Do you know the difference between cacao and cocoa powder? Not many people actually do, so don’t worry if you’re not sure of the difference — or if you’ve used the two interchangeably thinking they mean the same thing. Once I started to explore ingredients towards the end of my nutrition training, that was when I first learned what makes cacao different from cocoa powder. It’s all chocolate in the end, but it has to do with how the cacao beans are processed and become the powder we purchase on store shelves that matters.
So, why are we talking about cacao or cocoa powder in a nut butter blog ? Well, we strive to bring you recipes with wholesome ingredients that not only taste amazing, but also provide you with optimum nutrition. Therefore, knowing how to distinguish between those two powders will help you make better-informed ingredient choices based upon your health goals.
The process of making chocolate starts with cacao beans. Cacao is a plant native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. They produce a fruit called the cacao pod which houses 20 to 60 seeds, usually called cacao beans; they are embedded within a white pulp. The fruit, once ripened, is harvested and opened to remove the pulp with seeds. The pulp is placed in a bin and covered for fermentation to occur. During fermentation the pulp is converted into alcohol by the yeasts present in the air and heat. The beans are mixed several times during the process to increase oxygenation, which turns the alcohol into lactic and acetic acids. This process slowly changes the beans, converting them from having a bitter flavor to having more of the complex flavors that we know collectively as “chocolate.”
Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans, which allows some living enzymes in the cacao to remain active; however, this process removes the fat from the beans (We are talking about cacao butter, the substance used to make chocolate bars). Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is made when the cacao beans are roasted at a high temperature and then ground into fine powder. This also removes fat, as well as the living enzymes. Although cocoa powder may seem nutritionally inferior to cacao powder, they are both great sources of antioxidants, and cocoa powder is cheaper. Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean remain intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and a small amount of protein as well. When choosing to buy cocoa powder, stay away from cocoa mixes since those contain added sugar. Both powders are a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, so you can’t go wrong!
Now that you know the difference between the two powders, let’s add cacao powder to a healthy treat –shall we? Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter is the perfect flavor match for cacao powder. Their combination provides a creamy texture and rich flavor that makes this Double Chocolate Fudge Popsicle better than any other version out there! And here are some tips for making the recipe successfully: First, make sure you combine the sunflower seed butter and cacao powder well before adding other ingredients. Also, using a well ripened avocado is important to achieve the smooth texture of a fudgelike popsicle. And finally , make several batches because these treats will go quickly!
Double Chocolate Fudge Popsicle
1 tablespoon of Once Again Sunflower Butter
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder
1 cup of milk of your choice (use whole fat milk for creamier result)
½ of one avocado
Start with Once Again Sunflower Seed butter and mix in cacao powder. Once well mixed, add it to a blender and slowly add avocado and milk. You will have a thick mixture, Pour it into molds, filling each up only up halfway. Add a few chocolate chips to each, and then add the rest of the mixture, filling up the rest of each mold. Makes about 3 popsicles, depending on size of your mold.