January 29, 2022

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the words "cacao" and "cocoa." Many people mistakenly pronounce them the same way, and many believe that they are interchangeable. However, this is not the case! Cacao and cocoa are actually two very different things. 

Cacao pronunciation: kuh-KOW-wuh

This blog post will explain the difference between cacao and cocoa and clear up any misinformation that you may have heard. We'll also talk about dutch vs. natural cacao powder, so you can make an informed decision when choosing which one to use.

So, what is the difference between cacao and cocoa? Cacao refers to the raw, unprocessed pod and bean from the Theobroma cacao tree. Cocoa refers to the processed form of cacao used to make chocolate products. Cacao beans are fermented, dried, and crushed creating cocoa nibs then ground into a " cocoa mass paste." This cocoa mass is then blended with sugar, milk, and other ingredients to make various chocolate products. The distinction is made at this point between cacao and cocoa (Raw Cacao, Processed Cocoa); You may see raw cacao on packaging but unless you eat the pulp and beans directly from a cacao pod, you're not eating raw cacao. 

Cocoa powder

There are two main types of cacao powder- Dutched and Undutched (Natural). Dutch cacao powder is made with beans washed with an alkali solution to neutralize acidity, while natural cacao powder has not. Alkalizing cocoa makes it darker in color, mellower in flavor, and dissolves easily into liquids. Natual cacao power is acidic and bitter with an intense chocolate flavor.

So, which type of cocoa powder should you use? If you want a more intense chocolate flavor, natural cacao powder is the way to go. However, Dutch cocoa powder is better if you prefer a milder taste. Recipes that do not call for baking soda or baking powder can use either Natural or dutch cocoa powers. In bind natural cocoa powered can be used in recipes calling for dutch cocoa, but dutch can not be a substitute for recipes calling for natural cocoa due to the likely need of natural acid. 

Cacao and cocoa are two very different things, so it's essential to know the difference between them. Now that you have a better understanding of the two, you can make an informed decision when choosing which type of cacao powder is right for you. Thanks for reading!

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