

Chocolate is derived from ground up cocoa beans.
Chocolate is derived from ground up cocoa beans.

Natural cocoa powder generally is created by using the Broma process. This method removes cocoa butter from cacao beans that have been ground, leaving behind a substance that can be turned into cocoa powder. The Broma process generates a natural cocoa powder, which is slightly bitter, reddish in color and strong in chocolate flavor.

Dutch process chocolate has been mixed with alkali, which changes its properties to a certain degree. After the cocoa has been Dutched, much of the bitterness has dissipated, the flavor is milder, and the color is darker than that of its natural counterpart. Many people believe this chocolate produces a better tasting baked good that has a more appealing, deep dark chocolate color. In addition, it contains less cocoa butter, meaning that it is more soluble in various liquids.

Someone who is baking should note whether a recipe calls for natural cocoa powder or Dutch process chocolate. Some recipes might be altered quite a bit by using the incorrect cocoa. Many cocoas are labeled as Dutch process but are actually a mixture of natural and Dutched chocolate, so they are not a true Dutch process chocolate. It is wise for an individual to check the ingredient listing on Dutch process cocoa to make sure that an alkali substance is listed.

At times, finding true Dutched chocolate might be difficult. If Dutch process chocolate is needed but unavailable, a suitable substitute can be made by adding a small amount of baking soda to natural cocoa powder. Similarly, when Dutch processed cocoa is the only type available but natural cocoa is needed, cream of tartar can be added to produce a Dutch processed substitute. Many people believe that it is unnecessary to take these steps, because generally, the two cocoas can be used interchangeably.

Discussion Comments


@alisha-- I don't want my post to sound like an advertisement, so I won't mention the brand. But there was a popular American cocoa and chocolate brand that used to make Dutched cocoa. It was available everywhere and it was quite good. I have no idea why they discontinued it but now they make a dark, unsweetened cocoa powder that is a mix of Dutched and natural non-alkalized cocoa powder. But it doesn't replace their Dutched cocoa. I tried using the new product in place of Dutched cocoa in a recipe and it came out too bitter.

If you don't mind shopping online, look for Dutched cocoa at online stores. I'm sure you can find a bulk product that's affordable. If you can get it from Europe, it will be even better. From my experience, the best Dutched cocoa and chocolate are still made in Europe.


I don't understand why it's so difficult to find Dutched chocolate. I went to three different stores today and only found one Dutched chocolate and it was too expensive so I couldn't get it.

Do we have any chocolatiers or bakers here? Where do you get your Dutch cocoa powder?


I honestly don't know what is better -- Dutch process chocolate or natural cocoa powder. I personally like the mild flavor of Dutch process chocolate. Natural cocoa powder is too bitter and requires more sugar while baking. But I've also heard that Dutch process chocolate is low in nutrients and antioxidants because the alkaline processing removes them. So I have to choose between taste and health and pick one.

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    • Chocolate is derived from ground up cocoa beans.
      By: Jiri Hera
      Chocolate is derived from ground up cocoa beans.