Botanical Name: theobroma cacao (pronounce kah-kow) - cultivar Criollo
Organic Matters is proud to be both the direct importer and sole distribution source for this outstanding, certified Fair Trade, organic, and 100% Arriba Criollo cacao from a farming cooperative supporting the livelihood of over 3000 small and sustainable cocoa growers.
The Incas considered cacao the “drink of gods” which gave rise to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink). Cocoa has been cultivated in Ecuador since the 17th century and and was the main product of export up to the 1920s when diseases struck, destroying crops everywhere. The Criollo variety of cacao beans is sourced from the native-born heirloom species thriving in the high-elevation volcanic soils of the Arriba Nacional forest of Ecuador. This ancient strain has been recovered thanks to the hard work and wisdom of many local farmers.
Qualities: The Criollo variety is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and flavor profile. Some claim that ”what the fine Arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer Criollo bean is to chocolate”.
After the ripe pod has been cut from the tree, it is opened, the rind discarded, and the pulp and seeds laid out for several days. During this time the pulp liquefies or “sweats” and fermentation starts which helps to unlock the full aroma of the cacao bean and softens its bitter taste. This fermentation process is usually followed by roasting yet our cacao beans remain unroasted - just sun-dried. For further processing, the raw bean is gently crushed and its thin skin removed such that only pieces or “nibs” remain. Cacao nibs are then slowly ground into a thick brown liquid called cacao paste (aka cacao mass or liquor) which is made up of cocoa butter (55-60%) with fine, suspended cocoa particles. This cacao paste is subsequently pressed until it separates into cacao butter and a cacao “cake” which is then ground to produce cacao powder.
Cacao is believed to contain high amounts of antioxidants such as Flavonoids and many other nutrients and minerals like Stearic and Oleic fatty acid, Anandamide (the bliss chemical), Theobromine, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Sulfur, PEA, Tryptophan, etc. The list of acclaimed health benefits goes on and on, including anti-inflammatory and heart protective properties, calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being, increase energy and fight chronic fatigue, anti-aging and appetite suppressant properties, reduce insulin resistance and sensitivity, improve kidney and stimulate bowel function, protect the skin and prevent tooth decay, improve cognitive function, as an aphrodisiac, and many more…
Common use: cacao butter (aka theobroma oil) is an edible, highly stable vegetable fat (about 60% saturated) that can be used in cooking as well as in skin products. It’s most common culinary application is in the creation of chocolate.
White Chocolate Truffles: melt 1cup cacao butter over the lowest heat possible. Add to a blender along with ¾cup cashew butter, 4-5Tbsp honey, 1tsp vanilla powder, and a pinch of salt. Blend on high until smooth. Place candy mould onto a cookie sheet and pour liquid white chocolate into candy moulds. Transfer to the freezer and enjoy when hardened.
Since cacao butter melts at room temperature and is rich in antioxidants and vitamins it is also a natural moisturizer with very soothing and hydrating properties for the skin. In the cosmetic industry, cacao butter is used as a thickening agent and a common ingredient in lipsticks, soaps, and emollient creams imbuing them with a subtle cocoa scent (unless deodorized).
Body Butter Recipe: In a double boiler or glass bowl, combine all ingredients except for the essential oils (½cup cacao butter, ½cup shea butter, ½cup coconut oil, ¼cup vegetable glycerin). Bring to medium heat and stir constantly until all ingredients are melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add 10-30 drops of your favorite organic essential oils. Move to fridge and let cool. Use a hand mixer to whip for 10 minutes until fluffy. Return to fridge for 10-15 minutes to set. Store in a glass jar with a lid and use as you would regular lotion or body butter. Enjoy!
Storage: best kept at room temperatures around 20C (68F), away from direct sunlight, protected from moisture, and tightly sealed. Thanks to a natural balance of antioxidants, raw cacao butter is one of the most stable fats with a shelf life of 2-5 years if stored properly.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This product has been packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and other potential allergens.