For many years cocoa butter was something you read on an ingredient label. These days, it pops up more and more in health food stores as well as in recipes for yummy desserts. It is all part of the growing interest in this beloved plant we call chocolate. Considered a vegetable fat, cocoa butter is a pure, stable fat that is pressed out of cacao beans. It has been used for ages as the solid to make white chocolate, as well as other chocolate bars. It holds together at room temperature providing that ideal candy bar crispness. It has a mild chocolate taste and flavor, and carries only trace amounts of the caffeine, theobromine, or nutritive elements found in chocolate.
Cocoa butter is ideal for beauty care products as well since it stays solid at room temperature, has naturally occurring antioxidants which prevent rancidity (giving it a shelf life of years), and melts onto the skin in a velvety smooth, pleasing way. Cocoa butter is perfect for salves, lotions, lip balm, and some make up.
The Cacao Difference
In recent years, to keep up with the growing interest in raw foods, manufacturers are producing raw cacao butter. The essence is the same, but the process is slowed down to ensure temperatures don't exceed about 115°F. The reason for the difference in spelling is probably just to match what raw foodists have been seeing for years on product labels. Cacao has always been the word of choice for raw food products to distinguish itself from the roasted bean products.