The mere whiff of cacao butter sends a cavalry of hormones pelting through my veins like a pinball machine.
My chest swells and my nostrils levitate. It would be a tragedy to miss out on a cacao-butter-head-rush. You think I’m joking. I get regular online deliveries, and squeal louder than a One Direction front-row fan when the courier calls.
Cacao butter gives chocolate its mesmerizing call, and not the dark cacao pigment as is generally assumed. This tree butter is cream in colour, rock solid at room temperature, and intoxicatingly perfumed. One tablespoon, melted, will amplify any chocolate recipe and send your serotonin to another galaxy. Without it, you’d only reach the clouds.
Cacao powder is basically the by-product of making cacao butter. Here’s what happens in the heavenly lands that grow chocolate trees;
The cacao tree harvests hundreds of pods, enveloping lots of beans. Once ripened, the pods are broken to reveal the moist cacao beans.
In order to dry the beans, they are spread over hot roofs under the blazing sun. Once dried, the beans form a skin that needs to be removed before any further production can be done.
Here’s the ingenious part. The beans are then blasted against a wall, while a high-powered fan blows away the bean’s skin before they drop into a basket below. The smashed nibs are shipped to chocolate makers, or further pressed to form cacao butter and cacao powder. Groovy, huh?
Raw Chocolates, without the fuss
You can easily make these into probiotic chocolates, by adding high quality live strains of probiotics (I use Udo’s). 1 or 2 capsules, opened up into the mix is plenty.
1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs
sprinkle of sea salt flakes
just over 1/3 cup (85ml) melted cacao butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave (not coconut nectar or brown rice syrup)
1 tablespoon melted extra virgin coconut oil
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Start by chilling your chocolate mould in the freezer. I use a silicone ice cube tray from Dunnes. Works great.
Loosely sprinkle in the cacao nibs and a flurry of sea salt flakes.
Then slowly melt the cacao butter in a bain-marie until you get just over 1/3 cup (85ml). A bain-marie is basically a pot of gently simmering water with a heatproof bowl sitting on top in place of the lid. The contents of the bowl will melt gradually from the steam of the water underneath. Just make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
Using a fork, whisk in the syrup and melted coconut oil. Try not to skip the coconut oil, as it improves the mouthfeel of the final chocolate rather than imparting a coconut flavour.
Stir in the cacao powder, keeping the bowl warm to prevent it from seizing up. Work at speed!
Taste, and decide if you need a tiny bit more sweetness.
Pour into the moulds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps them set quickly before they get a chance to stratify and form layers (there are methods to avoid this, which involves special thermometers. But pah to that!)
Store in the fridge thereafter for up to six weeks. And send me some telepathic jubilation.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d love to hear your (kind) reviews on Amazon here. It would sure mean a lot. In return, I shall send you telepathic love bombs!
Night night, and thanks