It’s chocolate, but not as we know it. Cacao, the ‘chocolate superfood’, is your favourite treat – with more antioxidants, and fewer calories. Its rich, buttery flavour makes it a great addition in the kitchen.
What Is Cacao?
Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) has been revered for centuries, however only in recent years has it really swept the chocolate world. With numerous health benefits, it is often referred to as the ‘chocolate superfood’. These benefits are sadly not found in your average chocolate bar, but come from cacao.
All chocolate that we know and love comes from the same dried beans of the cacao pod (pictured). The key difference is that cacao is made from cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans, keeping most of the nutritional value intact. Cocoa is cacao powder that has been roasted at high temperatures and processed with an alkaline solution. This process results in a darker and richer flavour, but also alters the structure of naturally occurring enzymes, reducing the overall nutritional value.
Cacao is chocolate in its purest form. There are around 300% more antioxidants in cacao powder than in regular cocoa. It’s also rich in sulphur, magnesium, iron and flavonoids – which can help to lower blood pressure and increase ‘good’ cholesterol.
Cacao comes in three main forms: powder, beans and nibs. Cacao powder can be used in place of cocoa powder. It has a richer, more chocolatey flavour. Cacao beans can be peeled and eaten as a snack, or crushed to add to nut mixes. You can also lightly toast them and add to your coffee grinder with your coffee beans. Cacao nibs are skinless beans that have been roughly crushed into small nibs. The flavour is a rich, buttery chocolate and tastes great added to granola, crumble toppings and in baking.