Good news-- yes, cocoa butter is dairy free! While many in the dairy-free and vegan communities see the word butter and assume that cocoa butter contains milk, this is not the case. Cocoa butter is actually the fat portion of the cocoa bean, is a completely vegetarian fat source. It this fat which is directly responsible for the melt-in-your-mouth quality of chocolate, which is essentially cocoa butter that has been recombined with cocoa solids like cocoa powder.
Uses for Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is a versatile beauty tool. It's an excellent moisturizer. It's often recommended for use on scars and stretch marks because it can actually help heal skin. Even better it's all natural which means you're not putting any harsh chemicals on your skin. Although those with sensitive skin should always make they are using pure cocoa butter. Cocoa butter's healing and moisturizing properties also make it a good burn salve. It can be used similarly to the aloe vera plant. You can even use it to treat minor rashes. However, make sure you only use pure cocoa butter for any first aid treatments. Added alcohol and fragrances can harm a burn.
Cocoa butter also works as a wonderful lip balm. It's moisturizing qualities also make it a great shaving cream. If you're looking to prevent razor burns rub more cocoa butter on your skin when you're done it will help sooth your skin.
For those who like to get crafty, many DIY soap and moisturizer recipes use cocoa butter as a base. Personalized moisturizers make great cost effective gifts.
So Why Are Some Chocolate Bars Labeled Dairy-Free?
Well, unfortunately, many chocolate manufacturers add dairy-derived ingredients such as casein, whey, milk solids, milk powder and other ingredients to their chocolate bars, or their chocolates are processed in a facility that also processes milk products and, as a result, contains traces of dairy.
If you're looking for vegan chocolate, stick to dark chocolate and be sure to check the label.
Cooking With Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter has many of the same health benefits as eating a nice bite of dark chocolate. It will also give your dish just a hint of a chocolate flavor. Because of this cocoa butter is often used as a substitute for regular butter in desert dishes to add an extra sweet kick. Another benefit of cooking with cocoa butter is that it burns at very high temperature. This means you can cook your meat on a higher flame without worrying about burning the butter.
Health Benefits of Eating Cocoa Butter
While most people prefer to get their cocoa from dark chocolate cocoa butter has similar health benefits. They're full of antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, copper, and manganese among others! Studies have shown that cocoa butter also helps boost heart health by lowering blood pressure. Similar studies also say it aids with the immune system. However, cocoa butter is high in fat and must be consumed in moderation like all good things.