Cocoa Butter

The components of chocolate have and will always intrigue me. I guess that’s just one of the many reasons for my obsession with it! One of the components that has many facets is cocoa butter. An interesting and necessary ingredient in many things.

Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean.  Also known as oil of theobroma.  It is faint yellowish in color, and while it is extracted from chocolate, it has a bland taste and only a faint chocolate smell.  It is edible and is used in making white chocolate (not really chocoalte) and certain confections, but has many uses beyond the kitchen. The most desirable quality of cocoa butter is its stability as a fat, containing natural antioxidants that also preserve it well.  Cocoa butter has a melting point just below average body temperature, which is what causes chocolate to remain solid at room temperature, but melt in the mouth. It gives a smooth texture to many confections containing chocolate and is often used by culinary experts in a baking capacity.

Cocoa butter is also used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. In the pharmaceutical industry, cocoa butter is used in the making of suppositories and oral medications in capsule form. This should make you feel better about putting in suppositories! It has the ability to retain a molded shape while containing commonly used medicinal chemicals without unstable reactions. The use of cocoa butter as an inactive ingredient in capsules and suppositories is equally desirable because it is safe.

Cocoa butter is often found as an additive to cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, but it is also a natural emollient making it ideal for lotions and lip balms. The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. The fact that is a natural preservative and has a faintly pleasant aroma further lends benefits to its cosmetic uses. Some people believe that cocoa butter has the ability to reduce or diminish the appearance of scars. However, some argue that this is a theory that is yet proven. It is said to promote elasticity in the skin and will aid in the healing of chapped skin if it is used regularly. Cocoa butter is often mistakenly used by people to expedite a suntan and while it will enhance a natural tan, it does not have a sun protection factor (SPF). Whatever the verdict on these “theories”, one thing is for certain; cocoa butter is not harmful to you.

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