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ocoa powder is available in 2 forms: natural cocoa (also called non-alkalized) and Dutch Process. The most important difference between the two types of cocoa powder is that they vary in acidity, which means they cannot be substituted for one another in baking recipes. Natural cocoa is more acidic than Dutch Process, which means it reacts more with other ingredients (like baking soda). The second difference between the two varieties is flavor. Natural cocoa has a dark, rich, and slightly tangy flavor. Dutch Process cocoa is more mellow, smooth and mild. A side effect of the Dutch Process and the lower acidity/reactivity of the cocoa powder means Dutch Process has less "static cling" and as a result it incorporates into liquids more easily and with less tendency to clump.

Editor's Picks
From Julie
Java on Sherman (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho), Java on Sherman/Bowl of Soul
A couple of times a year, my family makes its way from Washington to Montana to visit the grandparents. No matter what time of the day, we always make a point to stop at Java on Sherman in Coeur D'Alene, ID for a Bowl of Soul. The Bowl of Soul is Java's signature espresso drink and while they won't divulge the ingredients for their secret recipe you can taste dark chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, and maybe a hint of nutmeg. It reminds me of a mocha that uses Mexican chocolate. Topped with freshly whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, this drink always helps to keep us going on our long journey. In addition to the Bowl of Soul, Java serves other coffee drinks

that use fair-trade and certified organic coffee along with freshly made pastries and generously sized muffins.
Bowl of Soul
Bowl of Soul, image courtesy of Java on Sherman.

Image courtesy of Julie Armstrong Holetz.

From Josi
The Chocolate Source (Online storefront), Chocolate Source
I consider them the best source for baking and candy-making chocolate because they carry high quality chocolate at really great prices (Valrhona baking feves for less than $12/lb!). I've purchased from them many times, so I can vouch for their ability to ship chocolate in warmer weather and have it reach me in perfect condition (it's an extra $5 for ice-packs, and it is well worth it).
I also love the Cafe Tasse and Dolfin bars they carry, as I think everything is better dipped in chocolate. Among the selections are: orange/black pepper, Earl Grey tea, apples/hazelnuts/sugarcane. One of my personal favorites is dark chocolate/lemon/ginger - it's rich and bright and earthy and sweet and spicy all at once. I savor each bite and let it roll all over my tongue so every taste bud gets involved. Ahhh, chocolate!

Penzey's Spices (Various Locations), Penzey's Spices
The original Penzey's is in Wisconsin, and I've been getting my spices from one of their Chicago-area storefronts for almost 20 years. They offer both natural (non-alkalized) and Dutch process (alkalized) cocoa at very reasonable prices. I recommend getting a 1lb bag of each variety. As long as you keep it in an air-tight container, it stays fresh for months.

Taking One For The Team - Taste of Thailand Chocolate Challenge
- from Julie
Itís difficult to spend months thinking and talking about cocoa without being tempted to enjoy it. In order to immerse myself in the subject, purely in the name of science of course, I hit the stores in search of the latest and greatest in premium chocolate bars. Intrigued by the idea of combining chocolate with more exotic flavors, I found two bars that shared a common list of ingredients and decided to give them a taste test.
Vosges Chocolate Bar

Vosges Haut Chocolat Naga
$7.50 for a 3 ounce bar, Vosges Chocolate

Contains: Deep milk chocolate (41% cocoa), sweet Indian curry, and coconut

Opening the wrapper you see the milk chocolate dotted with flecks of coconut. Rubbing your finger across the bar releases the aroma of sweet curry powder, milk chocolate, and a subtle aroma of coconut.

Once you bite into the bar, the first thing you taste is smooth milk chocolate, which lingers for a few seconds. As it begins to melt, the milk chocolate combines with a pleasantly sweet curry flavor. Finally, the addition of toasted coconut wends itís way into the flavor presentation.

Theo Chocolate Bar
Theo Curry Coconut
$3.25 for a 2 ounce bar, Theo Chocolate

Contains: Certified organic and fair trade milk Chocolate (40% cocoa), curry, and toasted coconut

When you open the wrapper you can see yellow stains of curry powder in the creases of the foil and flecks of coconut embedded in the chocolate. Rubbing your finger across the bar, releases a strong whiff of piquant curry powder that dominates the aroma of milk chocolate and coconut.

Bite into the chocolate and the first thing you taste is a spicy curry flavor. The spiciness grows for a couple of seconds then begins to wane by the addition of the smooth milk chocolate. Finally, the flavors meld and you taste the chewy, toasted coconut.

I thought the two chocolate bars would be easy to compare as their ingredient list is similar, but I was surprised to find that they were very different in taste Ė the Vosges was more subtle in flavor and the Theo more spirited.

Me and my fellow tasters preferred the Theo Coconut Curry bar over the Vosges Naga Bar after repeated tastings. The Theo bar is livelier, with a strong spicy curry taste that will awaken your senses. But, it's not for everyone. If you're in the mood for subtle hints of curry and coconut enrobed in a more dominant milk chocolate flavor choose the Vosges Haut-Chocolate Naga instead.

Both of these bars are available at some gourmet and natural food stores, like Whole Foods and PCC, or directly from their website. Delicious as it is, the only thing keeping the Vosges Naga bar from being more than a luxury indulgence, or given as a gift, is the price. While the Theo brand is less expensive by the ounce, the Vosges Haut-Chocolat line of exotic flavors is available in smaller-sized tasting bars (visit the Vosges website to find gourmet retailers near you).
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There is never enough chocolate or articles about chocolate...My current favorite indulgence involves dark chocolate and chipole chili!
- Sandra T, 2010-03-26 06:47:21

Oooh, I am in the mood for chocolate now!! Thank you for sharing!
- Sarah M, 2010-03-09 11:34:18

I have to say that the Penzy's Natural Cocoa Powder is the bestest bestest BEST cocoa powder EVER! The high fat content just adds so much oomph that makes all others pale in comparison. I was a convert from Dagoba and have never looked back. And the price... how can you possibly even compare?!?
- CelticMommy, 2010-03-09 03:07:15

I have been lusting over the Vosges catalogs for a couple years now... I'm actually not a huge chocolate enthusiast but I LOVE exotic truffles. and I'm also a huge lover of curry! I think it's been discontinued but Vosges used to have a Naga cookie that was to die for. It inspired me to make up a recipe for Naga cake/bars with a chocolate ganache frosting... I need to dig up that recipe...
- Amy Maxwell, 2010-03-08 05:32:29

Although we live in NYC, we go to Coeur D'Alene every summer and Java on Sherman is a must-stop. Love the chocolate theme in this mag since chocolate is a daily part of my life. -Nancy H
- Nancy H, 2010-03-02 03:33:03

my earliest childhood memories include my grandfather in the back of the store, grating a cocoa stick into a pot, melting it, adding stuff and making me hot cocoa. I've rarely had anything as good, but i approach it when i've made my own cocoa from scratch using natural cocoa. An idea what the stick form is/was? I'm in search of it....
- Akua H, 2010-03-01 11:20:20

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