The Reason You Should Bloom Cocoa Powder

Blooming your spices is a quick way to maximize flavors in a savory dish — but have you thought about using the technique when making something sweet? To intensify the chocolate factor in your next batch of brownies, consider blooming your cocoa powder. 

First, it's important to understand exactly what "blooming" means. According to Bon Appétit, the term refers to a South Asian cooking technique by which spices and aromatics are fried in a fat, such as oil or ghee, prior to adding any other liquid. Doing so releases the flavors of the spices into the oil, giving them a more potent, vivid, and complex taste. As Cook's Illustrated added, the flavor compounds in many spices are fat-soluble, which means that cooking them in fat extracts more of their flavors than if you were to skip this step.

Keeping all of that in mind, it's not a stretch to imagine how cocoa powder might benefit from a similar treatment. In the case of cocoa powder, blooming can help yield a richer, more chocolatey flavor, adding depth to everything from brownies to chocolate cakes.

How to bloom cocoa powder

Luckily, this technique is an easy one to implement. According to The Spruce Eats, begin by measuring the amount of cocoa powder needed for your recipe and put it in a heatproof bowl. Then, take whatever liquid is required in your recipe (water or melted butter, for example), and warm it up. Add the hot liquid or fat to the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. While it cools, work on putting together the rest of your ingredients — once the mixture is no longer hot, you can proceed with your recipe as usual.

Per Kitchn, there are a few liquids that are particularly effective for blooming cocoa powder: hot water, hot coffee (to intensify the chocolate flavor), and hot oil (which is best for dishes like brownies) all work great.

While many recipes can be adapted to include a "blooming" step, it's important to note that it won't work in every single case. As The Spruce Eats reported, you should avoid blooming cocoa powder when making recipes that don't contain enough liquid to dissolve it. Additionally, in recipes that specifically call for cold butter, you should simply make them as directed — otherwise you may alter the texture of your final dish.