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.

Continue reading

Sandals or Chocolate?

As it starts to get consistently warmer in the DC area (though this past Memorial Day weekend was an exception), my Miami roots are excited to be able to wear sandals daily, but I find myself getting worked up about how the warmer weather and higher humidity will impact working with chocolate.

I grew up in Miami, so all I knew for years was flip-flops and sandals—anything that didn’t suffocate my feet.  In college, I happily walked around the University of Miami campus amongst palm trees, under sunny skies, and in flip-flops.  Then I moved to DC for law school, and for the first few years in DC, as fall began turning to winter, I waited until the absolute last minute to pack my sandals away for the season.  I was so stubborn about it that I remember a time during early winter, when I got on an elevator with a woman who looked down at my open-toed shoes and said: “I hope you like pneumonia because you’re gonna get it.”  That was a bit harsh since she didn’t know me, and if it was possible to “get” pneumonia by wearing sandals, she wouldn’t be the one taking me to the hospital.

You get my point about sandals.

But when my life started to revolve around chocolate, I’d become conflicted as spring and summer approached.  The sandals would come back out, but I had to be even more vigilant about working with chocolate because the changes in temperature and humidity affect the finished product.

Continue reading