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What?! Hershey's beat Scharffen Berger?!!

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

So I'm looking up reviews for cocoa powders and stumble upon this. Apparently in a Cooks Illustrated test Hershey's natural cocoa beat all but one of the fancy cocoas (both natural and dutch) that a lot of CC'ers laud in the threads  like Droste and Scharffen Berger. I tried to compare Hershey's natural with Penzeys natural and honestly couldn't tell much of a difference. Have you found a huge difference between different cocoas in your cakes?

 

http://bakingbites.com/2012/10/cooks-illustrated-rates-supermarket-cocoa-powders/

post #2 of 42
I have found a HUGE difference in cocoas...
(I've posted about it before, so forgive my repetitiveness for anyone who's heard this already)
 
I made 6" rounds using the altered Hershey Chocolate Cake recipe...(sour cream instead of milk, coffee instead of water, etc.)
 
The cocoas I used were regular Hershey, Special Dark Hershey, Ghirardelli, ScharffenBerger, King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, and King Arthur Bensdorp Cocoa...
 
I wouldn't use either of the Hershey's ever again for chocolate cake.
The others were good, better than Hershey for sure, but...
The hands-down winner was King Arthur's Bensdorp - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/bensdorp-dutch-process-cocoa-16-oz
 
I've since tested it against Valrhona...and although Valrhona smelled the best of all the cocoas, it didn't beat Bensdorp...

In fact, for me, I detected the slightest bitter after-taste w/ everything I made using Valrhona.
post #3 of 42

I use Hershey's the majority of the time.  For dutch process, I use King Arthur's.  Some of the others haven't proved to me to be any better for the money and since I'm just a hobby baker, I don't spend the extra for so little difference.  I like the Cook's Illustrated tests.  It's nice to know someone is out there testing these things for us.

post #4 of 42

Hershey's is a great product.  They can beat the others in cost because of volume.  They've been doing it forever and know their stuff.

 

That said, chocolate is like wine.  There are flavor differences between the brands.  But for the most part, they are all pretty good.  Some may strike your fancy in a particular cake or frosting or hot chocolate.  However, I personally have never used one of these brands in a cake or frosting and thought that it wasn't very good, either chocolate or cocoa.  They are often subtle differences.

 

I only avoid generic brands since their only concern is cost - quality may be lacking.

post #5 of 42

I've found like so much in baking, it really depends on personal taste.  My husband loves dark almost bitter chocolate, so anything I make with a high quality chocolate is hands down better than hersheys, even their dark chocolate powder.  I've found the general public doesn't necessarily appreciate the difference between something like Ghiradelli and Valhrona, but they do taste the difference between Hershey's and Ghiradelli, so that's what I use.  The US in general seems to prefer a sweeter more mild chocolate, which is why I think Hershey's ends up being so popular.

post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlourPots View Post

I have found a HUGE difference in cocoas...
(I've posted about it before, so forgive my repetitiveness for anyone who's heard this already)
 
I made 6" rounds using the altered Hershey Chocolate Cake recipe...(sour cream instead of milk, coffee instead of water, etc.)
 
The cocoas I used were regular Hershey, Special Dark Hershey, Ghirardelli, ScharffenBerger, King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, and King Arthur Bensdorp Cocoa...
 
I wouldn't use either of the Hershey's ever again for chocolate cake.
The others were good, better than Hershey for sure, but...
The hands-down winner was King Arthur's Bensdorp - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/bensdorp-dutch-process-cocoa-16-oz
 
I've since tested it against Valrhona...and although Valrhona smelled the best of all the cocoas, it didn't beat Bensdorp...

In fact, for me, I detected the slightest bitter after-taste w/ everything I made using Valrhona.

 

Wow.  I use Valrhona all the time and never had a bitter after taste.  I'll have to check into Bensdorp cause I am always trying cocoas I've never used before.

