Use cocoa powder to make chocolate cake and frosting.

Simple Baking Ideas With Cocoa Powder

by Julie Christensen

Consider cocoa powder a staple in your pantry, as essential as baking powder and sugar. Less costly than chocolate chips or baker's chocolate, cocoa powder adds a rich, chocolatey taste to any baked good. Natural cocoa powder has a light color and acidic chocolate taste. Dutch cocoa, which has been processed with an alkali, has a darker color and mellower flavor. In most cases, natural cocoa works best in baked goods because it can be used with baking soda. If you're a true chocolaholic, though, keep both types on hand.

1. Cookies

The next time you're craving a rich, chocolatey treat, simply add a bit of cocoa to a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe. Between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of cocoa powder will do. Suddenly, the old recipe becomes a double-chocolate cookie, sure to please both kids and adults alike. It's hard to tell when these cookies are done because of their deep brown color. Depending on your oven, bake them for about eight minutes, but don't overdo it. They should be slightly gooey when you take them from the oven.

2. Lava Cake

Food in the 1970s was all about comfort -- tater tot casserole, Jello salads and lava cake. There's probably no need to bring back the tater tot casserole, but lava cake is one worth saving. This simple cake starts with a basic cake batter made from scratch or a mix. Combine brown sugar, cocoa powder and boiling water, and pour the mixture over the cake batter in the pan. As the cake bakes, it rises. Underneath lies a decadent layer of rich, fudgy pudding. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, this simple dessert is comforting and delicious. You can even make it in a slow-cooker.

3. Refrigerator Cookies

The next time you make a cookie that calls for rolling balls of dough in sugar before baking, mix a little cocoa powder with the sugar. Cocoa powder gives even the simplest cookie a rich, sophisticated flavor. Roll ginger cookies, sugar cookies or peppermint cookies in the chocolate-tinged sugar .

4. Pudding

Boxed pudding has its place, but if you've never had homemade pudding, you're in for a treat. Homemade pudding is nothing more than milk, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, cocoa powder and butter gently cooked to thick, creamy perfection. You can refrigerate it for later, but it's highly satisfying eaten warm. Whisk some chocolate chips and whipped cream into the hot confection to make it even better.

5. Truffles

Truffles are inexplicably expensive to purchase, but a snap to make. Whip up a batch in less than 10 minutes, simply by combining baker's chocolate, chocolate chips, butter and cream in a food processor. Heat the cream on the stove to boiling before you add it to the chocolate. It will melt everything into a creamy mass. Refrigerate the truffle mix until solid and then form it into balls. Dip the balls in cocoa powder and refrigerate again. Wrapped in pretty packaging, homemade truffles make a thoughtful, elegant gift for your child's favorite teacher.

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