You're geared up to make a gooey chocolate bread pudding or flourless chocolate cake and the recipe calls for you to sift your cocoa powder as you add it to the other ingredients. Raise your hand if you usually skip this step. (My hand is up!) Sometimes you really don't want to dirty another tool in your kitchen and really don't want to waste an extra minute getting to the finished product, but this is one step you're better off not skipping if you want the best results. Here's why.
Why You Should Sift Your Cocoa Powder
Sifting breaks up any lumps in the cocoa powder and adds air to it. Sifting also ensures the most accurate measurement: Taking a big scoop of cocoa powder straight from the container, which is lumpy and packed down, likely has more volume than the recipe calls for, leaving you with a cake that's dense instead of light and fluffy.
You may have noticed that those clumps are incredibly difficult to break up, even with a whisk, once in your bowl of other ingredients. If you don't get rid of them, they can bake up into dry spots in your brownies. Take the extra few seconds to sift the amount of cocoa powder called for in the recipe with a sifter or a fine mesh strainer. You can sift it onto a piece of wax or parchment paper before adding it to the other ingredients or you can even sift it right into the bowl.
No sifter, no problem: Here's How to Sift Flour Without a Sifter