What the heck is the difference?
Cocoa, Cacao, tomato, tomoto, potato, pototo…. aren’t they the same thing? Well…. they are similar, but also very different. I’ll do my best to explain their differences.
Most of the time when I say cacao people give be a funny look like, “Wow, Kelly says cocoa really strange”. Until recently, I don’t think many people have heard that cacao is a real thing.
Cacao= [kuh–kah-oh, –key-oh]
The cacao bean is the source of both cacao and cocoa powders. Therefore, cacao is the raw form of chocolate. The cacao bean is what any type of chocolate is initially made from. Actual cacao beans are found inside the fruit of the tree in fleshy, oval-shaped pods, they are quite colorful land beautiful! The beans are then harvested, fermented, and dried from the fruit.
When you see cacao nibs or cacao powder in the grocery store- this is the bean in its rat state- uncooked, additive free, and unprocessed, therefore, healthier. Cacao contains an abundance of antioxidants, because it is raw and pure. It is also a fantastic source of fiber, magnesium, essential fatty acids, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, and calcium.
This is your typical Hershey’s Cocoa powder that has been traditionally used to bake with, etc. It isn’t until after the cacao beans are roasted and processed that they are considered cocoa. Most cocoa powders have additives like sweeteners or cocoa butter. Once roasted, turning cacao to cocoa, the beans lose much of their nutritional benefits. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder is actually very similar to cacao powder except for experiencing higher temperatures during production, which decreased antioxidant activity.