Can You Use Hot Chocolate Powder Instead of Cocoa Powder?

Cocoa powder

We all have those days where we have our heart set on baking a particular recipe. We suddenly have deep desire to make chocolate cakes or whip up a batch of delicious brownies.

Often these delectable chocolate-based recipes have cocoa powder as a key ingredient.

So, what do you do if you head to your cupboard and find that you do not have any cocoa powder?

You might be tempted to look through your cupboards for a suitable alternative. Hot chocolate powder seems to be an obvious choice and something many of us have in our homes all the time.

Read on to learn if hot chocolate powder can save your recipe.

What Is the Difference Between Cocoa Powder and Hot Chocolate Powder?

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder in bowl

Cocoa beans are processed into parts. Cocoa butter, the highest fat content of the cocoa bean, is removed and used in everything from chocolate bars to skincare products.

The product that is left once the butter is extracted is dried and ground to a fine powder, and this is what we know as cocoa powder. It is dark and intense in flavour.

Hot chocolate powder

Hot chocolate in mug

Hot chocolate powder usually contains cocoa powder with some added ingredients. The additions will vary from brand to brand as will the percentage of them that are used.

Some hot chocolate powders, specifically ones that you’d just add hot water to when making hot chocolate, contain powdered milk.

Others hot chocolate powders are designed to be added to hot milk to make hot chocolate. These are less likely to contain dried dairy but may contain sugar and other flavourings.

Hot chocolate powder is lighter in colour and texture than cocoa powder.


Can You Use Hot Chocolate Powder Instead of Cocoa Powder in Cakes?

Baking cakes can require a slightly scientific approach. The quantities of your ingredients really do matter if you are aiming for a specific result.

Hot chocolate powder can be substituted for cocoa powder in cakes providing you allow for any differences it may make.

Firstly, check your hot chocolate powder. Does it contain anything that may alter the flavour of the cake? Is it dark enough in colour for the look you are going for? Are you prepared for it to have a lighter colour and milder chocolate flavour?

If your hot chocolate powder has a high sugar content, you may also want to consider reducing the sugar in your recipe slightly.

Overall, providing you’re not entering a strict competition or aiming for absolute perfection then hot chocolate powder will work in place of cocoa powder.

It should give enough flavour for the chocolatey hit you’re craving and shouldn’t affect the overall texture enough to worry about.


Can You Use Hot Chocolate Powder Instead of Cocoa Powder in Brownies or Cookies?

As with cakes, both brownies and cookies can be made using hot chocolate powder if needed.

The result will be like that of adding it to cakes and so just be aware of what is in the brand of hot chocolate you are using and how this may affect your final baked goods.


Can You Use Hot Chocolate Powder Instead of Cocoa Powder in Icing or Frosting?

Simply put, yes. Icing and frosting recipes are less fussy than ones that require baking.

You can alter your quantities as you go and add hot chocolate powder until you reach the flavour you would like whilst adding butter and milk to achieve the desired texture.

You may find that the frosting or icing is a little paler than if you used cocoa powder, but you can always add a dusting of hot chocolate powder or a sprinkled of grated chocolate on top to make the icing or frosting look even more chocolatey.

Carob pods and carob powder
Carob pods and carob powder

What Else Can I Use as a Substitute for Cocoa Powder?

As well as hot chocolate the following can be used as a cocoa powder substitute:

  • Dark chocolate – The darker the better. Substitute 3 tbsp of cocoa powder for 30g of melted or finely grated chocolate.
  • Dutch process cocoa – A close relative of cocoa powder this can be used in the same quantities for a very similar affect.
  • Carob powder – This can be used on a like for like basis although the flavour is different and less sweet.
  • Milk chocolate or chocolate chips – These will need to be melted and adding in the same quantities as dark chocolate. This will provide a milder sweeter taste but will add some chocolate flavour.