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Baking Light with Cocoa

Just because you’re trying to eat lighter doesn’t mean you have to swear off those chocolaty desserts you’ve come to love. Savvy cooks learn to substitute baking cocoa for some or all of the chocolate called for in a recipe—and lighten up cakes, cookies, quick breads and frosting in the process! Baking cocoa is the powdery residue produced when cocoa beans are processed. Most of the cocoa butter (the main fat in chocolate) is removed from this powder, making it an ideal ingredient for baking light. How does it work?

You might replace a 1-ounce square of melted unsweetened chocolate with 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce—and reduce the calories in a recipe by 90 and the total fat by 13 grams. Or try replacing 1/2 cup of melted semisweet chocolate chips (3 ounces) with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce and 3 tablespoons of sugar to save 222 calories and 26 grams of fat!

Make sure you add the cocoa powder to dry ingredients and the unsweetened applesauce to the wet ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients well, since baking cocoa tends to clump. Also, because it’s acidic, you might need to add more baking soda (1/8 teaspoon for every 3 tablespoons of cocoa).