If you’re like us, you’ve probably stumbled across a recipe that called for cocoa or cacao and thought, what the hell is the difference? Or, you haven’t even registered there was a difference, and just tossed in the cocoa powder or cacao powder or some Swiss Miss, cause they’re basically the same thing, right?
Well, not exactly.
Chocolate is made from cocoa and cocoa is made from crushed cacao - that’s the basic equation. But, it’s a bit more complicated than that. So grab a square of dark chocolate and pull up a chair, time to delve into the difference between cocoa and cacao.
On the road to becoming chocolate, cacao seeds are grown on theTheobroma cacao tree - Greek for “food of the Gods” - in batches of 40-50 seeds per pod and surrounded by a sweet gooey pulp. It takes 4-5 months for a cacao pod to grow and several hundred mashed up beans to create 1 pound of chocolate. Once a cacao pod is harvested from the tree itundergoes a few steps:
All cacao beans are roasted, it’s thetemperature that’s the divider. Roasting beans on a low heat maintains the integrity and nutrition of the bean so it remains cacao. While high temperatures will degrade the nutritional profile but sweeten the end product and gain a new name, cocoa.
Cacao is the purest form and has a bitter taste. There are manyforms of cacao but these are the most popular:
Raw cacao is a superfood and in its powdered form hasfour times more antioxidants than goji berries! Cacao is more nutrient dense than its counterpart, cocoa.
Cocoa starts out the same as cacao but is treated to higher temperatures, creating a sweeter end product. This also means the health benefits of cocoa differ from that of cacao. Cocoa’s main forms are:
Raw cacao has aslew of health benefitsworth bragging about.
If you want toreap the benefits of this wonder food, low temperature and minimal processing to preserve the antioxidants and that superfood label. Here’s the undeniable truth: 100 grams of cacao powder hasan ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score of 95,500 while cocoa powder has 26,000 - just a wee bit of a difference.
If you’re going to swap out your baking cocoa for cacao, bear in mind that once you heat the powder it loses its potency. Our advice, try to maintain it’s natural integrity and find ways to eat it raw (trail mix, smoothies, no-bake desserts).
The double-C’s may start off together, like twins, growing together on the Theobroma cacao tree but like most twins, they’re never alike. One twin is sweet like cocoa while the other is a bit more original like cacao. In a nutshell, cacao is less processed and closer to its original form while cocoa is more processed for a sweeter taste.
Want to put all this new-found knowledge to good use? Then pick up ournew nutrition guide & recipe book and score dozens of delicious recipes and hundreds of clean eating tips.
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