I recently read an article on the website Sheknows.com titled “The Best Cocoa on Amazon.” Surprisingly, the article only mentioned three different brands of cocoa powder: Rochelle cocoa, Nestle Toll House cocoa and Hershey’s cocoa. My quick search on Amazon revealed 286 results for “unsweetened cocoa powder!” Based on my 50 plus years of baking experience, I would not put the Nestle or the Hershey’s cocoa powder in my top three. I have no experience with Rochelle, but I intend to purchase a bag and try it.
As a farm boy in Iowa, we only had Hershey’s cocoa. I do not recall any other brands. I have tried about 25 different types of cocoa in my baking career. I have two favorites and these are the World’s Best Cocoa Powders, according to the Chocolate Savant.
The first is “Guittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder.” www.guittard.com This cocoa powder is a dutch-processed cocoa powder that has undergone the process of “dutching” or “alkalizing.” Alkalizing neutralizes the acid in the cocoa and typically results in a cocoa powder that is darker in color with a richer and deeper flavor. Unlike the Guittard Cocoa Rouge, the cocoa powders from Hershey’s and Nestle are natural powders and are not alkalized.
The Guittard Cocoa Rouge has a very unique reddish-brown color. I prefer the Cocoa Rouge because it has complex bitter chocolate tasting notes. I find that when I bake with the Cocoa Rouge, it yields cakes, cookies and brownies that have an intense deep chocolate flavor that is reminiscent of a good expresso. The Cocoa Rouge is my “go to” cocoa powder for my Browned Butter Hazelnut Brownies. Bon Appetit also found the Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder to be the best cocoa powder for baking. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/best-cocoa-powder. So, my opinion does have some support.
Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder can be purchased in specialty stores like Cost Plus Imports, in natural foods supermarkets like Sprouts and on Amazon. The cocoa powder is well-known among chocolate lovers. The other cocoa powder that is also one of the best cocoa powders in the world is not as well-known; perhaps because it comes from Vietnam. The cocoa powder is called Provisions Marou Cacao Powder. Marou is a bean to bar chocolate maker that recently launched a single-origin cocoa powder. www.marouchocolate.com
The Marou cocoa powder is a pure “non-alkalized” cocoa powder. Its color is a light brown – markedly different from the Guittard Cocoa Rouge. The taste is also markedly different. It has a nutty, earthy, slightly sweet flavor with subtle cinnamon notes. Whereas I would characterize the Guittard Cocoa Rouge as bold and beautiful, I would characterize the Marou cocoa powder as smooth, silky and subtle. Marou cocoa powder can also be purchased on Amazon as well as from specialty chocolate retailers like Caputo’s Markets, www.caputos.com
I took the opportunity to make Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe during the COVID lockdown, using four different types of cocoa powder: Guittard Jersey, Guittard Perfection, Guittard Cocoa Rouge and the Marou. The photos of the bouchons show the difference in color of the Marou cocoa powder as compared to the other powders. The flavors are so different.
I enjoy experimenting with different types of cocoa powders in my baking. In my opinion, many more bean to bar chocolate makers like Marou will start producing single-origin cocoa powders that will provide bakers the opportunity to bring a variety of chocolate flavors to their baked goods. If you have a cocoa powder experience that you would like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get it posted so that other chocolate lovers can benefit from your experience.