If you’re a chocolate fan who’s going dairy free, you’ll inevitably have some research to do. While we have an entire article dedicated to dairy free chocolate (find it here), today we’re focusing on cocoa butter. Let’s take a deep dive into the ingredient, it’s uses, and most importantly, if it’s dairy free.
So, Does Cocoa Butter Have Dairy?
Despite the name, cocoa butter does not have dairy in it. It is completely plant based on its own. Cocoa butter is an edible fat that is extracted from cocoa beans. It’s pale yellow in color and is a solid when stored at room temperature. It melts easily, even when just applied to skin. It is the “butter” part of the cocoa bean – fatty and melty, just like its namesake.
How Cocoa Butter is Made
Cocoa beans, when first harvested, are fermented, dried, and finally roasted. Afterwards, the beans are pressed in order to remove the fat, which is what is used to make cocoa butter. Whatever is left over from the bean is crushed into cocoa powder.
Uses of Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter has plenty of uses, in food and in skin care. It’s usually sold as a large block, which you can then break up and melt down. For this reason, when working with cocoa butter, it’s best to use a food scale rather than try to melt it and measure it.
Cocoa Butter in Cooking – You can make your own chocolate, fairly easily, with cocoa butter. Generally speaking, you’ll just need cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and a sweetener of choice. Some recipes call for extras like milk (or milk alternative), salt, vanilla, and other flavorings. We love this recipe from A Saucy Kitchen, which provides step by step instructions on how to use cocoa butter successfully to make your own chocolate.
Some people even make cookies from cocoa butter, like this recipe from Serious Eats. You’ll just need to swap out the butter for a dairy free option, and be sure to choose a dairy free chocolate. If you’re really feeling crafty, you can make your own dairy free butter, using cocoa butter as a base. It works because of the fatty, buttery traits that cocoa butter naturally has. Try this recipe from Vegan Baking.
Skin and Hair Care
Cocoa butter has been used by people for many years – in fact, it’s been used in medicine for 3,000 years. That’s right, the Aztecs and Mayans used it for medicinal purposes as well as a form of payment, way back when. And they were onto something – cocoa butter has been found to contain phytochemicals, which are natural plant compounds. They may slow skin aging and improve blood flow to your skin. They protect against aging and wrinkling by protecting the skin from the sun’s UV rays. Since cocoa butter is so high in fat, it forms a protective layer on skin which helps to hold in moisture and improve elasticity.
A lot of people use cocoa butter to smooth and blur wrinkles, scars, and any other marks on their skin. You’ve probably heard of cocoa butter creams for stretch marks, which can be used during or after pregnancy. Cocoa butter is a common ingredient in these types of creams, as it can help minimize or prevent stretch marks. It’s also known to promote healing when applied to rashes, dermatitis, and eczema.
If you’re looking to make some personal care products at home with cocoa butter, here are a few ideas to try:
- Homemade whipped body butter from Little Green Dot
- Cocoa butter cashmere body mousse from Soap Queen
- Natural belly balm for pregnant women from The Peasant’s Daughter
- 4 ways to use cocoa butter for hair from Naturally Curly
- Cocoa butter hair conditioner from Bold Sky
Pro tip: If you buy cocoa butter for cooking or to make a DIY skin care product, don’t be afraid to buy in bulk. According to Organic Facts, “One of the most important qualities of cocoa butter is its high stability as compared to other fats. This unique aspect gives it a very impressive shelf life of 2-5 years, which is even further improved by the antioxidants found in cocoa butter, thereby reducing the chances of the oil becoming rancid. You can find it in many forms, but it is still primarily consumed in chocolate. Its stability at room temperature but relatively low melting point also makes it an ideal base oil for suppositories and other medicinal creams.”
Although its name is deceiving, cocoa butter is totally dairy free. Not only can you eat chocolate with cocoa butter in it, but it’s actually better if it’s involved! Don’t limit yourself to chocolate – cocoa butter can be used in other dessert recipes, and even some savory ones, too. It’s well known as a powerful, natural moisturizer and skin soother. With cocoa butter, the possibilities are endless.
Have you ever cooked with cocoa butter? What about making a DIY self care product? Leave your recipe recommendations below!