Guide to Black Cocoa Powder

Have you ever wondered how to get a beautiful dark brown or even black color to your cakes, cupcakes or cookies? We’re talking all about black cocoa powder today. Read about when and how to use it!

difference between cocoa powder title image

What is black cocoa powder?

Black cocoa powder is a highly processed form of cocoa powder. It is ultra-dutch processed, meaning it is treated with an alkaline solution to reduce acidity. It is smooth and super dark. Much darker than light brown natural cocoa powder (which is not as processed). (read more about this process here

What is black cocoa powder used for?

Black cocoa powder is used most often for presentation. If you want a cake, cookies or other baked good that are more black than brown, this is for you!

Think of:

What is really great about black cocoa is that it won’t turn your mouth crazy colors after you eat it. You’ll get a gorgeously dark color without a ton of food color.

regular vs black cocoa powder

Can I substitute black cocoa powder in place of regular cocoa powder?

If your recipe calls for less than ¾ cup of cocoa powder, you can usually do an even exchange without any issues.

A few things to remember:

  • Black cocoa powder has almost no fat. This can cause your baked goods to be drier. If you are afraid this will happen, maybe add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yogurt to add some fat to your baked goods.
  • Black cocoa powder will not react with baking soda. Because of the dutch processing, it will not work with baking soda to make your cake rise. If your recipe has more than ¾ cup of cocoa powder, you’ll want to help give rise to your cake by adding baking powder. Start with 1 teaspoon and add up to 2 teaspoons if you need to.
difference in cocoa powders on half frosted cakes

Can I use black cocoa powder in frosting?

Yes! If you need a black frosting (one that doesn’t turn your mouth weird colors), you can make a chocolate frosting and use this black cocoa powder in place of the regular cocoa powder. Then add black food gel coloring to get the exact black color you want. Starting with the dark brown frosting will allow you to use way less food color than if you start with white

Does black cocoa powder taste different?

Black cocoa powder does taste differently than regular cocoa powder. It is a strong flavor, but the dutch process prevents it from being bitter. You’ll find that it doesn’t taste as “chocolately” as regular cocoa powder.

cake with regular cooca powder

How much black cocoa powder should I use?

Because black cocoa powder is so black, you don’t need to replace all of the regular cocoa powder in a recipe with the black powder. We love the look of using half black powder and half regular powder. It gives a deep, dark brown color to the cake. Plus, you still have some of that delicious chocolate flavor from the regular cocoa powder.

cake with half cocoa powder

Where to Buy Black Cocoa Powder

We have a hard time finding black cocoa powder in grocery stores. Because of that, we buy it on Amazon. We’ve bought both the King Arthur brand and The Cocoa Trader brand.

cake with Black Cocoa Powder

Do I have to sift cocoa powder?

Because cocoa powder is so finely textured, it can clump. While those clumps may be tiny, they may not come out when you mix up a batter. That’s why it is recommended that you sift cocoa powder before adding it into your cake batter.

How do you store cocoa powder?

Store cocoa powder in a sealed container in cool, dry place. Can you store it in the fridge or freezer? These are both quite high in humidity, so only store it in the fridge if you have the package sealed really well.

unfrosted chocolate cakes

Can I dust a pan with cocoa powder instead of flour?

Yes! If you are making a chocolate cake, this is a GREAT way to prevent flour buildup on the top of the cakes. Grease the cake pans with shortening, then dust them with cocoa powder just as you would cakes. 

Recipes to Use With Black Cocoa Powder

bowls of different cocoa powders

About Julie Clark

We are Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee – a mother and daughter team sharing with you the best cakes to satisfy any need or sweet craving that you may have. Welcome to our family’s kitchen!

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I loved your article on Black Cocoa Powder. I’m looking forward to trying it as soon as I can find it.. Thank you so much.

I was hoping there wasn’t too much a difference between them. I just wanted to know exactly what dark cocoa powder was. Thanks so much for this article. It was very informative and straight to the point.

Hi – When I use dutch or dark cocoa powder in a recipe, do I need to change the amount of sugar in the recipe as well? Do I increase/decrease the quantity depending on the kind of cocoa powder I am using?

Would Hersey’s Special Dark be considered the same as black cocoa?

Any idea where to buy fair trade black cocoa powder?

Was there a difference between King Arthur Black Cocoa and The Cocoa Trader black cocoa?

Hi, what is this exact recipe you’ve used here? Would like to try!