Cocoa butter, also known as theobroma oil, is an edible fat extracted from cocoa beans. It is widely used in the production of chocolate, as well as in ointments, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals. The main components of cocoa butter are saturated fats derived from palmitic acid, oleic acid, and stearic acid. It has a melting point slightly below human body temperature and contributes to the flavor and aroma of chocolate products.
To obtain cocoa butter, cocoa beans undergo a process of fermentation, drying, roasting, and separation from their hulls. The resulting cocoa nibs contain approximately 54-58% cocoa butter. The nibs are then ground to form cocoa mass, which is pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the non-fat cocoa solids. Cocoa butter may undergo deodorization to remove undesirable tastes.
The fatty acid composition of cocoa butter includes palmitic acid, oleic acid, and stearic acid, with varying percentages. Adulteration of cocoa butter can occur with less expensive materials, but there are methods available to detect diluted cocoa butter. Substitutes for cocoa butter include coconut, palm, soybean, rapeseed, cottonseed, and illipe oils, as well as shea butter and mango kernel fat.
Cocoa butter is a crucial ingredient in various types of chocolate, such as white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. It is also widely used in the pharmaceutical industry as a base for suppositories due to its nontoxic nature and melting point close to body temperature. In personal care products, cocoa butter is valued for its stable texture, pleasant fragrance, and emollient properties, making it a popular ingredient in soaps and lotions.
Physically, cocoa butter has a melting point of around 34-38 °C (93-100 °F), which gives chocolate its solid form at room temperature and its ability to melt in the mouth. It exhibits polymorphism, meaning it can exist in different crystalline forms with varying melting points. The desired form for chocolate production is form V, which provides a smooth texture, sheen, and snap. Achieving this form requires proper chocolate tempering, as failure to do so can result in the formation of unstable polymorphic forms and undesirable characteristics such as fat bloom or chocolate bloom.
Overall, cocoa butter is a versatile and essential component of chocolate and various consumer products, offering unique properties and contributing to the sensory experience of these goods.