The Fresh Loaf

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Powdered Chocolate Compared

DanAyo's picture

Powdered Chocolate Compared

Michael Wilson’s recent post of Tiramisu got a number of bakers excited and at the same time hungry. This extravagant delicacy has a number of strong and complementary flavors. One of which is unsweetened chocolate powder. I decided to venture out and try some of the more exotic powdered chocolates to see if I was missing anything. So, off to Amazon I went...

All powders were “Dutched”, except for the Hershey’s.
Cost of 1 ounce (25.3g)

Valrhona $1.70
Callebaut $0.96
Hershey’s  $0.37

My wife, neighbor (a very experienced cake baker that sells her goods), and myself had a blind home style hot chocolate taste comparison test. Nothing scientific about it, but taste was our focus.

  • Patsy, my wife liked the Hershey the best
  • The neighbor also liked Hershey’s the best, but said it took more chocolate powder to match the intensity of the other two.
  • I preferred the Valrhona and found the flavor a little more complex. Callebaut was my last choice, so Hershey's came in second.

Considering the cost of 2 of the chocolates, the test was not inexpensive. But the test settled the various qualities of powdered chocolate in my mind. Even though Valrhona took first place IMO, the cost difference can no longer be justified. It looks like the good ole USA Hershey’s chocolate get the accolades at my house.

Until the exotic chocolates have been depleted, Valrhona and Callebaut will be used on specials like Tiramisu.

Hopefully others may find benefit in this post. It cost me over $65 to find out for myself. If you do experiment for yourself, please make sure to post your findings. Taste is subjective.

Yippee's picture

I know what I like. To make my favorite hot chocolate, I also add this and this with milk.


MichaelLily's picture

I was given some Valrhona cocoa powder. For work we use Hershey’s. For unsweetened cocoa powder, I always suspected a taste difference was negligible. I know that single origin powder would have a different taste. If you ever get a chance to try some, do so! I wouldn’t pay an arm and a leg to get it online though.

Benito's picture

Nice to see a taste test of three cocoa powders Dan.  I’ve not seen Hersey’s here in Toronto, but I have to admit I haven’t looked in sometime.  One of the more common cocoa is Fry’s Premium Cocoa, it’s what I’ve always used for chocolate desserts, but I’ve never done a comparison as you have.

Bread1965's picture

Dan.. I love how your mind works on this one. I didn't think about tweaking the cocoa powder. Good idea. As Benny mentioned Fry's is common around here so that's what i've used as it's ubiquitous in this parts. I'll think about trying to find some Valhrona and Hersey's when I run out. I've actually been to Tain L'Hermitage in France and their Valhrona store. I bought chocolate there but never thought about (or remember seeing) their powdered chocolate. Good post!

DanAyo's picture

Hershey’s is pretty much the generic unsweetened chocolate powder in the US. I think I have a pretty discerning pallet, but according to my test the difference was negligible. As far as I know Valrhona and Callebaut have established reputations. They certainly aren’t cheap in the US.

pmccool's picture

I think you might have intended to say Hershey. ?


DanAyo's picture

Thanks, Paul! I’ll correct the OP

gerhard's picture

from one another quite a bit. What I like best about cocoa powder to make hot chocolate is that I control the sugar. Fry's powder is alkalized while Hershey’s isn’t, the alkalizing process is to make the powder less acidic it also seems to give it a lesser chocolate flavour. I think Callebaut makes both natural and alkalized cocoa powder. One of the other big differences in powders is the amount of cocoa butter left in the powder, cocoa butter is expensive and while it doesn’t really have a strong chocolate flavour it helps carry the flavour so it will make a big difference in taste and mouth feel.