Raw cocoa butter is a miracle ingredient that you can use for skincare, cooking, and for making homemade chocolate bars! Learn more about cocoa butter in the Wild Guide to Cocoa.
Cocoa butter is the fat, which is pressed from the cocoa beans after fermentation, roasting, and separation from the cocoa bean hulls.
It is yellow white and solid at room temperature. In it's raw form, you can eat it or use it on your skin and hair. The antioxidant profile in cocoa butter makes it a perfect stable fat source for use in soaps, lotions, and similar skin care products.
It's also great blended into smoothies, coffee and is a primary ingredient in making creamy homemade chocolate!
Cocoa butter is one of the most staple fats found in nature, and made up of 57-64% saturated fats in the form of stearic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, arachidic acid and lauric acid. The reminder of the fat is comprised of unsaturated fats consisting of 29-34% monounsaturated (oleic acid and palmitoleic acid) and 0-5% polyunsaturated (linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid).
Extracting Cocoa Butter
Once the cocoa beans are harvested, they are taken to ferment and then roast. When the roasted and fermented beans are ready, the cocoa solids undergo one of two different processing techniques:
Broma Process - This process is used to extract cocoa butter from the beans by hanging bags in a warm room and allowing the butter to melt and collect underneath. This process is considered more desirable and natural because it uses gentle temperatures to separate the butter from the cocoa solids.
Dutch Process/Press- Invented in 1828, the Dutch process is the more common way of separating the cocoa bean into butter and powder. The only difference with Dutch processing is that the beans are soaked in alkaline solution so they become chemically neutral. It is the basis for much of our modern chocolate, but the process makes the cocoa flavor more mild.
After one of these processes, a hydraulic press is used to press out the remaining cocoa butter.
These different processing techniques coupled with the different species of cocoa tree influences the final quality of the cocoa butter.
In South American countries, like Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, the resulting cocoa butter is the softest in the world. Central America and African countries have intermediate levels of hardness and the hardest cocoa butter comes from Asia and the Pacific islands.
The harness of the cocoa butter makes it more suitable for various products in the food and cosmetics industries. For example, the soft cocoa butter from South America is better used in cosmetic products while the Asian cocoa is hard and useful in chocolate making.
After the cocoa butter is extracted, most cocoa butter undergoes a process to deodorize the aroma and flavor. Even though cocoa butter is the fat from cocoa beans, it's strong flavor can strongly influence the taste of a final chocolate product.
This is why most cocoa butter used to make chocolate is deodorized. Of course, this comes at a loss of some nutritional benefit. Our advice is to use non-deodorized cocoa butter for personal use as it's unlikely you'll be able to taste the subtle difference.
Uses for Cocoa Butter
After extraction, cocoa butter is used in various products. The main one being the manufacturing of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate.
In order for white chocolate to be considered such, it must use at least 20% cocoa butter. Even though the finished deodorized cocoa butter is perfect for milk and dark chocolate, deodorized cocoa butter can produce a bland tasting white chocolate.
This is why some white chocolate manufacturers use non-deodorized cocoa butter to give their product more richness and chocolate flavor.
Beyond edible uses, cocoa butter is used in skincare products across the globe. It is commonly found in moisturizing products, marketed as a tool to prevent and remove stretch marks.
Cocoa Butter Health Benefits
Cocoa butter is a complex blend of saturated and unsaturated fats, which has health benefits for topical applications as well as consumption. With around 57 - 64% saturated fat, cocoa butter is a stable fat not prone to rancidity.
The balanced mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats, along with the antioxidants traditionally found in cocoa, make cocoa butter the perfect product for skin care soaps and lotions. They are particularly useful for pregnant women who have stretch marks and require non-invasive treatment to prevent or remove them.
Besides stretch marks, cocoa butter has moisturizing properties that make it useful for general skin care even without a specific use.
It is great for treating dry lips, wrinkles, sunburns, and a variety of other mild skin conditions.
Cocoa butter is the perfect ingredient for making your own homemade soaps, lotions and creams.
Cocoa Butter Recipes
Cocoa butter is great for skincare, haircare and food and drink recipes!