Cocoa butter is a plant-based fat that’s better known for smoothing rough, parched skin than for cooking. However, top chefs have always known the value of cocoa butter for baking and sauteing specialty dishes. As shoppers embrace dairy-free food options, cocoa butter is getting more than a second glance from home cooks. Whether one just wants a rich substitute for dairy butter for a favorite dish or has a desire to re-create a culinary masterpiece of a top chef, here are some good reasons to use cocoa butter for cooking.
High Smoke Point
Fats are tasty elements of cooking. They elevate ordinary flavors to decadent experiences. When sauteing or frying, there’s a temperature where a fat starts to burn. This is its smoke point. Burned oil that starts to smoke imparts a bitter, burnt flavor to foods. Cocoa butter has a high smoke point. One can saute with cocoa butter at high temperatures, and it won’t burn.
Giant-Sized Nutrient Profile…for a Fat
Fats are usually an afterthought when it comes to nutrients. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are the real superstars. While cocoa butter doesn’t come close to the vitamin content of these vegetables, it does a stir-fry dish justice by bringing nominal amounts of Vitamins K and E to the table. Cocoa butter is also rich in fatty acids and plant sterols.
Mildly Sweet Flavor, Heady Chocolate Aroma
Cocoa butter’s mildly sweet flavor profile makes it a great choice for sweet and savory dishes. Experienced cooks use cocoa butter to replace dairy butter in a variety of dishes from roasted cauliflower to curries. While cocoa butter doesn’t have an overpowering chocolate flavor, it does have a pleasant chocolate aroma that just enhances treats such as pastries, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.
Long Storage Shelf Life
Top chefs and experienced home cooks know that rancid oils can turn a must-do recipe into a please don’t. Many oils go bad quickly even under ideal storage environments. Cocoa butter stays fresh for years when stored in a cool, dry environment.
Vegan sweet treats make living a plant-based lifestyle a little less boring. Many vegan chefs seek to makeover favorite candies, confections, and baked goods using vegan butter or coconut oil. Many times, the flavor is on point, but the texture is off. Cocoa butter is what gives that smooth, melt-in-your-mouth feel to candies, truffles, and ganache toppings. It’s the new go-to vegan butter base for buttercream frostings since it stays firm at room temperature and up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
While this versatile vegan butter isn’t impossible to find online or at specialty stores, those who want to use cocoa butter for cooking need to consider the source for this item. Cooks will want cocoa butter that’s labeled “pure cocoa butter.” Additives will impact the butter’s flavor, texture, and nutrient profile. Also, top chefs and savvy home cooks look for food-grade cocoa butter to ensure that their dishes are safe for consumption.