I've been making chocolate sponge using some Swiss hot chocolate - because I happened to have that in the cupboard. But now I've run out. So I need to go out and buy something.

So is drinking chocolate actually the best way to flavour a cake? Or is there something better I could try?

1 Answer 1


Drinking chocolate is a bad way to flavor a cake. It consists of cocoa powder mixed with sugar, and has nowhere near enough chocolate taste.

The correct way to flavor a cake is either baking chocolate (the real thing, not "fat-containing cocoa glaze"), or cocoa powder. You should choose the one to use depending on the recipe; don't just add it to a normal sponge cake recipe, both change the texture. Cocoa powder is easier to use, as it will only add starch to the cake. Baking chocolate will give you a richer texture due to the cocoa butter it contains, but finding a good recipe for it is more complicated, as the classic proportions have to be adjusted not only for the starch, but also for the fat and sugar it adds. Also, the fat it adds can't be creamed, which interferes with leavening, and it has to be melted before adding it to the cake, which requires some skill (mostly temperature control) and is something I would recommend for an intermediate rather than a beginner baker.

In short, find a good recipe which uses cocoa powder. Drinking chocolate is not only prohibitively expensive, it also gives an inferior result. After you feel more comfortable with cake baking, you can consider advancing to recipes which include baking chocolate. My personal favorite are Desaulniers' recipes, but the Gourmet magazine recipes are probably more accessible, as many of them are freely available online (try searching on Epicurious). You can also look around for other sources; I would advise against trying out random recipes off the Internet before you have gathered enough experience to be able to judge the quality of the results by just reading the recipe.

  • 2
    Also, there are two different types of cocoa powder, "Dutch" and "natural." People seem to prefer Dutch-process cocoa powder. The full results are paywalled, but they recommend Callebaut. Their runner-up is Droste.
    – derobert
    Sep 12, 2012 at 14:19
  • I actually prefer non-dutch, because I value intensity in chocolate. But this is a matter of taste. Anyway, valuable info, thank you for mentioning it.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 12, 2012 at 14:25
  • @derobert That's one very interesting link. Sep 12, 2012 at 20:22
  • Any hints on how to tell whether a given box of cocoa powder is Dutched or not? (I mean, short of buying it and tasting it.) Sep 12, 2012 at 20:32
  • @MathematicalOrchid depends on where you live. In Europe, 99% is Dutched. In America, non-Dutched is the more common type, but you seem to have a good chance of finding Dutched. There is no guarantee that the producer has written something on the box; if you see an alcaline salt in the ingredients, it is Dutched. Some may write "natural" or "unprocessed" on non-Dutched. But it is possible that you have a box without any hint.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 12, 2012 at 21:00

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