Can I substitute cacao powder?

Could I use cacao powder? Instead of cocoa powder

Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake
Recipe question for: Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake


Nancy March 15, 2022
A tangent to this discussion - cacao powder and cacao nibs contribute to an excellent hot cocoa (richer, slightly more bitter than made only with cocoa powder).
HalfPint March 14, 2022
A year ago, I bought a large bag of cacao powder from Costco. Brand is called Volupta. Since then I have been using it in place of cocoa powder in my baking. I have made cake, brownies, and frosting.

No strange or unexpected results. It is usually a 1:1 substitution. My reasoning is that cacao is an unprocessed cocoa powder and so little change is needed to the recipe using natural cocoa powder. I actually find that to be the case for dutch-processed cocoa as well. Since DP cocoa is neutral in pH, recipes that use it have already compensated with adequate leavening agents. If we really want to get nitpick, I would go further to say that the rise of a cake made with cacao is not as high as cocoa. Which indicates a little more base needed to react with the acidity of the cacao, for more leavening. Overall, it's a decent rise. Cake texture (from cacao) has been tender with a moist crumb. Same results for brownies.

The flavor is different from cocoa powder, more intense, but then I find cocoa powder flavor to vary from brand to brand as well. The color of cacao baked goods is not as dark or intense (which makes sense since cacao is not roasted) and that's about all that I can detect. Is it a dealbreaker? Absolutely not. Everything I've made with cacao has been delicious (with a good chocolate-y hit) and quickly consumed.

In general, you can make the substitution with cacao powder. Try it out and let us know what you find.
AntoniaJames March 14, 2022
I was hoping someone who bakes a lot and who has made the substitution would weigh in on this. Thanks! This is great info. ;o)
AntoniaJames March 14, 2022
Let us know if you try this! Someone gave me some cacao powder a few years ago and I recall when I researched it that thekitchn - quite trustworthy in my experience - cautioned against trying to substitute cacao powder for cocoa powder in cakes, as the cacao has somewhat different chemical properties, which can react in unexpected / unhelpful ways with the leavening agents in the recipe. ;o)
aargersi March 14, 2022
I just looked up the difference - cocoa is cacao processed with high heat. From what I have read they can be used interchangeably, and with cacao you retain additional health benefits so, health food cake! #winning!
Recommended by Food52