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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Cocoa Powder & Demerara Sugar in Chile

    I live im Chile, what it is cocoa powder? I think we don´t have it here. Kind regards.  

    Hi!. I would like to make creme brulee but I live in Chile and can't find demerara sugar. We have brown sugar, is this the same? Is there a difference between brown sugar and demerara sugar?. It is possible to switch them? Thanks! Tenita

    From the nigella team:

    Cocoa powder is a powder made from cocoa solids (after the cocoa butter has been removed) and is usually unsweetened. We would be surprised if it is not available in Chile, but it will most likely be the powder used to make hot chocolate (where you add milk and sugar, not one where you add just milk or hot water). It may be labelled as "cacao" or just as "cocoa".

    If cocoa really is unavailable then carob powder is sometimes used as a substitute. Carob powder is slightly naturally sweeter than cocoa powder but tends not to have quite the same depth of flavour as cocoa. Brands may vary slightly but we would suggest switching exact volumes/weights of cocoa powder with carob powder and then adjust to your own taste. If you need to increase the quantity of carob powder significantly in baking then you will need to reduce the amount of flour in the cake batter by an equivalent amount, so that the cake doesn't become too dry.

    Demerara sugar is a crystallized brown sugar. It is different to brown sugar as it crystallized and not soft, so does not have the high moisture content of brown sugar. Also it is made from partailly refined sugar (from cane sugar) whereas brown sugars are made by adding molasses to fully refined sugar. In the US it is known as turbinado sugar and is often sold under the brand name "Sugar In The Raw" and you may find it under these names, or possibly labelled as Azucar Morena sugar (this is slightly lighter than turbinado but would be good for topping creme brulees).

    We would not recommend switching between brown sugars and demerara/turbinado sugar in baking as the switch will affect the final dish. If you cannot find turbinado/demerara suagr then we suggest using regular granulated sugar instead.

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