Regardless of a generic, factory-made bar or handmade premium treats from Schoko Chocolates – 14.2 million Australians love chocolates, and the number seems to be in an eternal soaring phase. Cacao or Cocoa is the fruit that gives cocoa beans and the world’s most favorite treat chocolates are made from cocoa beans. Chocolates, as we all know, not only make us crazy with their mind blowing tastes, they are affluent in numerous physiological benefits as well. But before chocolates are made, cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa beans. Since I love everything about chocolate, I am going to talk about cocoa butter today.
Let’s dive in.
Cacao or cocoa butter is the stuff from which everyone’s favorite chocolates are made. It is the edible fat that we extract from cocoa beans. Actually, the cocoa butter consists of around 55% of the bean’s weight.
It has a pale yellow coloration and oozes a strong cocoa flavor and fragrance. Though we call it ‘butter’, this fat is completely of vegan origin, and we can get it only from cacao beans.
We all know that the chocolates have an amazing ability to stay firm at room temperature but melt inside our mouth. Chocolates borrow this extraordinary trait from cocoa butter - cocoa butter dissolves just a shade under our body temperature (34–38 °C).
Cocoa butter is abundantly rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It is a very stable fat which enjoys a shelf life from 3 to 5 years without ever going to be rancid. Then there is the amazing moisturizing property it contains. All of these make cocoa butter a very useful ingredient in creating body and face lotions as well. We may talk more about the qualities that are useful for making other things in the future, but today I am going to talk only about how cocoa butter is useful in chocolates.
Making Of Cocoa Butters
As I have mentioned earlier, cocoa butter is made from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are the seeds of the Theobroma tree. After the beans are collected, they go through the processes of fermentation, drying, roasting and crackling to create cocoa nibs respectively. A thick paste is collected from grinding down the nibs and this thick paste is known as cocoa liquor.
The cocoa liquor is then pressed pretty hard. This process distinguishes the fat – the thing that we call cocoa butter - from the solid content. We get cocoa powder from that solid content.
It is important to know that there are generally two types of cocoa butter we can get - deodorized and non-deodorized. Let’s get to know something about them.
The cocoa butter that is without its natural odors is mostly known as deodorized cocoa butter. The odor is reduced or removed completely either by physically or chemically. Deodorized cocoa butter is mostly used in cosmetics since it doesn’t have the strong or signature cocoa aromas. It is also often used by chocolatiers or chocolate makers in recipes where the strong cocoa flavor and aroma is avoided so that it can’t intervene with the other flavors of that produce. But the deodorizing process excoriates the natural nutrients and antioxidants which are highly beneficial for our health. The vast majority of white chocolates are made with deodorized cocoa butter. As the cocoa butter is without its natural odor, chocolate makers can easily then add vanilla and sugar in the white chocolates.
The cocoa butter that is unrefined and natural is known as non-deodorized (or un-deodorized). Non-deodorized cocoa butter retains its distinctive pale-yellow coloration and the unique and strong cacao flavor and aroma are also remained intact. This extract makes it possible to create single-origin delicious chocolate. And most importantly non-deodorized cocoa butter conserves most of the essential nutrients and antioxidants that nature makes the cacao beans affluent with. But using non-deodorized cocoa butter is sometimes avoided due to its strong flavor which seems to overlap with other intended flavors.
Cocoa Butter In Its Versatile Forms
Now that we have some sorts of ideas about what the cocoa butter is and how we get it, let’s have a look at how it is used by different groups of people.
Chocolate makers use cocoa butter to enhance the texture and provide a smooth and creamy mouthful. In the factory-made chocolate bars, lecithin – a soy-like chemical is added to bring about the same feel as the cocoa butter gives. On the other hand, handmade premium chocolate makers like Schoko Chocolates always depend on cocoa butter to encrust their creation with silky creaminess. And as I have mentioned earlier, the thermodynamics of cocoa butter induce chocolates to melt quicker when we put them inside our mouths. A few chocolate makers have recently created ‘cocoa bar’ – alike white chocolates as in it doesn’t contain any cocoa solids. But the ingenuity doesn’t end there – this type of ‘cocoa butter’ bars doesn’t have any dairy either.
For the chocolatiers who give us candies, confections, chocolate truffle, bonbons, and many things more, cocoa butter is a must-have ingredient. Adding cocoa butter in those products reduces the viscosity (otherwise known as something being in the state of thick, sticky and semi-fluid condition). Cocoa butter also makes them runnier inside our mouth. But cocoa butter not only does its wonder to the tastes, it makes it infinitely easier to mould chocolates. And it also enriches the glossiness of the products and the snapping gets much more interesting – as the sound becomes more crisp and sharp. Chocolatiers also need it for creating delightful designs with vivid colors on chocolates. The reason is another of cocoa butter’s chemical greatness - it is much lighter than solid milk or dark chocolate and can easily be mixed with all sorts of food colors to paint straight away onto chocolate moulds.
Cocoa wasn’t named ‘the gift from Gods’ for no reason. Our physical and mental health gets benefited by cocoa butter in various ways. It’s already proven as a heart-healthy fat since it's rich in good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. With boosting our moods, healthy fats can help improve our brain health as well. Though its ability to lower cholesterol when taken in moderation is not yet completely scientifically conclusive, numerous studies have been conducted on this topic and most seemed in line with the claim of its heart-health boosting power. They also provide us magnesium, iron and Vitamin E. Then there is the amazing natural chemical flavanol – this chemical is packed with goodies for human bodies and researchers are investing a considerable amount of their valuable times for establishing their abilities to help us in many ways. It should be noted here that non-deodorized cocoa butter can deliver us the most health benefits.
There you go - hope you have enjoyed knowing about cocoa butter. I certainly did. And now I am off to enjoy their greatness firsthand from my favorite collection of chocolates from Schoko Chocolates.