I was lucky enough to be sent some awesome raw chocolate ingredients from Big Tree Farms – a sustainable cacao plant in Bali. They produce natural cacao ingredients which you can make into your own raw chocolate. Whilst my chocs are setting in the fridge, I thought I’d take some time to demystify the raw chocolate phenomena.
What is the difference between cacao and cocoa? Nothing. Cacao/cocoa is the same thing – the raw ingredient that chocolate is made from. ‘Cacao’ is the way it’s pronounced (and spelt) in places it usually originates – Peru and Bali for example. In Europe we are more likely to call it cocoa i.e cocoa butter (although we also might say ‘a hot cup of cocoa’ – which is a term for hot chocolate)! If you want to make raw chocolate, you must use raw cacao/cocoa ingredients. I tend to say ‘cacao’ as this is what I’m used to.
What is raw chocolate? It’s chocolate made with unroasted cacao beans – this locks in pretty much all of the nutritional content of the cacao. Roasting cacao beans is said to bring out the chocolate flavour. I tend to disagree as my raw chocolate tastes like chocolate for sure.
How do you get cacao butter? Cacao/cocoa butter is the fat which is squeezed from the bean. It’s white/yellowish in colour.
How do you get cacao powder? Cacao/cocoa powder is what remains of the bean when all of the butter is extracted – it’s then ground into a powder. This is brown in colour.
What is cacao paste? Paste is a mixture of the butter and powder before it gets separated into the above categories.
Can you use the cocoa shell? Yes! Cacao shell tea is divine. In Peru, I made a delicious sweet tea by brewing cacao shells with boiling water. It gives you a feint chocolate flavour. You could add honey to sweeten it too.
Raw chocolate? Why is it better than normal chocolate? The suggestions are that raw cacao is highly nutritious – containing all the essential amino acids that your body needs for growth and repair, plenty of antioxidants, magnesium and mood boosting chemicals. Like any plant based food, when you heat it up, the nutritional content becomes much less. Apparently there are over 1500 nutritional elements in raw cacao. When it’s roasted and heated, this narrows down to 5.
Personally, I feel that the main reason it is better is because raw chocolate is sweetened with a natural sugar – as opposed to refined sugar. If you look at the ingredients of raw chocolate bars, you’ll see things like coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar and stevia. At the end of the day, all sugar breaks down into glucose – whether natural or not – and that’s fair enough. However, by opting to consume chocolate with sweeteners that haven’t been stripped of their nutritional content, you’re giving them to your body instead. I like the analogy that if you’re going to have chocolate – have it with the best ingredients – that work in harmony with your body, in their most natural state and harvested with awareness. This also makes you more aware of what you’re putting into your system.
Finally, making raw chocolate yourself is the most wonderful process. It’s helped me over times of deep sadness. It brings people together – in that you want to share your goodies with others. It fills your house with the sumptuous fragrance of chocolate. You see chocolate as a sacred entity and savour each piece.
Can I recommend a sustainable, guaranteed raw brand? Yep! Try Big Tree Farms. In the UK, you can buy their cacao and coconut sugar online.
If you want more information about Raw Chocolate – have a look and listen of the following;