Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that Buzzy Kitchen earns commission from purchases made – at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting Buzzy Kitchen!
We’ve all been there: rummaging around in the back of the kitchen cupboards, looking for cocoa powder because we didn’t check a cake’s recipe ingredients before we started cooking. What if you don’t have what you’re looking for? Can hot chocolate be used as cocoa powder? What will happen if you substitute the two?
Let’s get you some answers!
Can Hot Chocolate Be Used as Cocoa Powder?
Yes, in most situations you can use hot chocolate if you need cocoa powder and don’t have any to hand. There are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind, however.
Firstly, hot chocolate powder isn’t just cocoa powder.
It’s mixed up with other ingredients, including powdered milk and sugar. Using it will likely make your recipe a little sweeter than intended.
I recently bought Choceur Instant Hot Chocolate Drink from Aldi. For what it’s worth, it’s one of the best (and cheapest) hot chocolate powder drinks I’ve EVER tried. I can’t get enough of the stuff.
Anyway, my opinions aside, here are the ingredients:
As you can see, there’s a whole load more than just cocoa powder. There are anticaking agents to stop the powder from forming into one big clump during transit and storage, plus thickeners, acidity regulators, emulsifiers, and more.
Secondly, cocoa powder offers more of a ‘chocolatey’ flavour than hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate is less chocolatey and sweeter. Substituting it for hot chocolate powder will result in a finished product that doesn’t quite have that thick and creamy chocolate finish.
Thirdly, the colour of your finished product will change.
Cocoa powder is usually darker than hot chocolate mix, so a cake or dessert made with the latter will be a lighter shade.
The actual hot chocolate powder you use will play a big part, too.
You know how some hot chocolate drinks are a bit watery and bland when you make them, even when you add extra powder? The same lack of taste can transfer to the cake, dessert, or whatever you’re making.
A good, high-quality, thick, and chocolatey hot chocolate powder will work better as a substitute than a watery, thin, bland one.
How do I Substitute Hot Chocolate Powder for Cocoa Powder?
If you’re using hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder, you will need to consider the extra sweetness. Because of this, it is likely you’ll need to reduce some of the sugar from the recipe – and you’ll likely need to do a little trial-and-error to get the amounts just right.
One thing that many people don’t consider is the extra ingredients in hot chocolate powder that makes it froth in a cup. The frothing agent will work in your cake or dessert, too. It’s probably a good idea to use a slightly bigger tin, mug, or other container when cooking, just in case it rises a bit more than you expect. (And makes a much bigger mess.)
Substituting Cocoa Powder with Hot Chocolate: Conclusion
Although hot chocolate powder will save a recipe in a food emergency, your finished product may differ from what you’re expecting. This is especially the case in terms of flavour, sweetness, and colour.
If possible, always use the ingredients in the recipe. If that’s cocoa powder, use cocoa powder.
If you don’t have that option, hot chocolate powder will work. You might notice the difference, though. Whether or not that’s a problem will be down to your own personal tastes and preferences.