What Is Cocoa Butter and Can You Eat It?

Cocoa butter soap, lotion, shampoo, lip balm. The name is front and center in so many skincare and pharmaceutical products, and rightfully so. It’s an excellent source of moisturization and aids in healing skin conditions like eczema. But we here at Sporked look at the name and see two food words: cocoa and butter. That has to mean we can eat it, right?!

What is cocoa butter?

Like traditional milk butters, cocoa butter is made from fat. However, it is the fat from the cacao bean, not from an animal. On its own, cocoa butter looks and feels a lot like regular butter; it’s pale yellow and has a similar melting point. Putting the two side by side, you might not know the difference. That is, until you gave it a whiff; cocoa butter has the unmistakable fragrance of chocolate.

How is cocoa butter made?

There’s a lot that happens before cocoa butter finally gets made. After cacao beans are harvested, they are fermented, dried, and roasted. The beans are then separated into two parts: the inedible hull and the yummy stuff called nibs. (These days, you can find cocoa nibs for sale as a topping for frozen yogurt or acai bowls, or as an ingredient in trail mix or granola.) But we’re still a long way from cocoa butter.

The nibs are ground into a powder called cocoa mass, which is then liquified into something cocoa liquor. That liquid is put into a hydraulic press, which squeezes out all the fat, resulting in chocolate solids and, finally, cocoa butter.

You’ve now seen the word “cocoa” enough times that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. 

Can you eat cocoa butter?

Any time you eat chocolate, you are eating cocoa butter! That’s because, much like Dr. Frankenstein stitching a body back together, commercially available chocolate is made from various pieces of the processed cocoa bean. The cocoa liquor is mixed back in with the cocoa butter, along with sugar and milk (if milk chocolate is the end goal).

Cocoa butter is the chocolate ingredient that accounts for its melting capabilities. It’s why those chocolate chips get all gooey in a chocolate chip cookie.  

Is cocoa butter vegan? 

Straight-up cocoa butter is vegan, since it is derived strictly from plant material. 

Is cocoa butter dairy? 

If you’re looking at pure cocoa butter then you’re looking at a pure, dairy-free product since it is entirely plant-based. 

Is cocoa butter chocolate?

Cocoa butter is “chocolate-ish.” It’s a component of chocolate and has the smell of chocolate, but eating it on its own will not be as satisfying as a Hershey bar.

Does cocoa butter have caffeine?

While cocoa beans do have natural caffeine, cocoa butter is actually caffeine free! That’s because in the extensive processing of the bean, the caffeine is extracted in the pressing of the liquor; the fat comes out while the caffeine stays in the solids.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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