Cacao is a bean from cacao plant. The scientific name of cacao is Theobroma cacao. Cacao pods are large in size, which grow from the limbs and trunk of the tree and the beans are seen inside the pods. When the pods are in the tree, it is known as cacao. And Cocoa is a term used for the cacao seed after it has been harvested. The beans, once harvested, are fermented and dried and these beans are known as cocoa. In other words, cocoa is the refined or processed product of cacao. Where cacao is raw and unadulterated, cocoa is cooked and adulterated. Organic raw cacao is my favorite!
Cacao is known to contain more than 300 compounds that include carbohydrates, fat, protein, copper, fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, sulphur and magnesium. But once the pods are heated, or processed, they lose much of their nutritional value.
Try making your own chocolates using raw cacoa as a treat and for the health benefits! I also add a tablespoon to smoothies for a satisfying chocolate flavor without all the added fats and sugar. Here’s a super simple recipe and be sure to check below for links to some other chocolate treat sensations we whip up at home.
Homemade Cacao Bark
¼ pound (4 ounces) of cocoa butter
¼ cup of organic raw cacao powder
1 ½ – 2 tablespoons of honey
½ of a vanilla bean pod (optional)
Melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler or in a bowl resting above a pot of hot water. Mix in the cacao, honey and vanilla bean scrapings. It’s now ready to pour in molds or my favorite way (and easiest) is to pour the mixture onto a dinner plate and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to harden.
Once it’s hardened I break it (or cut) into pieces and enjoy! Stores great in fridge for a couple weeks.
FOR EXTRA FUN: I add dried blueberries, cherries, cacao nibs, and raw sunflower seeds in the melted mixture to give myself a bit of variety. Super yummy too!
Check out my other chocolate fix recipes that are healthier choices over store-bought, processed junk! The taste difference is amazingly different…and it’s healthier. Who said eating healthy didn’t taste great? Not me! 🙂