Raw cocoa: Properties and Facts
Cocoa beans have an intense bitter taste and must ferment to develop the cocoa flavour we all know. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. The shell is removed and the nibs are ground into cocoa mass. In recent years, however, some manufacturers have chosen to make chocolate from raw cocoa.
Raw chocolate: what it is and how it's made
Raw chocolate differs from classic chocolate in that the cocoa is not roasted during cocoa processing, after fermentation and drying, so the cocoa beans are heated to a maximum temperature of 42°C.
This step has two main effects: on the one hand, it affects the flavour, which is generally fully developed during the roasting phase. The resulting cocoa flavour will be more natural, delicate but also more bitter and moist than that of normal chocolate. The reason for this is that, just like with coffee, the most important stage in the development of cocoa bean flavours is roasting. The second consequence is that, by not being subjected to high temperatures, the cocoa retains all its characteristic natural properties.
Benefits and contraindications of raw cocoa
Like classic cocoa, raw cocoa also has many beneficial properties. Because it is not processed at high temperatures, some claim that raw cocoa retains all the beneficial properties of the substances it contains: vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium and other minerals. Furthermore, raw cocoa contains high quantities of caffeine and theobromine, which are mood-enhancing stimulants.
Some research suggests that roasting may make the substances contained in cocoa more easily absorbed. A study by Pennsylvania State University revealed that altering the temperature and time of cocoa bean roasting can preserve and increase the potency of their benefits.
As we know, everything should be done in moderation: raw cocoa also has contraindications. Some studies suggest that theobromine affects the blood pressure, so eating too much raw cocoa could be dangerous. For example, theobromine poisoning can cause heart failure, kidney damage and dehydration.
Furthermore, as the cocoa is not heated to very high temperatures, there is a risk that a higher bacterial load will develop, so it is essential that the cocoa also goes through a vapour insufflation phase.
Raw chocolate is also easy to make at home and requires only a few ingredients: cocoa butter, raw cocoa with no added sugar, vanilla extract and a sweetener such as honey or coconut oil. First melt the cocoa butter in a bain-marie, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder and coconut oil or honey until the mixture has thickened. Then pour the chocolate onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper or a silicone mat and add dried fruit or nuts for a touch of crunch and flavour. Lastly, place it in the fridge or freezer until it has hardened completely.