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Dutch process cocoa

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Dutch processed cocoa
Dutch process cocoa (left) compared to natural cocoa (right)
Alternative namesDutched cocoa
Place of originNetherlands
Created byCoenraad Johannes van Houten
Main ingredientsCocoa powder, alkalizing agent

Dutch processed cocoa, Dutch cocoa, or alkalized cocoa, is cocoa solids that have been treated with an alkalizing agent to reduce the natural acidity of cocoa, giving it a less bitter taste (and darker colour) compared to "natural cocoa" extracted with the Broma process. It forms the basis for much of modern chocolate, and is used in ice cream, hot chocolate, and baking.

Alkalizing agents employed vary, but include potassium carbonate (E501), sodium carbonate (E500), and/or sodium hydroxide (E525).

Dutching greatly reduces the levels of certain phytochemicals in cocoa.

Baking chocolate, unsweetened, squares
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy922 kJ (220 kcal)
58.3 g
Dietary fiber29.8 g
13.1 g
18.1 g
Other constituentsQuantity
Water2.7 g
Caffeine78 mg
Theobromine2630 mg

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[1] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[2]


The Dutch process was developed in the early 19th century by Dutch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten, whose father Casparus was responsible for the development of the method of removing fat from cocoa beans by hydraulic press around 1828, forming the basis for cocoa powder. These developments greatly expanded the use of cocoa, and reduced the oiliness that was previously associated with cocoa.[3]


The quantity of alkalizing agent is not specified on the ingredients on cocoa powder. However, this may be figured out by comparing the brown shades between different products. Higher quantities of alkalizing agents will produce cocoa that is darker than cocoa with lower quantities.

Cooking properties[edit]

Dutch processed cocoa has a neutral pH, and is not acidic like natural cocoa, so in recipes that use sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as the leavening agent (which relies on the acidity of the cocoa to activate it), an acid must be added to the recipe, such as cream of tartar or the use of buttermilk instead of fresh milk. There is no need to add acidity when Dutch processed cocoa is used in recipes that use baking powder instead of soda for leavening.[4]

Reduction of phytochemicals[edit]


Dutch cocoa contains 3 times less caffeine:

  • 100 grams unsweetened cocoa powder processed with alkali contains 78 mg.[5]
  • 100 grams unsweetened cocoa powder without alkali contains 230 mg.[6]

Antioxidants and flavonols[edit]

Compared to other processes, Dutch process cocoa contains lower amounts of flavonols (antioxidants).[7] The effect this has on nutritional value is disputed. Professor Irmgard Bitsch of the Institut für Ernährungswissenschaft, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen claims that the reduction of antioxidants due to the process is not significant and enough polyphenols and procyanidins remain in the cocoa.[8] One study determined that 60% of natural cocoa's original antioxidants were destroyed by light dutching and 90% were destroyed by heavy dutching.[9] Natural cocoa has such high levels of antioxidants that even a 60% reduction leaves it high on the list of antioxidant-rich foods.[10]


  1. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on 27 March 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  2. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on 9 May 2024. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  3. ^ Goldstein, D. (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford Companions. Oxford University Press. p. 762-763. ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Cocoa Powder". Joyofbaking.com. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  5. ^ "FoodData Central". fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  6. ^ "FoodData Central". fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  7. ^ "Chocolate Terms". Thenibble.com. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Kakao und Schokolade: Die geheimen Gesundmacher". medizinauskunft.de. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  9. ^ "New study re-emphasizes natural cocoa powder has high antioxidant content". Eurekalert.org. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  10. ^ Crozier, S. J.; Preston, A. G.; Hurst, J. W.; Payne, M. J.; Mann, J.; Hainly, L.; Miller, D. L. (7 February 2011). "Cacao seeds are a "Super Fruit": A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products". Chemistry Central Journal. 5 (5). Chem Cent J.: 5. doi:10.1186/1752-153X-5-5. PMC 3038885. PMID 21299842.