Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a pale-yellow, edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It is used to make chocolate, as well as some ointments, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals. Cocoa butter has a cocoa flavor and aroma. Its best-known attribute is its melting point, which is just below human body temperature.
Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cocoa beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of the residue is cocoa butter. Chocolate liquor is pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids. The Broma process is used to extract cocoa butter from ground cocoa beans. Cocoa butter is sometimes deodorized to remove strong or undesirable tastes.
Cocoa butter contains a high proportion of saturated fats, derived from stearic and palmitic acids. Cocoa butter, unlike cocoa solids, has no more than trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine.
|Arachidic acid (C20:0)||1.0%|
|Linoleic acid (C18:2)||3.2%|
|Oleic acid (C18:1)||34.5%|
|Palmitic acid (C16:0)||26.0%|
|Palmitoleic acid (C16:1)||0.3%|
|Stearic acid (C18:0)||34.5%|
|Other Fatty Acids||0.5%|
Some food manufacturers substitute less expensive materials such as vegetable oils and fats in place of cocoa butter. Several analytical methods exist for testing for diluted cocoa butter. Adulterated cocoa butter is indicated by its lighter color and its diminished fluorescence upon ultraviolet illumination. Unlike cocoa butter, adulterated fat tends to smear and have a higher non-saponifiable content.
Cocoa butter is becoming increasingly costly. Substitutes have been designed to use as alternatives. In the United States, 100% cocoa butter must be used for the product to be called chocolate. The EU requires that alternative fats not exceed 5% of the total fat content.
Cocoa butter is a major ingredient in practically all types of chocolates (white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate). This application continues to dominate consumption of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter can be found in most supermarkets, and the process of preparing small amounts of chocolate from cocoa butter and cocoa powder means that the practice of making chocolate at home has become relatively popular.
Pharmaceutical companies use cocoa butter's physical properties extensively. As a nontoxic solid at room temperature that melts at body temperature, it is considered an ideal base for medicinal suppositories.
Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known. This quality, coupled with natural antioxidants, prevents rancidity – giving it a storage life of two to five years. The velvety texture, pleasant fragrance and emollient properties of cocoa butter have made it a popular ingredient in products for the skin, such as soaps and lotions.
The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped or burned skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. Cocoa butter's moisturizing properties are also said to be effective for treating mouth sores. However, the largest clinical study regarding the effects of cocoa butter on stretch marks in pregnant women found that results were no different from a placebo.
The most common form of cocoa butter has a melting point of around 34–38 °C (93–101 °F), rendering solid chocolate at room temperature that readily melts once inside the mouth. Cocoa butter displays polymorphism, having α, γ, β', and β crystals, with melting points of 17, 23, 26, and 35–37 °C respectively. The production of chocolate typically uses only the β crystal for its high melting point. A uniform crystal structure will result in smooth texture, sheen, and snap. Overheating cocoa butter converts the structure to a less stable form that melts below room temperature. Given time, it will naturally return to the most stable β crystal form. The polymorphic transformation hypothesis attempts to explain chocolate bloom in terms of the differing crystal forms. Since bloomed chocolates are always found to contain the most stable polymorph of cocoa butter, this hypothesis holds that bloom occurs through the uncontrolled polymorphic transformation of cocoa butter from a less stable form to the most stable form.