The ingredient has uses far beyond beauty products.
You’ve likely heard of cocoa butter in relation to beauty products and skincare. But cocoa butter is, in fact, completely edible—and not uncommon to find in baking. The process of making it begins with the cocoa plant. Cocoa pods grow from the plant, and the fleshy fruit within the pods contains beans that are harvested, cleaned, and roasted.
Once roasted, the shells of the beans are stripped, leaving what is known as cocoa nibs, comprised of almost equal proportions cocoa butter and cocoa solids. The nibs are ground into a smooth paste known as cocoa liquor. This liquor is pressed to expell the fat (cocoa butter) in the same way you would make any type of plant-based oil. What remains after the pressing are the cocoa solids, which are mixed with cocoa butter in different proportions to make the chocolate we know and love.
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White chocolate is made up of cocoa butter mixed with sugar, milk or milk powder, and vanilla. However, it isn’t uncommon to use pure cocoa butter in your baking recipes. Since cocoa butter is solid at room temperature but melts close to body temperature, it’s a perfect fat for any confection that you want to melt in your mouth. If you get your hands on cocoa butter (available at many health food stores and on Amazon.com), try using it in your next batch of truffles or brownies as a rich alternative to butter.