Cocoa is a favorite drink of children and adults. It is loved for its pleasant aroma and special chocolate flavor. In addition to the sweet nostalgia of childhood, this drink brings significant benefits to the body. The right semi-finished product has unique healing properties. How to choose natural cocoa powder, to understand the quality, to navigate in modern brands, let’s try to learn right now.
Production and composition
The product is made from the seeds inside the fruit of the chocolate tree. The seeds are extracted, dried, and then roasted. After roasting, the seeds are crushed into small pieces. The grits are heated and passed through millstones. Next, the oil is extracted, and then the beans are pressed. From this cake by grinding “into dust” and make familiar to all semi-finished product.
Cocoa powder should not contain anything other than naturally ground cocoa beans. The presence of any impurities is a sign of poor quality.
Types of cocoa
Factories produce the product in two forms:
- grated cocoa.
- cocoa powder.
It is simply ground by millstones (rollers) and the seeds are used to grind the chocolate tree. All vitamins and fatty acids are preserved in the raw material. Such semi-finished product is used in the manufacture of luxury chocolate;
Grinding is made after the beans are pressed and the natural oils are partially extracted from them. The quality of the finished product depends on what proportion of fat is left in the squeeze.
The fat component in this case is the most valuable and the most expensive. This is the main difference between grated cocoa and cocoa powder.
- Don’t miss: Cocoa powder: health benefits and harms
Grated cocoa contains a full range of natural fats and other beneficial components. It is times superior to powder in taste, quality and benefits.
What to base your choice on
The first thing to note is that instant powder or granules have nothing to do with the natural mixture. Real cocoa is not diluted with water or milk, it must be boiled. Let’s tell you about some more important things to pay attention to when choosing.
The only thing we have access to in the store is the packaging. The label “unalkalized” is a good plus in favor of the product. It means that the powder has not been chemically treated to enhance the color and smell. The truthfulness of the information should also be checked in the “composition” section. Any dyes, flavorings – a reason to refuse to buy this product. The next important point is the fat content.
Choose cocoa with at least 12% fat content. A high percentage of natural oils is an indicator of its nutritional value and health benefits.
- This is interesting: How much caffeine is in cocoa
Packaging should be reliable. A leaky pack is a violation of storage conditions. By the way, cocoa also has an expiration date. The best cocoa powder with an exceptionally natural composition is stored for only 6 months.
When you open the packet (jar), you should feel a pleasant chocolate aroma. The color of the powder should be naturally brown, the structure – homogeneous. If you find lumps in the cocoa, it is spoiled due to improper storage. A small test: take a small amount of the mixture, rub it with two fingers. The quality product should leave a brown mark on your skin with an oily sheen.
The finished drink should also have no extraneous odor and flavor, only chocolate notes. If a brown, greasy residue remains on the cup after drinking, you’re in luck.
Top 5 Best Brands
It’s wise to choose products from trusted brands. Our ranking of the best cocoa powder will help you avoid disappointment with your purchase.
A Minsk company with a retro name tops many rankings. Kommunarka is positioned as a natural, safe product. It is made from selected cocoa beans grown without pesticides, their composition is 99,98%. That’s what the factory claims. According to the results of an independent expert review, all the indicators declared by the manufacturer are true. The only exception was the fat content: it turned out to be higher than the specified 12%.
- Read also: How to make cocoa from powder
However, after studying the reviews, I could not put the brand at the head of the top. Fans of “Kommunarka” claim that the quality has deteriorated somewhat. The taste began to reek of cheap soy chocolate, and for the desired consistency of the drink, the dose of powder has to be doubled. In addition, the quality is reduced by the presence of flavoring, identical to vanillin. The price for 150 grams is affordable – about 90 p.
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4. Golden Label
The famous Russian cocoa powder from the Krasny Oktyabr factory is still going strong. The drink has a stable natural taste, aroma and color. Fat content of 15% is an excellent indicator. The blend is ideal for pastry recipes. The democratic price tag (less than 100 p. per 100 g) also makes you happy.
The disadvantages include uncomfortable cardboard box, adding flavoring. Cocoa has to immediately pour over to use comfortably. Because of the popularity of the brand on the shelves there is a lot of counterfeit, so it is better to buy in trusted stores.
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To tell the difference between fakes, look closely at the pack. Blurred or light-colored fonts; colored or crooked printing of terms; text errors – all are signs of counterfeit.
The brand Russia Generous Soul, the author of this position, is famous for chocolate of unparalleled quality. Their cocoa is also, in fact, very tasty. Those who like strong coffee and dark chocolate will love it. For others, it would be better to soften the bitterness with milk or cream. The structure of the mixture is homogeneous, you do not feel squeaky grains.
Stylish black and gold pack (88 p. per 100 grams) is equipped with a lock for closing. On the back there are recipes and, of course, the composition. And here’s where there is a bit of a minus. Roskontrol identified the brand as “goods with remarks” because of the detection of two pesticides. In terms of total ash and active acidity, the cocoa “Russian” corresponds to alkalized powder.
The discrepancies between the labeling and the actual composition are not critical. For example, the proportion of fat is 10-15% higher than the printed value. This does not quite meet the standard of “reduced-fat cocoa powder,” as the well-known brand presents itself. Nevertheless, a lot of popular love has put the brand in the top five.
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2. Royal Forest
The Colombian company is known for using a unique technology in the production of cocoa. The processing retains the valuable properties of the elite Criollo beans. Royal Forest is a drink with a thick consistency and fantastic flavor characteristics. The powder contains no sugar, preservatives or other additives.
The only disadvantage is the cost. One has to pay 217 rubles for 100 g of the gift of the “royal forests”. But this is probably how much natural cocoa made from selected raw materials should cost. A pleasant bonus is three original recipes from the factory inside the packet.
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1. Theobroma “Food of the Gods.”
Finally, the healthiest, 100% natural grated cocoa. It will be the perfect ingredient for fancy chocolate desserts, gourmet cocktails. By the way, interesting recipes are right on the back of the box. Mass fraction of Theobroma fats is very high – 50%. But for confectionery and hot chocolate, it is better to buy this type of cocoa. This delicacy from Côte d’Ivoire has a recognizable tartness and bitterness – quite natural characteristics for cocoa.
The average price for 250 grams is 350 rubles. This is not cheap, but you should understand that this is 250 grams of the healthiest mixture of natural origin. Ordinary stores “Food of the Gods” do not sell. But you can find a beige-brown box on the shelves of large grocery stores or spice stores.
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