This Super-Healthy Ingredient Is The Secret To Making Everything Taste Like White Chocolate
If you're in the wellness world, you're likely already familiar with raw cacao, the powdered brown substance that makes healthy food taste like chocolate, whether you're making actual brownies or just a dessert-inspired smoothie. This makes sense—raw cacao is derived from the cacao bean. Cacao beans are fermented, dried, roasted, then removed from their shells, at which point they become cacao nibs, which are a great chocolate chip dupe. The nibs are milled into cocoa liquor, which is then pressed to extract the cocoa solids from the fat, which are milled into the cacao powder you know and love. The fat, though, is what we're interested in today—that's cacao butter.
Cacao butter, or cocoa butter, is still somewhat of a secret in the wellness world, despite boasting a number of healthy properties that can rival the more well-known cacao powder. One tablespoon of cacao butter has 27.1 mg of phytosterols1, a compound that's been found in studies to help lower bad cholesterol levels. It's also been found to be anti-inflammatory in a number of studies.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that cacao butter is the culinary secret to making healthy dishes taste like white chocolate. Its subtle, creamy flavor is the perfect stand-in for the milk-and-sugar-laden white chocolates on the market, and it can even impart its white chocolaty flavor in non-sweets. Want a white chocolate latte? Melt a tablespoon or so of cacao butter and blend it with the rest of your ingredients. White-chocolate banana bread? Melt cacao butter and sub it for whatever fat the recipe calls for. If you simply want white chocolate bars, you can blend melted cacao butter with coconut milk powder and a sweetener of your choice before spreading it in a thin layer on parchment paper and letting it cool. If you want to make your own dark chocolate bar, you can blend melted cacao butter with cacao powder and a sweetener of your choice and do the same.
Cacao butter can also work well in savory dishes—it goes particularly well with basil, peppercorns, green peas, roasted cauliflower, and flaky fish dishes. Experimenting with cacao butter can yield unexpected, exciting results and make you excited about getting into the kitchen.
One caveat—while cacao butter is healthy (keto diet fans, in particular, laud the substance), it's still high in saturated fat and shouldn't be eaten in high amounts daily. But don't worry—if you have any left over, you can always use cacao butter in its more common form, as a sweet-smelling moisturizer for dry or chapped skin.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.