Cocoa powder is the preferred ingredient that gives chocolate desserts their color and flavor. It is key in most chocolate cake, cookie, and brownie recipes. It also works in chocolate frosting, pudding, and ice cream. But what happens when you are craving a chocolatey snack and you are all out of cocoa powder? You don’t have any time to run to the store and start wondering if you have some things in your pantry that work as substitutions for cocoa powder.
1. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
This is the first thing you will want to reach for. Both cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate are largely made from cocoa solids. That means they will have very similar flavor components–giving you a lot of taste for a smaller amount of product. For every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, you will need 1 ounce of baking chocolate. The big difference between these two items is that baking powder omits most of the cocoa butter while baking chocolate retains more of it. So you will have to be mindful of the fat content in your recipe. For this substitution, you will want to remove a tablespoon of extra fat from the recipe for every ounce of baking chocolate that you add. You will also need to melt down the baking chocolate before adding it to a recipe, otherwise, it might not get fully incorporated.
2. Carob Powder
Ever heard of carob powder? We hadn’t until we started doing more research about cocoa powder. Carob powder comes from the pods of the carob tree. The pulp from the pods gets dried and pulverized into powder. And while the flavor of carob powder is not identical to cocoa powder, it is close enough to make a good alternative. Carob powder will look a lot like cocoa powder, but will not have the distinctive bitterness. You read that correctly, carob powder is a little sweeter, so if you use it as a substitution try taking out some of the other sweeteners from the recipe. Carob powder also does not have any of the caffeine of regular cocoa. You can use it as a 1:1 substitute for most recipes.
3. Hot Cocoa Mix
In a pinch? You could try using a hot cocoa mix as a substitute for cocoa powder. It will have the same color and a lot of the same flavor as cocoa powder. That said, most hot cocoas have additional ingredients like sweeteners, spices, or milk solids. The exact measurements for these additives will vary from brand to brand, and it is important to be mindful of this when making this substitution. In most cases, you will be able to compensate for the sweetness by reducing the amount of sweetener or sugar in your recipe.
These are the three best options if you want substitutions for cocoa powder. Sure, they will work in a pinch. Especially when your craving just will not quit! But if you truly are out of cocoa , we recommend stocking up on some of these varieties of cocoa powder from our specialty kitchen store. Cocoa powder is a staple ingredient in so many delicious treats. And always having some on hand will save you so much heartache.