The more Halloween-appropriate a baked good appears, the grosser it will taste. See exhibits O, M, and G.
But there are tricks for your treats: black tahini and black cocoa powder, two Amazon-available ingredients ready to spook your any dessert into Halloween costumes. In hack-like switcherooing, using them in any recipe that calls for their paler counterparts leaves you with desserts that are ghoulish, dark, and stormy, but not at all cheesy. They will look like you were thoughtful in making this year’s contributions holiday-appropriate, but without having to Martha Stewart the daylights out of a pumpkin. And your end products will actually taste good.
Sarah wrote that black tahini is “the ingredient no one knows what to do with (yet)”—and by golly did we figure it out. Black tahini, which is made of organic, unhulled black sesame seeds, tastes like extremely toasted, verging-on-burnt regular tahini. You could make hummus with it (for what Kenzi called a “wood-fired hummus”), or you could take it to sweets, where it’ll add a slightly more bitter, mysterious flavor. It’ll also turn your desserts a much darker hue—an ashen grey-black.
Whereas Dutch or regular cocoa powder is the color of milk chocolate, black cocoa powder (sometimes called noir cocoa) is jet black. It’s what goes into Oreo’s and should go into any baked good with cocoa powder that you want especially spooky.
Black cocoa powder is typically highly alkalized, so it lacks some of the fat, acid, and bitterness you find in alkalized Dutch process cocoa powder. The result is a cocoa powder that’s more intensely chocolatey, similar to unsweetened dark chocolate. Because of the lower fat, some sources will say you should only replace half a recipe’s cocoa powder with black cocoa, but our resident baking expert, Erin McDowell, said that if the recipe is naturally high in fat (like loads of cake and cookie recipes), you can go full throttle on the black cocoa. Be careful with quick breads and other lower-fat recipes; they may come out crumbly if there isn’t enough fat.
Similarly, sources say you may want to adjust the quantity of baking powder in a recipe since there isn’t any acid in black cocoa powder. But Erin (who uses black cocoa powder more than any other cocoa!) says you’ll only need to worry about fussing with the chemical leavener if the recipe has a large amount (like in biscuits).
We used 100% black cocoa powder in the frosting and cake in Posie’s perfect chocolate cake recipe, as well as these holiday crinkle cookies. We even rolled the crinkle cookies in the black cocoa, so instead of getting confectioners’ sugar up your nose at first bite, you’re immediately hit with deep, dark chocolate. The flavors of the desserts were no doubt rich and a little more savory—and their appearance? Well, they speak for themselves.
Have you ever used black cocoa powder or black tahini? Let us know in the comments below!
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