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Dairy-free cocoa is any type of cocoa that does not contain any milk or milk-products. All types of cocoa come from the cocoa plant, which is a tree that produces oblong fruits filled with cocoa beans. The process of transforming cocoa beans into cocoa butter or powder does not require the addition of any milk or butter, and pure cocoa does not usually contain any dairy products. If it is processed in a facility that also processes milk products, such as a chocolate factory that makes milk chocolate, the cocoa may not be considered to be dairy-free because it may have been contaminated with a milk-based product.
There are a few different types of dairy-free cocoa. Cocoa may refer to the natural fruit, or beans, of the cocoa tree, which can be eaten raw but rarely are outside of the tropical nations where they are grown. In most cases, the beans are taken out of the fruit, fermented, dried, and then shipped to processing facilities where they are roasted and then processed into cocoa products. Dairy-free chocolate liquor, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter are made out of these roasted beans as is chocolate, though this chocolate often does contain dairy products.
After cocoa beans are roasted, they are usually ground and melted into a product known as chocolate liquor. Not to be confused with chocolate liqueur, which is a sweet alcoholic drink, chocolate liquor is simply cocoa beans in liquid form. This product is a type of dairy-free cocoa and is used to make the other main types of dairy-free cocoa: cocoa butter, and cocoa solids. Melted chocolate liquor can also be cooled until it solidifies into a dairy-free cocoa product known as baking chocolate. Made from pure cocoa, baking chocolate is bitter and does not taste like the chocolate in chocolate bars that most people are familiar with.
Chocolate liquor must be pressed to separate the fat, known as cocoa butter, from the solids that are usually ground into cocoa powder. Neither the butter nor the solids contain dairy products because they are made from pure cocoa. Once these components have been separated from the chocolate liquor, they can be mixed with sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla to create chocolate and milk chocolate. Chocolate products are not usually dairy-free though there are some varieties of chocolate that are made without milk products.
As the article mentions, cocoa does not have dairy in it naturally. You can buy a 100 percent cacao bar and do the rest yourself at home. 100 percent cacao means it is comprised only of the cacao seed and nothing more. Then you can add what you want to it at home. The bar itself will be very, very bitter. I like to add some local, raw honey to sweeten it up. Raw means the honey has not been processed and local because you might as well build up immunity to local allergens (pollens) while you are at it!
I love dark chocolate so that is often good enough for me, but if I want a milkier chocolate, I
will also add almond milk or coconut milk to the melted cacao. Almond milk is more subtle but coconut milk will add a definite coconut flavor to your chocolate so that's something to keep in mind when deciding which non-dairy milk to use.
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