Cocoa Butter, Inside & Out

I thought it was long overdue that I share why cocoa butter is one of nature’s best gifts.  Not only is it ideal for moisturizing your skin, but it plays a significant role in the chocolate we eat, and it’s a critical tool for chocolatiers.

Cocoa Butter Basics

The cacao bean is about 45% cocoa solids (also called cocoa mass) and 55% cocoa butter.  Cocoa butter is the fat content of the cacao bean, and because it is a vegetable fat, cocoa butter has no cholesterol.  It’s pale yellow in appearance and has a chocolate aroma.  It is one of the most stable fats (having a shelf life of between two to five years) and provides good omega fatty acids as well as antioxidants.

Cocoa butter for beauty use usually comes in large hunks.

Cocoa Butter

You can buy 100% natural or raw cocoa butter that has a lovely chocolate-ish aroma.  You can use it on its own to moisturize or melt it and blend it with other butters and oils to create a moisturizer.

Cocoa butter remains solid at room temperature but melts quickly at 90-93°F, just below body temperature. This is why, when applied topically, cocoa butter melts nicely on your skin and creates a barrier between your skin and the environment to retain your skin’s moisture.

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Cacao Masala Chai Recipe

In the last few years, chai has made a regular reappearance in my life.  Most times, I’ll make a quick chai with only two spices (cardamom and cloves), but other times, I’ll want more depth to my chai.  Here’s a recipe for a brisk chai with subtle notes of chocolate.

Teamugs

As a kid, chai was a daily treat for my sister and I growing up in Pakistan.  After our parents and grandparents woke up from a late afternoon nap, chai was served to the adults, and my sister and I always managed to get at least half a cup each.  As the adults would sit in chairs in the living room to sip their chai and talk, my sister and I would plop down on the floor and cozy up next to the coffee table (or is it a chai table if chai is being served?), which was the perfect height when we were seated on the floor.  It also put us in the middle of the action—the adults had to reach around us to get their chai and we got to hear all the gossip.

We loved chai because we turned it into a sweet treat by adding lots of sugar.  Dessert before dinner!  It was also game time for me.  I played the game of dipping biscuits into the chai and figuring out how many times and how deep I could dunk the biscuit into the chai before it would break off and fall into the chai.  The biscuits were delicious, and I’m not even sure I drank the chai each time.

When I left my parents’ home in Miami, chai stopped being part of my routine, and coffee took its place.  When I visited my parents or family, I’d drink a cup or two of chai if some was already being made for others, but I only occasionally made a cup for myself.  I still drink coffee in the mornings because I can grab it on the go.  (I’m in search of a chai cart or chai wallah in DC.)  But, in the evenings, when I want something warm and need a little caffeine to power me through but not keep me up all night, I’ve been making chai.  I also make chai on weekend mornings when I have time to savor it.

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