Cocoa butter

Not to be confused with coco butter.
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Cocoa butter

Raw cocoa butter
Fat composition
Saturated fats
Total saturated 57–64%:
stearic acid (24–37%), palmitic acid (24–30%), myristic acid, (0–4%), arachidic acid (1%), lauric acid (0–1%)
Unsaturated fats
Total unsaturated 36–43%
Monounsaturated 29–43%:
oleic acid (29–38%), palmitoleic acid (0–2%)
Polyunsaturated 0–5%:
linoleic acid (0–4%),
α-Linolenic acid (0–1%)
Food energy per 100 g (3.5 oz) 3,699 kilojoules (884 kcal)[1]
Melting point 34.1 °C (93.4 °F), 35–36.5 °C (95.0–97.7 °F)
Solidity at 20 °C (68 °F) solid
Refractive index 1.44556–1.44573
Iodine value 32.11–35.12, 35.575
Acid value 1.68
Saponification value 191.214, 192.88–196.29

Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a pale-yellow, edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It is used to make chocolate, as well as some ointments, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals.[2] Cocoa butter has a cocoa flavor and aroma.[3] Its best-known attribute is its melting point, which is just below human body temperature.

Extraction and composition

The main constituent of cocoa butter is the triglyceride (fat) derived from palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.

Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cocoa beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of the residue is cocoa butter. Chocolate liquor is pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids.[4] The Broma process is used to extract cocoa butter from ground cacao beans. Cocoa butter is sometimes deodorized to remove strong or undesirable tastes.[5]

Cocoa butter contains a high proportion of saturated fats, derived from stearic and palmitic acids.[6][7][8] Cocoa butter, unlike cocoa solids, has no more than trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine.[9]

Typical Fatty acid composition (%):[10]

Fatty acid Percentage
Arachidic acid (C20:0) 1.0%
Linoleic acid (C18:2) 3.2%
Oleic acid (C18:1) 34.5%
Palmitic acid (C16:0) 26.0%
Palmitoleic acid (C16:1) 0.3%
Stearic acid (C18:0) 34.5%
Other Fatty Acids 0.5%


Some food manufacturers substitute less expensive materials such as vegetable oils and fats in place of cocoa butter. Several analytical methods exist for testing for diluted cocoa butter. Adulterated cocoa butter is indicated by its lighter color and its diminished fluorescence upon ultraviolet illumination. Unlike cocoa butter, adulterated fat tends to smear and have a higher non-saponifiable content.[11]


Cocoa butter is becoming increasingly expensive. Substitutes have been designed to use as alternatives. In the United States, 100% cocoa butter must be used for the product to be called chocolate. The EU requires that alternative fats not exceed 5% of the total fat content.[10]

Fats used for this purpose include: Cocoa Butter Substitute – coconut oil or palm oil; Cocoa butter Replacer – soybean oil, rapeseed oil and cottonseed oil; Cocoa Butter Equivalent – shea butter, illipe, sal nut, palm, mango kernel fat,[12][13] palm oils,[10] and PGPR.


Cocoa butter is a major ingredient in practically all types of chocolates (white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate). This application continues to dominate consumption of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter can be found on sale as an ingredient in most supermarkets, and the process of preparing small amounts of chocolate from cocoa butter and cocoa powder means that the practice of making chocolate at home has become relatively popular.

Pharmaceutical companies heavily use cocoa butter's physical properties. As a nontoxic solid at room temperature that melts at body temperature, it is considered an ideal base for medicinal suppositories.[14]

Personal care

Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known, a quality that, coupled with natural antioxidants, prevents rancidity, giving it a storage life of two to five years. The velvety texture, pleasant fragrance and emollient properties of cocoa butter have made it a popular ingredient in products for the skin, such as soaps and lotions.

The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped or burned skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin.[14] Cocoa butter's moisturizing properties are also said to be effective for treating mouth sores.[15] However, the largest clinical study regarding the effects of cocoa butter on stretch marks in pregnant women found that results were no different from a placebo.[16]

Physical properties

Fermenting cocoa beans on a farm east of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.

The most common form of cocoa butter has a melting point of around 34–38 °C (93–101 °F), rendering solid chocolate at room temperature that readily melts once inside the mouth. Cocoa butter displays polymorphism, having α, γ, β', and β crystals, with melting points of 17, 23, 26, and 35–37 °C respectively. The production of chocolate typically uses only the β crystal for its high melting point. A uniform crystal structure will result in smooth texture, sheen, and snap. Overheating cocoa butter converts the structure to a less stable form that melts below room temperature. Given time, it will naturally return to the most stable β crystal form. The polymorphic transformation hypothesis attempts to explain chocolate bloom in terms of the differing crystal forms. Since bloomed chocolates are always found to contain the most stable polymorph of cocoa butter, this hypothesis holds that bloom occurs through the uncontrolled polymorphic transformation of cocoa butter from a less stable form to the most stable form.

See also


  1. "Cocoa butter amounts converter". Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  2. "Cocoa butter". Encyclopaedia Britannica. July 1998. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  3. Andrue, Jone. "Theorbtoma oil known as Cocoa butter". Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  4. Cocoa butter pressing.
  5. The Nibble. "The World's Best White Chocolate Page 3: Percent Cacao & Cocoa Butter". Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  6. "Composition of the Cocoa Bean". Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  7. Liendo, Rigel; Fanny C. Padilla; Agricia Quintana (November 1997). "Characterization of cocoa butter extracted from Criollo cultivars of Theobroma cacao L.". Food Research International. 30 (9): 727–731. doi:10.1016/S0963-9969(98)00025-8. PMID 11048595
  8. El-Saied, Hani M.; M. K. Morsi; M. M. A. Amer (June 1981). "Composition of cocoa shell fat as related to cocoa butter". Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft. 20 (2): 145–151. doi:10.1007/BF02021260. PMID 7269661
  9. "USDA nutrient database". 5 October 2016. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 Frank, Jill (24 October 2014) "Cocoa Butter Alternatives in Chocolate", Prospector, Underwriters Laboratories
  11. Thomas, Alfred (2002). "Fats and Fatty Oils". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a10_173. ISBN 3-527-30673-0.
  12. Sonwai, Sopark; Kaphueakngam, Phimnipha; Flood, Adrian (2012). "Blending of mango kernel fat and palm oil mid-fraction to obtain cocoa butter equivalent". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 51 (10): 2357. doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0808-7. PMID 25328175.
  13. Van Pee, Walter M.; Boni, Luc E.; Foma, Mazibo N.; Hendrikx, Achiel (1981). "Fatty acid composition and characteristics of the kernel fat of different mango (Mangifera indica) varieties". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 32 (5): 485. doi:10.1002/jsfa.2740320510.
  14. 1 2 Chew, Norma (24 November 2011). "What Are The Benefits Of Cocoa Butter?". Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  15. Downey, Lillian (23 March 2010). "Uses For Cocoa Butter". LiveStrong. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  16. O'Connor, Anahad (15 September 2009). "The Claim: Cocoa Butter Can Remove Stretch Marks". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
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