What to Use Cocoa Beans For, and Why?

What to Use Cocoa Beans For, and Why?

Published by Santa Barbara Chocolate on 3rd Sep 2022

Cocoa beans straight from the rainforest are raw, tasty, and thriving with nutrients. Imagine what the famous heirloom cacao tastes like, as pure as it gets, and you'll have that experience when you add cocoa beans to your diet.

Wild grown and harvested Criollo cacao varieties are the ones the Mesoamericans cherished. Beans from such a cocoa tree have seeds irregular in size, shape, and color. Growing in a special microclimate within the rainforest, the heirloom cocoa trees have extra-fine quality fruit filled with top-quality cocoa seeds. These special cacao trees grow amongst vanilla orchids and banana trees.

Let us tell you more about cacao with its amazing benefits and what it can do for you!

What Forms of Cacao Are There to Buy?

Cacao can be purchased in various forms, including:

  • Cacao nibs (also referred to as cocoa nibs). They are produced by drying cacao beans after picking them from a cacao tree (called Theobroma cacao) and crumbling to little bits.
  • Dry cocoa solids. These products are the ingredients of cocoa beans that remain after separating the fatty component - the cocoa butter.
  • Cocoa powder (also known as cacao powder). Cocoa production can also include leaving some amount of cocoa butter in the dry solids and turning them into cacao powder (or cocoa powder).
  • Cocoa butter (or cacao butter). It is a pale-yellow edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It can also be called theobroma oil.
  • Cacao pods (or cocoa pods). Interestingly, you can even buy cocoa pods which are the fruit where cocoa seeds can be taken out from. Such seed pods are relatively large.
  • Cocoa beans (or cacao beans). When cocoa solids are dried and fully fermented, they are referred to as cacao beans or cocoa beans.

One of the most popular cocoa products to buy is the cacao bean form, and that is what we would like to focus on here.

What Can I Make with Cocoa Beans?

Cocoa beans create a lot of opportunities, as they allow you to get the real taste of chocolate. Here you can find two examples of recipes with raw cacao worth your attention!

Hot Chocolate

Grind 2 tablespoons of your favorite roasted cocoa bean in a coffee grinder for about 45 seconds. When you see an oil brown muddy sludge at the bottom and edge of the grinder, it means that the cocoa butter has been released, and the work is done.

Move the ground beans to an espresso frothing pot or a similar container. Pour about 1 cup (8 ounces) of boiling water into the pot and stir it. Keep brewing for about 4 minutes - if you want the chocolate taste to be more intense, you can give it some more time.

Take a mug of at least 12 ounces and pour the brewed cacao through a fine strainer. If you don't want the chocolate drink to be too bitter, you can add a sweetener. One of the most recommended ones could be pure vanilla extract.

Heat 1/2 cup of milk to 140-160 degrees (you can use an espresso machine frother if you have one) and pour it into the mug. You can top it with some froth.

Stir if necessary, especially if you have used soy milk. And that's it!

Chocolate Bar

Yes, with cocoa beans, you can make chocolate bars on your own! Take 2 pounds of cacao and roast it, then cool it back to room temperature. Then, crack and winnow the beans to get the cacao nibs.

Winnowing is the process of separating the husks from the cacao nibs with airflow - the simplest way to do it is to use a hairdryer. You can use the leftover husks to make cocoa tea or add it to the soil of your garden plans for nutrition.

Grind the cocoa (you can also pre-grind the nibs in a blender first). However, keep in mind to heat the stones in the grinder with a hairdryer and add a small amount of cacao butter before you put in the nibs.

When they're in, turn on the machine and observe the nibs turning into liquid chocolate. Then you can add the rest of the cocoa butter and, gradually, milk powder and sugar if you are making milk chocolate. True vegan dark chocolate should go without the milk powder and with a limited amount of sugar (or without it at all).

Pour the chocolate out of the machine into a glass bowl, and place it in a pan on the hob of a stove. Put a small amount of hot water in the pan to slowly heat up the chocolate.

After reading a temperature of 116F/47C, place the bowl in an ice bath to rapidly cool it down to 81F/29C. After that, you need to warm it up a little again with a hairdryer to allow tempering.

Keep in mind that those temperatures are suitable if you are for a milk version - dark chocolate and white chocolate temper at different temperatures.

Heat the chocolate molds a bit with a hairdryer and pour the chocolate inside - use a spatula to fill every gap. Put the molds in the fridge and wait for 20-30 minutes.

Apart from those recipes, there are many other things you can create with cocoa beans, either taken out from a cocoa pod by yourself or already packed. You can prepare, for example, chocolate liquor, cookies, chocolate milk, cocoa paste, and much more. The sky's the limit!

Nutrition Facts on Cocoa Beans

It is worth using raw cacao for your confectionery because then, you can promote it as good for your clients' health! One ounce (28 grams) can provide:

Calories: 175

Fat: 15 grams

Fiber: 5 grams

Protein: 3 grams

Sugar: 1 gram

Iron: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)

Phosphorus: 9% of the RDI

Copper: 25% of the RDI

Magnesium: 16% of the RDI

Manganese: 27% of the RDI

Zinc: 6% of the RDI

And here are some  nutrition properties cacao beans may have (as well as cocoa powder and other forms):

  • It can improve your immune system
  • It may be good for your heart
  • It may benefit blood sugar control
  • It can help you ease inflammation

Fair Trade Cocoa Beans Straight From a Cacao Tree

We offer high-quality cocoa beans from trusted sources. The cocoa farmers are properly respected there, and they take care of every single detail to provide a high-quality product.

At Santa Barbara Chocolate, you can buy beans that have been taken out from a cacao pod growing in the rainforest in a hilly terrain that creates its own micro-climate. Use them in your baking and candy-making to improve the nutrition and taste of your products.

We want to provide what you exactly need, so if the bean form is not the most convenient for you, feel free to go for chocolate chips,  chocolate couverturecocoa powder, or other items in our online store.