Last night I made two batches of cupcakes using the same exact recipe except I used a different cocoa powder in them.
The first batch was made with Trader Joe's cocoa. At $2.49 for 9oz, it seemed a steal! The package boasts, "Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder has a pedigree unlike any other you will find....yadayda.." I was really hoping that it would live up to it's claim. Cutting my ingredients costs while still producing a quality cake would be awesome! Sadly, while many products fromTJ's are great, their cocoa powder is not. I found it to be pasty and lacking in chocolate flavor.
The other batch of cupcakes was made with Scharfenberger Cocoa Powder. I thought by comparing the cheaper cocoa (TJ's) powder to a premium one, that I would be able to better assess the quality difference. After I finished the experiment I kind of felt silly. It was wishful thinking in hoping that a cheap cocoa powder would stand up to the likes of Scharfenberger! Those cupcakes were so rich in flavor compared to the TJ's ones!
Today I made two separate batches of buttercream frosting to go with the cupcakes, of course with the corresponding cocoas to match the cakes. I frosted them all up, plated them, sliced them into fours, and had a blind taste testing with my kids, husband, MIL, and a few of my foodie neighbors. Hands down, every single one of them chose the Scharfenberger Cocoa cupcakes over the Trader Joe's Cocoa cupcakes. Even the kids.
This goes to show ya, you usually get what you pay for (Sometimes you CAN get quality for less, like the Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bars!)
My next experiment will be with the Penzey's Unsweetened Cocoa. Id like to see how it holds up to the Scharfenberger.