Melt butter or shortening in a double boiler over low heat, stirring continuously, or in a microwave for 10-second intervals, stirring in between each interval.
Stir the unsweetened cocoa powder into the melted butter or shortening until smooth.
Use as directed in the recipe.
Check for freshness of cocoa powder before using, and make sure to store in a tightly closed tin away from light.
Judy Antell was the editor of Big Apple Parent for 13 years and continues to write for the monthly publication. Antell has been published in "The New York Times," "Parents" magazine and on numerous websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Arts degree in literature and drama from Washington University.