Ina Garten's Go-To Cocoa Powder For Flavorful Cakes

Since she first appeared on our television screens over 20 years ago, celebrity chef Ina Garten has been a source of inspiration for plenty of elevated breakfast dishes and easy one-pan dinners. Thankfully, the Barefoot Contessa also has us covered when it comes to the sweetest meal of the day: dessert!

If you're craving something especially decadent as your after-dinner treat, you can't go wrong with a classic chocolate cake. Garten's signature Beatty's Chocolate Cake is her "ultimate favorite" (per her website) — featuring layers of rich chocolate cake wrapped in creamy frosting. The batter famously includes one cup of freshly brewed hot coffee, which helps intensify the flavor, but Garten's other secret to achieving that high-impact chocolatey taste lies in choosing the right cocoa powder.

The key is using Dutch process cocoa powder, a version of the product that's washed with an alkaline solution to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa. The result is a less acidic powder that boasts a deeper flavor and color in comparison to its natural, unwashed counterpart. Unsurprisingly, the Dutch process version makes for some seriously delicious chocolate desserts.

Ina Garten opts for Pernigotti cocoa powder

Named as one of her favorite things to keep in the pantry, Pernigotti cocoa powder has always been Garten's go-to for recipes, including her Beatty's Chocolate Cake. These days, however, it may prove more difficult to find this particular brand for your own pantry. Pernigotti, the Italian chocolate company dating back to 1860, closed its facility in Novi Ligure in 2018. It was later acquired by the asset management division of financial services company JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2022, but based on the manufacturer's product lineup on its website, it no longer offers its cocoa powder for retail purchases.

Nevertheless, you can find the same dark, unsweetened cocoa powder at ChefShop. The gourmet store claims that its product is sourced directly from the original maker of Pernigotti's. As for what makes this cocoa so special? It's Dutch-processed and contains a hint of real ground vanilla bean as well as a higher cocoa butter fat content between 22% and 24%, which results in a richer chocolate profile.

If you're in a pinch and can't find the Pernigotti variety, Garten recommends the cocoa powder from French chocolate brand Valrhona as the best alternative. It's also Dutch-processed, but, luckily, it's widely available online. You can purchase the ingredient directly from the company or from specialty retailers like Sur La Table.

Pro tip: When you're not using it to bake a cake, this type of cocoa powder can also be used for Garten-approved hot chocolate.