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I love what I do and do what I love

https://www.facebook.com/JeanneWinslowCakeDesign

Reply
post #7 of 42
We use Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder (mix of regular and dutch process) and it works very well.
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post

We use Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder (mix of regular and dutch process) and it works very well.

 

I just started using this myself. because I wanted a cake with a really dark appearance and it worked beautifully, and i found the taste to be smooth and rich. I personally don't use more expensive chocolate for things that are going to be mixed with a lot of other ingredients, because I don't find that it changes the taste much. However, if it's the main ingredient, I like to use Ghirardelli, because I live in California, especially in my buttercream and chocolate chip cookies or double dark chocolate cake. 

post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlourPots View Post

I have found a HUGE difference in cocoas...
(I've posted about it before, so forgive my repetitiveness for anyone who's heard this already)
 
I made 6" rounds using the altered Hershey Chocolate Cake recipe...(sour cream instead of milk, coffee instead of water, etc.)
 
The cocoas I used were regular Hershey, Special Dark Hershey, Ghirardelli, ScharffenBerger, King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, and King Arthur Bensdorp Cocoa...
 
I wouldn't use either of the Hershey's ever again for chocolate cake.
The others were good, better than Hershey for sure, but...
The hands-down winner was King Arthur's Bensdorp - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/bensdorp-dutch-process-cocoa-16-oz
 
I've since tested it against Valrhona...and although Valrhona smelled the best of all the cocoas, it didn't beat Bensdorp...

In fact, for me, I detected the slightest bitter after-taste w/ everything I made using Valrhona.

So when you compared these cocoas did you adjust the leavening to account for the difference between Dutch vs Natural?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post

We use Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder (mix of regular and dutch process) and it works very well.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ellavanilla View Post

 

I just started using this myself. because I wanted a cake with a really dark appearance and it worked beautifully, and i found the taste to be smooth and rich. I personally don't use more expensive chocolate for things that are going to be mixed with a lot of other ingredients, because I don't find that it changes the taste much. However, if it's the main ingredient, I like to use Ghirardelli, because I live in California, especially in my buttercream and chocolate chip cookies or double dark chocolate cake. 

Jason and Ellavanilla, did you guys use recipes specific to dutch process cocoa or just substitute Hershey's Special Dark 1 for 1 in recipes calling for natural cocoa?

post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea View Post

Jason and Ellavanilla, did you guys use recipes specific to dutch process cocoa or just substitute Hershey's Special Dark 1 for 1 in recipes calling for natural cocoa?

We used the Special Dark as if it was dutch process cocoa. The color is deeper and the chocolate taste is stronger but otherwise it works the same as the dutch process.
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 

Okay. Thanks Jason.

post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


We used the Special Dark as if it was dutch process cocoa. The color is deeper and the chocolate taste is stronger but otherwise it works the same as the dutch process.

 

 

same. 

post #13 of 42

i like e.guittard cocoa rouge for my cocoa for basic cakes.  i will go all Valrhona sometimes, but will also blend the two for a bit of cost savings (half and half).  I like the slightly bitter note that the straight Valrhona offers and it works well with some fillings better than others.  I don't use a natural cocoa and will make compensations for recipes that call for natural cocoa by adding an extra acid to the recipe.  I also like Cacao Barry Extra Brute but i find that the Cocoa Rouge is comparable and at a better price with less of a travel footprint.  

post #14 of 42

vgcea...absolutely not...didn't even know I was supposed to, to be honest.

post #15 of 42

The recipe and method really makes a big difference, so I don't really love seeing blanket comparisons without seeing more details about the recipe used.  I've made many chocolate cake recipes... butter, oil, chiffon, pound, sponge, biscut etc, all using Guittard and the intensity and actual notes of the chocolate was different in each one.  That tells me it's not the chocolate, it's how one uses the chocolate.

 

My go-to Devil's food cake is an oil-based recipe that calls for blooming the chocolate.  It's rich, has a deep color and flavor, and tastes like a dark chocolate brownie - but it's a fluffy cake.  

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