Out of Cocoa? Use Chocolate Instead!

Cocoa Substitutes
It’s happened to all of us. We’re starving, and in need of something sweet, so we come up with the brilliant plan to bake. My personal favorite is anything including chocolate, whether that’s chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, or chocolate pudding. If you’re like me (and you probably are), you can almost smell the cake before you start making it.

So you find the ingredients, start measuring, and mix them together only to find that you’re missing the most important ingredient—the cocoa! Now you just have a bowl of incomplete cake mixture, which is probably unusable. But upon opening the cupboard you do see a bag of unsweetened chocolate. Could you use that? Of course!

What’s The Difference?

Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the same ingredient, which are cocoa beans. The beans are fermented, roasted, ground, and then sent through a press that separates the cocoa butter from the powder itself. The cocoa butter is what’s used to make chocolate, and it’s just emulsified with things like powder, sugar, and milk. Unsweetened chocolate would be the same thing except not emulsified with any sweeteners.

How Does It Change The Taste?

Well, that hinges largely on what kind of dessert you’re baking. If you’re baking chocolate brownies, then it’s nice to know that cocoa powder does make them much more chewy. If you’re going to substitute chocolate in for the cocoa, then it’s going to make the brownies more solid—almost like fudge.

If you’re making chocolate cake, then the results vary. If you’re looking for more of a moist, intense flavor, then cocoa powder is going to give you that. Cakes made with actual chocolate are very temperature-sensitive. If you serve the cake cold, it will taste dry and brittle unlike the moist counterpart mentioned above. If you do decide to make cake with chocolate instead, just remember to serve it at room temperature.

Getting Down To It

Okay, so you have some unsweetened chocolate, but how much should you put in? If you’re using Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder, then the substitutions go as follows:

3 tablespoons of Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder (20 grams) = 1 ounce (30 grams) of unsweetened chocolate with 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda.

If you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder, then the substitution goes like this:

3 tablespoons of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (20 grams) = 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate (30 grams)

A Few More Hints

  • Because cocoa powder is used to replace flour in some cake recipes, just remember to add a little more flour to your cake mix.
  • If you want to use regular chocolate that’s sweetened, just understand that there is added sugar and milk to the chocolate itself, which could make the end product more sweet than usual. Take this into account when mixing the ingredients.
  • I hope we helped you steer clear of a kitchen disaster. If we made you feel a little hungry with our advice, then head over to our chocolate club section to get your fix of some delectable chocolate!



    Thomas Kuegler is a Senior Editor/Researcher with Revuezzle and originally hails from Baltimore, MD, where he received his degree in Marketing. Despite loving Baltimore-indigenous pit beef and being an avid Oriole's fan, he recently decided to take residency in Orlando, FL. In his free time he enjoys reading, watching any movie that's being shown in theaters, and hunting down opportunities to take a picture with Pluto at Magic Kingdom. In the future he aspires to be a published author and write a movie script for the ages.

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