This week’s WTF is inspired by one of my lovely readers, Serafin, who has a few questions about cacao butter.
I mention cacao butter in my popular No Bake Paleo Chocolate Protein Bar recipe; but it is a slightly tricky ingredient to find and use. So thanks Serafin for your email!
WTF is cacao butter?
Cacao (pronounced ‘ka-cow’) butter is the fat that is extracted from cacao beans after they are ground to a paste. When done properly, this is a cold-press process (when heat is used, it destroys all the good-for-you enzymes). This process also produces raw cacao powder, which I cover in a WTF post here.
You can buy it in packets of blocks, shards and even little ‘buttons’. It’s very solid at room temperature, meaning it requires more oomph to melt it than, say, coconut oil. But the good news is that it will do a great job of holding your protein bars together!
It’s pale yellow in colour, and has an extremely rich chocolately smell and taste. Amazing.
You said cacao butter will take my paleo protein bars to the “next level”. How much exactly should I be using, and how do I measure it?
Because cacao butter is quite rich, I would start by substituting it for half the amount of fat you’re using (so for example, use half coconut oil, half cacao butter).
My recipe says to use ‘half a cup’ of fat. As cacao butter is a solid, I just chop off a few chunks, throw it in a little saucepan with a hunk of butter and a few spoonfuls of coconut oil and melt it all together, before adding it to the dry ingredients.
(For raw food purists, the best way to melt it is to put the cacao butter in a heat-proof bowl and stand the bowl in boiled water, stirring occasionally until it melts.)
The cool thing about this recipe is that the quantities don’t need to be exact, so just trust yourself and eyeball the measurements!
Do you have any good links for recipes that use it?
Sarah Britton from My New Roots does some brilliant stuff with cacao butter:
Check out Irena Macri’s Eat Drink Paleo:
I also found these over at Healthful Pursuit:
I believe you can also replace regular butter with cacao butter when you’re baking. But you do need to melt it first and work quickly so it doesn’t solidify at room temperature! If you want a non-Paleo treat, try these cacao butter cookies from Cupcake Project.
What else can you use cacao butter for?
Smear it all over your body! Yep, it’s an amazing moisturiser. Just grab a chunk and rub it all over yourself. Warning: you WILL smell like chocolate, so don’t be surprised if people try to lick you.
Where the fork do I find it?
Check your health food store. I know the Great Earth stores in Melbourne stock it, but it is quite expensive. I buy mine in blocks from iherb.com. This is also what came up when I searched for ‘cacao butter’ online:
Yes it is expensive, but as it’s so rich, you only need to use a little bit. And it has a very long shelf life (like 2-5 years), so don’t worry about it going off. (Plus, think about how much you spend on a nice moisturiser. This stuff is cheap by comparison. And it’s PURE!)
So I hope you’ve been inspired to try out this unusual ingredient! Like Serafin, if you have a particular food that makes you go “WTF is that?!”, just let me know and I may very well feature it in my next WTF post!