Cocoa butter is the edible fat derived from the cacao bean. Solid at room temperature and white to pale yellow in color, cocoa butter has a slight chocolate taste and aroma. To obtain cocoa butter, cacao beans are ground, then either pressed or warmed to separate the fat from the cocoa solids. Cocoa butter is then later used in the manufacture of chocolate candy and also has applications in commercial baking and food production.
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Cocoa butter consists of 100 percent fat and contains no proteins or carbohydrates. There are 248 calories in 1 oz. of cocoa butter, which delivers 43 percent of the total recommended fat intake per day for the average adult. Cocoa butter contains no dietary fiber or cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
A single ounce of cocoa butter contains almost 7 mcg of vitamin K or approximately 10 percent of the daily recommended intake of that vitamin for the average adult. The same measure holds 0.5 mg of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, or 3 percent of the daily intake. There are no appreciable amounts of dietary minerals in cocoa butter.
High amounts of saturated fat in the diet can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Over 60 percent of cocoa butter is saturated fat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the fats in cocoa butter consist of equal amounts of unsaturated oleic and saturated stearic and palmitic acids. Of these, palmitic acid can increase blood levels of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the intake of saturated fats to less than 7 percent of the total daily intake.
Many oils spoil quickly at room temperature. Hydrogenating these oils significantly improves their shelf life and solidifies them, making them easier to store. Unfortunately, the hydrogenation process also introduces trans fats, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. While cocoa butter has a melting point above room temperature that allows it to solidify naturally, it is not hydrogenated and does not contain trans fats.
Caffeine and theobromine are chemical stimulants that occur in significant amounts in chocolate, particularly dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Cocoa butter, however, contains only trace amounts of these chemical stimulants, which remain in the cocoa solids during the separation process.
While the name implies that cocoa butter it is a type of real butter, the Food and Drug Administration classifies butter as a dairy product made from milk or cream. Cocoa butter, though, is a pure vegetable oil derived from the beans of the cacao plant.