Monday, August 15, 2016

What is Cocoa Butter? What Kind of Cocoa Butter Can Be Used in Chocolate?

Over the last few weeks, I have been taking a little time to learn about cocoa butter. Although I have been using it for a few years to either 'seed' my chocolate (a way of tempering chocolate), to make 'home-made' bean-to-bar chocolate with a variety of grinders and refiners, and to use in my EZtemper (which I am pretty sure I can no longer live without), I have not really spent a lot of time researching the differences in cocoa butter, and the best types to use in chocolate making. Until now, that is.

I am fascinated with what I have learned. And I want to share these tidbits of information with you, which will hopefully save you some time, in case you are following  a similar chocolate-making path (and chocolate-knowledge-gathering adventure) as me.

So let's get started with the basics...

What is Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa butter is the fat pressed from of the cocoa bean. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel's book, The Chocolate Connoisseur, "50-55% of a cocoa bean's weight represents cocoa butter."* And because the cost of extraction is so high, cocoa butter is generally the most expensive ingredient in chocolate.

Why is Cocoa Butter Important and how does it Affect Chocolate Making?

Cocoa butter is used by chocolate makers, who roast cocoa beans, and then grind the beans up with sugar and added cocoa butter (in addition to the amount present in the cocoa beans), to create chocolate 'from scratch'. It is added to enhance the texture of the chocolate. According to Peter P. Greweling, in his book Chocolates and Confections, cocoa butter is "a crucial part of chocolate for the mouthfeel it provides and for its working characteristics."+   Chocolate makers also use varying amounts of it to create their desired mouthfeel. Simply taste a Bonnat dark-milk 65% chocolate bar, and you will see how the addition of cocoa butter can affect the mouthfeel of the chocolate.

Chocolatiers, who work with chocolate to create confections, truffles, and artistic chocolate pieces, might add cocoa butter to the chocolate they buy to "increase viscosity and give chocolate a smooth texture"*.  This makes it easier to create thinner or thicker shells for truffles and ganaches, depending on the desired outcome.

Cocoa butter can also have other effects on the final chocolate product.  According to Greweling, "cocoa butters are not all identical", with their main differences found in their melting points. Apparently, cocoa butter pressed from beans grown near the Equator have slightly higher melting points than cocoa butter from beans grown in more moderate climates. This means the chocolate made from beans grown closer to the Equator requires "slightly higher temperatures for tempering and handling" than chocolate made from beans grown in a cooler climate.+

Cocoa butter flavour can also differ in taste, depending on the origin. Therefore, if a chocolate recipe requires a lot of cocoa butter, a chocolate maker might want to consider the flavour of the cocoa butter.  This is discussed in detail below in the sections about deodorized and non deodorized cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter quality also plays a role, since the butter is often pressed from poor quality beans (the 'leftovers', which can also have mould and be overly acidic), so a chocolate maker must consider all of these factors and decide if and when to invest in a cocoa butter press (which are very expensive). There is a good thread on The Chocolate Life forum^ on this topic, discussing whether or not to use cocoa butter, non deodorized or deodorized cocoa butter, and whether to invest in a cocoa butter press.

What is Deodorized Cocoa Butter?

Deodorized cocoa butter means: "The cocoa butter is deodorized via steam being injected into the melted cocoa butter to "drive off" the volatile components which contribute to the odor. The product is then treated with diatomaceous earth (clays) which remove the color agents (it is basically an extremely fine filtration process) to create a nice, white butter" (ref or see below for full link^^).

You might use deodorized cocoa butter in chocolate making when you are making single origin chocolate from, say, Madagascar, Vietnam, or any other single origin/single plantation beans, and you do not have a cocoa butter press to extract cocoa butter from the same beans, nor can you acquire it. So you would use deodorized cocoa butter in small amounts to ensure the origin flavour of the beans is the featured flavour. If you use non deodorized cocoa butter instead of deodorized cocoa butter, pressed from beans of a different origin, you could potentially drown out the original natural flavours of the origin beans that you are working with.

What is Non Deodorized Cocoa Butter?

Non Deodorized cocoa butter is natural, unrefined, and holds its original yellow-ish colour. It also  holds many of the acidic flavours of the cocoa bean, as well as regional 'origin' flavours. When choosing this cocoa butter, you must test it with the beans you are using, particularly if the cocoa beans are of a different origin than the cocoa butter, because you will be blending flavours. Also, non deodorized cocoa butter can have strong flavours, so you may want to test many different kinds/brands to choose a taste that works for you and your final product.

Where Can You Buy Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa Butter does not come cheap. Keep in mind that cacao beans are pricey to begin with, and the fat pressed from them requires large machinery to get a good yield. Deodorizing it is an extra step that also costs time and money.

Cacao Barry sells Deodorized Cocoa Butter in 3kg buckets. No matter where you are located, there is likely a wholesaler near you who stocks it. For instance, in Ontario (Canada), I can buy Cacao Barry deodorized cocoa butter from Signature Fine Foods (see product catalogue here) for $84.50 for a 3kg pail,  and from for $98.79 per pail.

These days, most health food stores, as well as the health section in large grocery stores, sell organic, unrefined, non deodorized cocoa butter. In fact, Bulk Barn in Canada sells the Organic Traditions brand of Cocoa Butter, as does (yikes for $24.94, much higher than at Bulk Barn) as well as another organic and unrefined kind of cocoa butter of Vietnamese origin at a better price (click here to see) or buy it direct from the wholesaler here. You can also buy organic, raw cocoa butter in small bags or in bulk from Upaya Naturals (with free shipping on orders over $100). In Canada, you can buy Mexican-origin bulk cocoa butter from The Mexican Arabica Bean Company in Toronto (

If you Google 'cocoa butter bulk', you will find a host of web sites that sell all types of cocoa butter in your area. Good luck!


*Chloe Doutre-Roussel, The Chocolate Connoisseur, page 206. Penguin Books Ltd., London, England, 2005.

+Peter P. Greweling, Chocolates and Confections, 2nd ed., page 27, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Hoboken, NJ), 2013.

^The Chocolate Life forum:



  1. Coco Butter is also good for Preganat Women and Teens then they are Pregnant for rubbing on there belly to cut down on the strek marks

    1. Let’s hope there not too many teens who need it for this purpose~

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