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For some reason it is very difficult in Canada to find Dutch-process cocoa that is labelled as such. What is this elusive process? Why do none of the tins of cocoa on my local supermarket shelves call themselves Dutch-process?  Is there something I don’t know about the state of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Netherlands?

I have always shied away from recipes calling for Dutch-process cocoa because I didn’t understand the difference between it and the stuff that was always in my cupboard. But as of this week, I decided that no fancy-shmancy cocoa was going to intimidate me! So, I did some searching around, and this is what I found: http://www.joyofbaking.com/cocoa.html  Apparently, cocoa in its natural state is very acidic, and the Dutch-process neutralizes the acidity with an alkalizing additive like potassium or sodium carbonate, so that the cocoa is more stable for baking.  So, even if the label doesn’t say Dutch-process, look at the ingredients list for one of those alkalizers.  Funny thing is, after all this, the cocoa I have always been using for baking was Dutch-process.

These cupcakes were my first bake knowingly using Dutch-process cocoa.  They are the Devil’s Food Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook. They have a lovely natural chocolatey flavor.  The icing is a raspberry buttercream recipe that I found here: http://www.completelydelicious.com/2011/04/chocolate-cupcakes-with-raspberry-buttercream.html but made some minor modifications to. Mainly the modifications were increasing the amount of raspberry puree, and in the second batch I made, omitting the vanilla extract (I found it dulled the tartness of the raspberry flavor).

The icing was piped using Wilton tip 2D to create a texture that was somewhere between a wild rose and a ruffle pillow. Perfect, I thought, for the baby shower of a dear co-worker who is expecting her first, a little girl, in December.