What's the difference between cocoa and cacoa?

Learn the difference between cocoa and cacao powder, along with how you can use them in baking with this handy guide from Food Thoughts...

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What's the difference between cocoa and cacoa powder?

Both cocoa and cacao come from the same bean, but cocoa is roasted at a high temperature and then alkalised to give it a mellow, less bitter flavour.

Cacao is less processed, but to ensure you're buying the best quality product, look for cacao that's naturally prepared and non-alkalised and made from superior beans.

At Food Thoughts, the beans we use in all our products are classed as ‘fino de aroma’, which puts them in the top 8% of cocoa beans in the world.

With cocoa powder, look for options which are lightly alkalised, to ensure a deliciously deep flavour in bakes.

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Check cocoa powder for added ingredients...

Some cocoa powders have added ingredients, such as sugar, which can make baking with them trickier. At Food Thoughts, we believe in giving bakers more control, so our 100% organic cocoa powder contains no added sugar, additives or flavourings and we use a mix of Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero cocoa beans – all classed as ‘fino de aroma’ cocoa beans – to ensure depth of flavour.

How can I use cocoa?

Cocoa is perfect for creating sweeter treats such as cakes, brownies and other desserts.

How can I use cacao?

You can use cacao powder in much the same way as cocoa powder – just remember that it does have a stronger, more bitter taste. You can use it in a range of bakes – we love it in recipes such as our Chocolate & Peanut Butter Tart and Chocolate Orange Oatmeal Bakes.

You might also want to try cacao nibs, which are gently roasted and crushed cacao beans. They’re rich in flavour and can be added to dishes to replace nuts or chocolate chips.

Can I substitute cacao for cocoa?

You can use cacao powder instead of cocoa, but it does have a more bitter taste, so be sure to check it'll work with the other flavours in your bake.

Is cocoa vegan?

Both cacao and pure cocoa are vegan. They’re also free from soy and gluten. However, some brands do add milk protein and other ingredients to their cocoa powder so always check the label.

Check if products are fairly traded...

Be considerate of the production methods of cocoa beans and help improve working and living conditions of farmers and their families, by trying to buy fairly traded, organic cocoa and cacao.


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