Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is a 100% plant-based fat made from cocoa beans. It is a frequent ingredient in pastries and, most especially, in chocolate desserts. Valrhona would like to share all the secrets behind this little-known ingredient with a whole host of benefits.

What is cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter is a fat that occurs naturally in cocoa beans. It is mainly made up of lipids, or saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

Cocoa butter’s ivory-white color makes it easy to recognize. Most of the time it’s stored as a solid slab.

How do we make cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter is made from the cocoa beans sealed away in cacao trees’ pods. Once picked, cocoa pods are opened up by hand to extract the beans, which are then fermented and dried.

When this is done, the beans are roasted and shelled, and the cocoa is ground down into nibs. Nibs from one or more origins can be blended together depending on the recipe you are using, before being mixed and ground into cocoa paste (also known as cocoa liquor).

A hydraulic press is used to separate out the liquid “cocoa butter” from the solids (which go into making cocoa powder).

Cocoa butter is highly flavored when it has been pressed. It then goes through several extra processes, including filtration, deodorization (which gives it its neutral flavor) and tempering.

Using cocoa butter

This natural fat is used as much by professionals as it is by the wider public. Cocoa butter offers lots of advantages in pastry-making and other forms of cooking.

Over the past few years, it has even found its way into our homes in various ways. Here are a few examples of cocoa butter’s uses.

Uses in desserts

Pastry chefs and chocolatiers are expert users of cocoa butter. Its melting point is about 99°F (37°C). It’s a useful part of the chocolate tempering process. After all, what would chocolate be without cocoa butter?

The lipids in cocoa butter give it its shiny appearance and melting texture. As you know, couverture chocolate is enriched with cocoa butter to make it more fluid and suited to certain uses, such as coating and molding.

This edible fat doesn’t give your preparations a cocoa flavor, hence why it can also be used for other recipes such as ice creams, spreads, desserts, and so on.

So that you can enjoy the best of chocolate, Valrhona follows European directives (2000/36/EC). We only use cocoa butter in our couverture chocolates, with no other added vegetable fats.

Uses in savory dishes

Although it might seem odd at first sight, cocoa butter has a really interesting role to play in cooking. This is because it’s a stable, odorless fat with a neutral flavor. Even better, cocoa butter doesn’t go off and stores perfectly.

Cocoa butter also withstands high temperatures, easily going as high as 392°F (200°C) without burning, unlike butter and certain oils. It enhances the natural flavor of a dish while perfectly preserving its character.

Did you know? Cocoa butter is suitable for vegan diets.

beurre de cacao

Uses in cosmetics

Cocoa butter is used in a whole host of cosmetic products, including lipstick, lip balm, sunscreen, moisturizer, scar repair creams, anti-aging creams and massage oils. This is because it’s a highly nourishing product, rich in vitamins A, B, C and E.

Cocoa butter is used in low-cost homemade beauty products. It moisturizes, soothes and nourishes the skin, strengthens the hair and combats cell aging thanks to its high levels of antioxidants.

Summary

Cocoa butter is a natural ingredient extracted from cocoa beans. Several steps go into, first, making nibs and later cocoa paste. Cocoa butter is made by pressing cocoa paste, then filtering, deodorizing and tempering it.

Cocoa butter is a fat that can be used in food to make chocolate and cocoa-based products such as milk chocolate, some milky chocolate drinks, chocolate bonbons, etc.

What’s more, it’s often used in cosmetics because it’s good for the skin and hair. Easy and cheap to use, it’s a star ingredient in DIY recipes!