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Publication: I'm Not Martha
Today is my birthday!!!

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          I'M NOT MARTHA - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hi! I'm Lizzy!!  and I'm not Martha!!!

Today is my birthday!!!  And I love birthdays.  Mine and 
everyone else's, too, even if they are less than thrilled 
I am.  It's my greatest pleasure to remind my friends that 
I am glad that we have had another year together and how 
much fun we will have in the one coming.

the great fun of it all is that several of the ladies all 
celebrate around this time of year with me...Rachel, 
Gussie, Alby, Sherilynn, Rona, and Anne. We are all born 
within a couple of weeks.  And I was baking birthday cake 
over the weekend...sort of a group hug and candle blow-out 
party with presents all around. 

I got thinking about things as the Mix Master was doing 
its thing. The recipe called for Dutch processed cocoa.  
Now I just go to the store and buy it...never giving it 
much thought as to what makes cocoa dutched or why it's 
different from cocoa powder.  Thought maybe you've 
wondered, too. 

P.S. If you're interested we now have a forum. You can 
post comments on this and recent issues at...  
Not Martha forum


Some basics first...as usual:

Originating from the Americas, the cocoa bean enriches 
life throughout the world today. Its real value was 
probably first discovered by the Aztecs in Central 
America and was used as means for payment as well as the 
ingredient for a powerful "drink of gods". It wasn't until 
the beginning of the 16th century that cocoa was brought 
into Europe during the initial visit of Columbus to the 
"new world". Although the Spanish tried to keep this 
developing cocoa and chocolate industry to themselves, 
this new "taste' quickly found its way to the rich and 
wealthy of other countries. 

Cocoa powder is made when chocolate liquor is pressed to 
remove three quarters of its cocoa butter.  The remaining 
cocoa solids are processed to make fine unsweetened cocoa 

There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural 
and Dutch-processed.

*Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder tastes very bitter and 
gives a deep chocolate flavor to baked goods.  Its intense 
flavor makes it well suited for use in brownies, cookies 
and some chocolate cakes.  When natural cocoa (an acid) is 
used in recipes calling for baking soda (an alkali), it 
creates a leavening action that causes the batter to rise 
when placed in the oven.  Popular brands are Hershey's, 
Ghirardelli, and Scharffen Berger. 

*Dutch-Processed or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder is 
treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. Because it 
is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be 
used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are 
other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used.

It has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is easy to 
dissolve in liquids. This process is purely to control 
flavor and color. Many people erroneously assume that 
alkalized cocoa powder is "better" than non-alkalized or 
"natural" cocoa powder. It is no better, just more mellow 
tasting and darker colored. For best results, use the type 
indicated in the recipe. 

Its delicate flavor makes it ideal in baked goods like 
European cakes and pastries where its subtle flavor 
complements other ingredients. Droste, Lindt, Valrhona, 
Poulain and Pernigotti are some popular brands. 

*The role of cocoa powder in cakes:
When used alone in cakes, cocoa powder imparts a full rich 
chocolate flavor and dark color.  Cocoa powder can also be 
used in recipes with other chocolates (unsweetened or dark) 
and this combination produces a cake with a more intense 
chocolate flavor than if the cocoa wasn't present.

Most recipes call for sifting the cocoa powder with the 
flour but to bring out its full flavor it can be combined 
with a small amount of boiling water.  (If you want to try 
this in a recipe, substitute some of the liquid in the 
recipe for boiling water.) 

Often times, you may notice that more butter and leavening 
agent are used in recipes containing cocoa powder. This is 
to offset cocoa powder's drying and strengthening affect 
in cakes. 

It is best to use the type specified in the recipe as the 
leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa 
powder. Some prefer using Dutch-processed cocoa as a slight 
bitterness may be tasted in cakes using natural cocoa and 
baking soda. 

*What is chocolate bloom?

Chocolate bloom is the tell-tale sign that chocolate has 
not been stored correctly. The most obvious type of bloom, 
fat bloom, looks like gray-white blotches and streaks on the 
chocolate and occurs when the chocolate is exposed to heat 
during storage. Sugar bloom, which leaves the chocolate 
feeling rough, occurs when the chocolate is stored in damp 
conditions. Melting and/or tempering bloomed chocolate 
eliminates the problem, although chocolate affected with 
sugar bloom should not be melted and used for fine candy 

*What is the best way to store chocolate?

Store chocolate at cool room temperature in a dark place 
with good air circulation; the refrigerator in not 
recommended although if your kitchen is particularly hot 
and humid, it might be your only choice. Wrap it well to 
protect it from odors. 

Ideally, chocolate should be wrapped first in foil and then 
in plastic and stored at a constant temperature of 65°F and 
50% humidity. Slightly higher temperatures and humidity are 
acceptable although the chocolate may not last as long. 
Stored under perfect conditions, unsweetened and dark 
chocolate will last for 10 years, and certainly up to a 
year in good home kitchen conditions; milk and white 
chocolate for 7 to 8 months. Formed chocolate candies such 
as truffles and pralines can be frozen and defrosted in the 
refrigerator before being brought to room temperature for 

Happy birthday to anyone else out there who shares the day 
with me... and if you are not lucky enough to be born on 
May 1st... Happy Birthday on your special day when the 
calendar favors you! 


Questions...Comments...? email Lizzy


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END OF I'M NOT MARTHA - http://www.gophercentral.com 
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