Cocoa Vs. Cacao: What Every Chocolate Lover Should Know
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If you've ever spent a minute or two exploring the candy aisle at the grocery store (guilty), you've definitely seen the words "cocoa" and "cacao" appear on several chocolate bar labels with variable percentages. Is there a difference between these two words, except for a few vowels?  There are quite a few distinctions between the two, but they do share one thing: chocolate.

Cacao and cocoa are often confused, and while they both serve as the foundation for chocolate, they are not interchangeable. In truth, cacao and cocoa have quite diverse flavour profiles, nutritional advantages, and culinary applications.

What's The Difference?

Theobroma cacao trees and the raw, unprocessed bean that is harvested from their fruit are referred to as cacao. Cacao is available as nibs, paste, and powder. It is unsweetened and has undergone minimal processing. Smashed cacao beans, or cacao nibs, are a common way to add texture to cuisine without adding a lot of flavour.

Following the crushing of cacao beans, cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted to create chocolate liquor, a non-alcoholic paste that is used to make cocoa powder. Chocolate drinks and confections are all flavoured with cocoa powder.

Flavour Profile

When comparing cacao to cocoa, there is a flavour difference that goes beyond simply how they are created. Its inherent acidity is adjusted and so it becomes a little more mellow due to the alkalizing procedure employed in the manufacturing of cocoa.

Cacao, on the other hand, preserves more of the original cacao bean flavour. This adds some intrigue and chocolate flavour.  But you'll also need to add some sweetness and other tastes to the taste to bring it into balance. In terms of flavour, cacao is a better choice if you're preparing raw sweets or something like protein snack balls.

Nutritional Value

Both cacao powder and unsweetened cocoa powder have a similar flavour when in their purest forms—that of unsweetened chocolate. The most significant differences are seen in their health benefits. Cacao powder with little processing is a rich source of fibre, minerals (potassium, magnesium, and iron), and those special antioxidants called flavanols that promote brain and cardiovascular health, according to a study by ResearchGate. It is a needless waste of nourishment when cacao is roasted to high degrees since many of these healthy components break down and become less noticeable in the powder. One of the primary causes of the growing trend of consumers substituting cacao goods for ordinary cocoa products in daily applications and recipes is the difference in nutritional content.

Can You Use Cacao In Place Of Cocoa?

Knowing that cacao has more nutrients than cocoa makes it seem sensible to use it instead of the sweeter, less healthy option when a recipe asks for it. Fortunately, this substitution usually works well. You may easily replace cocoa in recipes that call for it with organic cacao. When making this substitution, the only thing to remember is to use the exact medium that the recipe calls for. Make sure you use cacao powder rather than, say, cacao nibs if the recipe calls for it.