"From Julia Child's Kitchen": A Book Review, a Bit of Bread Nostalgia, and a Chocolate Substitution Table

From Julia Child's KitchenBY THE WAY I keep referring to this book you may have guessed that From Julia Child's Kitchen is one of my favourites. In fact, it has been – ever since it came out, in 1975.

I had been in the restaurant business for a mere three years by then, and we were looking for something to distinguish our restaurant even more than it already was – by then it was already rated as one of the best in Canada – and we found it in Julia's Basic Rye or Whole Grain Bread Recipe on page 454.

We made the whole grain version fresh every day, and served it alongside an excellent crusty loaf supplied by a local Portuguese bakery.

That whole grain bread is as good today as it was then, in spite of all the new books, methods, recipes and websites dedicated to what is now called artisan bread.

There's an excellent review of From Julia's Kitchen on (you can access it by clicking on the picture, above) and I won't even try to improve on it, except to add that I think it's the only place in the world where you can find complete directions on how to substitute cocoa for chocolate.

Here it is:


When you want unsweetened baking chocolate and you have cocoa:

For each ounce of chocolate required, blend 3 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, shortening or cocoa butter (buy it at the pharmacy).

When you want semisweet baking chocolate and you have cocoa:

Proceed as above, but add 3 tablespoons sugar.

When you want semisweet chocolate and have only unsweetened chocolate:

To make 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate, use 2 ounces unsweetened chocolae, 7 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, shortening or cocoa butter.

When your recipe calls for a name-brand "sweet chocolate", like German's, Dutch, Eagle, or a French brand:

Use regular semisweet baking chocolate, either just as it is, or enrich it with a little unsweetened chocolate – 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate for every 3 or 4 ounces of semisweet.


1. Never hesitate to substitute cocoa for chocolate by using the above guidelines: these recipes for unsweetened chocolate substitute, bittersweet chocolate substitute and sweet chocolate substitute work really well for any recipe calling for either product. Sometimes, the taste is even improved, especially if you use butter instead of shortening or cocoa butter.

2.  Did you know that you can also substitute chocolate for cocoa powder? Hot chocolate can be made with practically any type of chocolate. It melts faster if you chop it first and it gets nice and frothy if you mix it with a hand blender. Adjust sugar to taste.

3. Speaking of cocoa powder, forget about buying hot chocolate mix! Why pay cocoa price for sugar and a bunch of chemicals? I think the reason people buy that junk is because folks have forgotten how to use cocoa – a technique which my generation learned at our mother's knee. Here it is:

-- While the milk is heating, mix the cocoa and the sugar in your cup with a spoonful of cold milk. (The proportions are 1 TB cocoa and 2 TB sugar per cup.)

-- Mix to a paste with a spoon.

-- Pour in the hot milk gradually, stirring constantly.

If you own a hand blender, perform the above operation in the blender's cup, then whir the mixture till you get a nice froth.

Serve in a beautiful mug with mini marshmallows on top – better yet, a dollop of whipped cream – maybe a sprinkling of cocoa or cinnamon, or try some chili powder.

4. There's cocoa, and then there's cocoa. Check out this Cook's Illustrated article about the different kinds of cocoa powder, and how they rated in a taste test.

5. If you're looking for a substitute for chocolate because of health reasons, carob powder is all there is... it's definitely inferior and you sure won't get the same buzz!

6. Recent recipes are likely to call for a certain percentage of cacao; in that case try to approximate it by using the above table as a guide.

I find the above especially useful because I always have cocoa powder around; I buy it in large quantity at the bulk store – it keeps better than chocolate and there's no temptation to eat it!
Print out this list so it'll be handy when you run out of chocolate and all you have is cocoa.

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