Brownies baked with cocoa powder and oil: dry and spongy rather than moist and fudgy Brownies baked with cocoa powder and oil

In the various chocolate-based recipes in the archive, one question that has been repeatedly asked is about substituting cocoa powder for melted chocolate. Most of these questions come from people who intend to sell their baked products so they prefer to use cocoa powder which is less expensive and has a longer shelf life than chocolate. But there are also those who ask because of the mere convenience of cocoa powder over chocolate. Just measure and dump into the mixing bowl, no melting, no double boilers, less utensils to wash. But the worse questions come from people who are merely too lazy to look for good baking chocolate.

So, the time came when I ran out of chocolate but had this huge craving for brownies. I went ahead and baked brownies using cocoa powder. This post should answer all the questions about the wisdom of substituting cocoa powder for melted chocolate. brownies1

Note that I have done this experiment twice already using two different recipes. The first experiment yielded brownies that were slightly chewy but not exactly fudgy. They still had that cake-like texture which, for me, isn’t a good thing. I understand that some people prefer “cake-like” brownies which I find to be a misunderstanding of what a brownie is. A brownie is essentially a cookie. So, if it is “cake-like” (not to be confused with brownie cake) then, there’s something terribly off about it.

Considering the slightly chewy texture of the brownies in the first batch, I thought there was hope. No need to run to the baking supply store for chocolate just yet. I just had to find a better recipe. And I baked brownies a second time again using cocoa powder and oil.

The second batch which you see in the three photos in this post was even worse than the first. It wasn’t even slightly chewy but downright dry and spongy. Brownies baked with cocoa powder and oil

In conclusion, no more brownies with cocoa powder and oil for me. I will stick with:

The tried-and-tested chocolate fudge brownie recipe in the archive; and
The secret to chewy, fudgy brownies


  1. Tere says

    Hi Ms. Connie! Anong recipe po ginamit nyo dito? Kasi ako din po lagi nagttry dati mag-bake ng brownies using powdered cocoa nagiging ganyan din po (dry). Kaya nung na-try ko po yung recipe nyo using dark chocolate yun na po ang lagi ko ginagawa. Masarap po talaga yun. :-)

      • says

        It’s so traumatic for me pag naka-encounter ako ng ganyang recipe. Parang minsan nakakawala ng gana magluto ulit. Like yesterday, I made spanish bread and followed the recipe of a cooking blog.Ayun napalpak lang. :-( Naisip ko tuloy dapat nag-stick na lang ako sa basic bread recipe mo which I tried and tested many times with sticky buns, pandesal and cheese roll. Sana hindi nasayang ang effort at ingredients ko. Kaya I really admire you for not getting tired of exploring on different recipes. You really rock Ms. Connie! Have a nice day! :-)

          • says

            When I made brownies like that, para hindi masayang, I thought of slicing them into small cubes or crumbling them then add it to some ice cream. Maybe it will help hydrate the dry brownies. It’s just that I wasn’t able to do it because my son’s classmates came and they ate all my palpak brownies as it is. Sayang di ko na-try ilagay sa ice cream, pero hindi rin sayang kasi inubos nila lahat. :-)

  2. says

    I have had several disastrous brownie recipe encounters in the past.

    Each time, I turned them into Chocolate Trifle. I layer half the brownies in a deep bowl or pan. Brush the brownies with cherry liqueur or the syrup from canned cherries- just to add a bit of moistness. Then pile on the chocolate pudding, whipped cream, shaved chocolate and cherries. I repeat with another layer of brownies until I have used up all the ingredients. I then drizzle the top with either caramel or ganache and chill overnight.

    No one knows it was just a recipe to salvage unpalatable brownies and I now even get some requests from my friends to bring it to our potlucks.