We get this question a lot, and it’s no wonder – the difference between cacao and cocoa can be subtle and confusing (and don’t even get us started on the spelling…) So let’s try to get things straight.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate there is, and what you will often see used in many healthy or raw food recipes. It’s the product that we use in many of our recipes from our Healthy Desserts and Snacks class. It is much less processed that cocoa, which will give any ingredient an AA+ in our book. Cacao has a more bitter flavour than cocoa, so unless you have a taste for it, don’t go throwing down cacao nibs like smarties or you’ll be in for a rude shock!
Cocoa, on the other hand, is what you probably grew up with, and used in baking or your hot chocolates. While cacao is raw, cocoa is processed at a high temperature, and it is thought that it loses many of its nutrients in the process. When buying cocoa powder, look for plain cocoa powder — some cocoa products can deceptively contain a lot of hidden sugars and additives. We stick to cacao when we’re being super healthy, but we use cocoa in a lot of our favourite dessert recipes.
While the differences between cocoa and cacao are distinct, the two can generally be used interchangeably, although it may have an impact on the flavour of your dish.
If you’re looking for healthy recipes to utilise your cacao and cocoa, check out my cookbooks on Alyce Alexandra …
For now, you’re going to want to check out my Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream.
And these delicious TWC Chocolate Recipes: