My daughter says cocoa is not chocolate. I've always believed that cocoa is chocolate, or part of chocolate, or whatever makes chocolate. I'm confused.

So, if I make brownies with cocoa powder only, are they still chocolate brownies?

2 Answers 2


Cocoa is a powder made from roasted and ground cacao beans. The beans are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, cracked into nibs and then pressed to remove much of their butter. The remaining cocoa liquor is dried and ground into unsweetened cocoa powder. This results in what is known as natural cocoa powder.

Dutch process cocoa powder begins with beans that have been washed in potassium carbonate, which neutralizes their acidity. This makes the powder darker, it alters the flavor, and increases solubility.

Chocolate is made using the same process, but the cocoa butter remains. This results in unsweetened chocolate. Of course, sugar is added to the sweetened varieties. The percentage of cocoa bean indicates the bitterness level of the chocolate. Chocolate can also have dairy added (milk chocolate).

So, cocoa is a raw product. It is use to make cocoa powder and chocolate. There are brownie recipes that include chocolate, recipes that only use cocoa powder, and those that use both. You'll have to determine into which category your brownies fall.

  • So what are the benefits (or uses) of cocoa powder over chocolate powders?
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 22:48
  • Hi. It's better to search the site, then post a new question, rather than add questions to your original query. See this, for example: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/25139/…
    – moscafj
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 11:44

Chocolate is made with cocoa solids (with the exception of white chocolate) cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla, often (but not always) with milk as well.

Cocoa powder is the cocoa solids in powdered form.

Cocoa butter gives chocolate its melt in the mouth texture, but it also creates a fatty substance floating on top of drinking chocolate if it's there. The Dutch Press was invented to resolve that as well as paving the way to the chocolate bar coming about.

The two are certainly not interchangeable, because recipes that call for chocolate have been formulated with typical sugar and fat content of chocolate in mind. Beyond that, I'd say it's up to personal interpretation. I find cakes made with just cocoa powder are not as luxurious as cakes made with melted chocolate personally.

  • Can you make hot cocoa (like chocolate milk) with it, or will something be missing?
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 6:14
  • I can't give a comparison from experience there, as I've always had instant hot chocolate.
    – Sam Lee
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 7:57
  • @user3169 you can definitely make a hot, chocolatey drink with cocoa powder, but it will not be the same as one made with chocolate because of the lack of the fats such as cocoa butter. That does not mean that it can't be delicious though. My parents have certainly drunk a lot of it over the years! Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 13:52

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