Ask the Chef: Cacao Power

by Julie Morris, Navitas Naturals Executive Chef
August 12, 2013

Cacao Power

Q: What’s the best form of cacao to use in smoothies?

A: It’s exciting to experience how quickly cacao can elevate a “normal” smoothie into a dessert-like treat. As the raw source of all chocolate, cacao goes tremendously well with creamy smoothies made from blended nuts, superfood seeds like hemp, as well as many varieties of fruits, from berries and bananas, to pears and oranges.

At Navitas, we carry several forms of cacao, useful for many types of culinary applications. Some are certainly more preferable than others in a smoothie, so here’s a quick rundown on the blend-friendliest, from best to last:

    Cacao Powder: Not just one of our most popular products, cacao powder is also the best form of cacao to use in smoothies. It’s finely milled texture combined with its heightened nutrient density (thanks to having all of its fat removed) makes it absolutely ideal for smoothie applications of all kinds.

    Cacao Nibs: A close second, cacao nibs are simply ground up cacao beans. When blended into a smoothie, they add cacao’s signature antioxidants and minerals…. Along with a little crunch. Cacao nibs are a wonderful way to mimic chocolate chips in dessert-like blends.

    Cacao Sweet Nibs: Rolled in cacao paste and cane juice, sweet cacao nibs have, as their name suggests, a sweeter flavor, reminiscent to a chocolate covered espresso bean. They can be used in smoothies to provide a chocolate bar-like flavor.

    Cacao Beans: These “beans” are cacao in its original seed state, before they crushed into nibs (or ground into powder). Cacao beans may be added to smoothies, but it is recommended to remove their paper-like skins prior to blending which, though edible, can sometimes create an undesirable texture in smoothies.

    Cacao Paste: When cacao beans are ground and melted, they form a paste-like substance, similar to unsweetened bakers chocolate. You can certainly use this form in smoothies – simply shave the cacao paste “brick” with a knife or grater into small pieces and blend like normal. A little goes a long way in terms of flavor.

    Cacao Butter: Containing no dairy, cacao butter is the pure, extracted fat from the cacao bean. Though it has a wonderful place in the world of velvety confections, rich desserts, and soothing body care, cacao butter has little use in the realm of smoothies as it provides little flavor or health benefits.

Ready to Blend? Double up on cacao power in our amazing Chocolate Dream Smoothie, which uses cacao powder and cacao nibs.

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