Cocoa Butter is vegan and dairy-free and is great for both savory and sweet recipes. The fat content of the cocoa bean is a highly-stable vegetable fat that remains solid at room temperature but melts right around body temperature, responsible for the melt-in-your-mouth quality of chocolate. Chocolate is essentially cocoa butter that has been recombined with cocoa solids like cocoa powder. While cocoa butter is itself a dairy-free fat, many chocolate products contain dairy ingredients such as casein, whey, milk powder, milk solids or traces of milk, so label-reading is definitely a necessity for dairy-free and vegan chocolate-lovers.
Cocoa butter is also used to make white chocolate, and to make candies shiny as well. Because of its high stability, cocoa butter is also used in a variety of health and beauty products as well, such as lotions, facial products, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
How to Use Cocoa Butter for Dairy-Free Cooking
Pure cocoa butter can be brittle and hard to handle if you're not used to it. To use it in its purest form for dairy-free cooking, you'll have to be careful. Cocoa butter has a very high melting point making it hard and brittle at room temperature which is a turn off for many to use for vegan and dairy-free cooking. It is used to thin chocolate as it is one of the main ingredients in chocolate, but can also be used to fry or saute. You can even try a dairy-free and soy-free white chocolate with the proper amount of white chocolate. If frying or sauteing, cocoa butter should be purchased grated as it cannot be scooped at room temperature.
How to Store Cocoa Butter
Though it is solid at room temperature, placing cocoa butter into your hands will melt it easily. Some use a scoop or other means to transfer cocoa butter to a pan for cooking or afterward to store cocoa butter to prevent the melting in hand that will occur. When you are ready to store it, use an air-tight plastic container.
Cocoa butter can be kept in the refrigerator for anywhere between 2 and 5 years in an air-tight container.
Where to Find Pure Cocoa Butter
Many stores carry cocoa butter with other additives in it such as petroleum jelly or essential oils, but pure cocoa butter is easy to find as well if you know here to go. Organic health food stores, well-stocked beauty and skin care stores as well as online retailers and of course Amazon are some sources to find pure cocoa butter. Once you know how to use it, it is best to buy it pure so that you can use it for all the benefits it has including for skin and cook for cooking. If you only buy it for one of the other, you'll likely pay more and get less pure cocoa butter.