Good Food Blog
I should cocoaPosted at 5:16PM, 01 November 2010 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
I had never thought of using cocoa butter in cooking until I came across powdered cocoa butter in a chocolate shop in a tiny village in Scotland.
Chefs have used cocoa butter in this form for a while
Sold in a drum, the powder smells just like white chocolate. It's obtained through cryogenisation (in which liquid cocoa butter is frozen at very low temperature). Apparently chefs have used cocoa butter in this form for a while, for frying food and also instead of butter or oil in recipes. Pastry chefs use it to make mousses, pastry, gateaux, sugarpaste and also for thinning chocolate.
I couldn't wait to try it, although it seemed strange to use a powdered fat! It's great for frying though, as it resists high temperatures (up to 200C), doesn't spatter and isn't absorbed into the food. The best way of frying meat or fish is to coat the food with the powder and put it into a hot pan. During frying the powder forms a protective crust around the food and seals in all the juices, even with vegetables that easily lose their moisture such as mushrooms. You only need to use a little - about half as much as other fats. Food doesn't stick to the pan either - another bonus! I also tried mixing herbs with the powder before coating food, for extra flavour, and that worked well too. My fritters and doughnuts turned out crisper than usual, which is another advantage.
Cocoa butter is also good for
On the plus side, cocoa butter contains several natural antioxidants and has a shelf life of several years. It's dairy-free, so is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The downside is that as it's a niche product at the moment, it's expensive. A 675g drum was £14 in the chocolate shop I mentioned!