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I found a flourless chocolate cake recipe that I want to try, it uses semisweet chocolate which I thought would have enough cocoa solids already but it calls for cocoa powder, why is this?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can't add too much chocolate into a cake, as you'll end up adding too much fat, which will change how the cake sets up. They likely wanted more chocolate flavor than what they felt they could get from chocolate alone, and so opted to add cocoa powder as well.

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Just adding the note that chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter (the fat that Joe refers to). Cocoa acts as a dry ingredient in baking...chocolate increases the fat, which increases the tenderness of the crumb, but hinders the structure. Being a flourless cake, you are already "low on structure" because of no wheat protein, so anything that would decrease it further could cause you to end up with a luscious chocolate pudding, but not something that would seem like cake. –  Doug Johnson-Cookloose Dec 11 '10 at 17:36
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