Dutched Process Chocolate
If you are an amateur cook or baker, it’s possible that you’ve never purchased cocoa that has not been “dutched.” As one would guess, the dutching process, which adds alkali to cocoa to neutralize the acidity and bitterness, was developed by Coenraad Johannes van Houten of the Netherlands.
Some accounts of the invention of the dutch process also credit van Houten with developing the first hydraulic press in 1828 to remove the butter, or fat, from cacao beans. Removing the butter left a thick, gritty paste which was then pulverized into cocoa powder. However, other accounts say that van Houten’s father, Casparus, is mainly responsible for creating the press. At any rate, both developments are milestones in the history of chocolate and further “democratized” the consumption of chocolate, which had long been consumed as a beverage mainly by Europe’s aristocracy.
When cocoa is dutched, the alkalizing agent modifies its color to a deeper brown tone and alters its PH, creating a milder flavor compared to "natural cocoa" that has not been dutched. The process also increases the solubility of cocoa so it mixes more readily in liquid.
Cocoa that has been dutch processed contains lower amounts of flavonols, a type of antioxidant, than natural cocoa. One study has determined that 60 percent of natural cocoa's original antioxidants were destroyed by even light dutching, and 90 percent were destroyed by heavy dutching. However, other observers have noted that natural cocoa has such high levels of antioxidants that even a 60 percent reduction leaves it high on the list of antioxidant-rich foods.
Because of the differences in natural cocoa powder and dutched powder, substituting one for the other in recipes is not generally recommended. Because of the differing acidities, leavening actions may vary.
As for Coenraad van Houten, he continued in the chocolate business after his dutching process was invented, even producing chocolate in a windmill at one point. His son, Casparus, contributed greatly to the growth of the company until the dawn of the 20th Century. The Van Houten brand name has transferred several times over the years. Today it is part of the Barry Callebaut chocolate manufacturing company.