We're going to tell you everything you need to know about cacao. What does it taste like? Is it the same thing as dark chocolate? Keep reading to find out.
Let's dive right into it...
What Does Cacao Taste Like?
Cacao can be considered a step in the process toward the chocolate bars we're familiar with. It's the fermented seed of the South American cacao tree, generally in its raw form.
The flavor of these cacao beans (or "nibs") is like dark chocolate, but the bitterest kind. It's earthy and nutty and not sweet like processed chocolate. It can almost have a roasted coffee bean flavor, even unroasted.
Cacao nibs are quite crunchy. They're firm but not terribly hard—it's not like biting into a coffee bean. Rather, they combine smooth and crunchy textures.
Cacao powder is like cocoa powder in that it's dry and fine, but not quite as dry as all-purpose flower. It's smooth and silky and usable in the same way as heat-treated cocoa powder.
Is Dark Chocolate the Same as Cacao?
Usually, when we're talking about dark chocolate, we're talking about processed chocolate, as in the stuff you buy at the store and eat straight from the wrapper.
Cacao is an ingredient, not a prepared chocolate treat. That isn't to say that you can't eat raw cacao nibs, because you certainly can and many people do.
Do Raw Cacao Nibs Taste Good?
Raw cacao nibs started to gain serious attention some years back and are now a staple in many diets, whether vegan or omnivorous. Some people like the pure taste of a handful of nibs while others prefer to sweeten them up.
They're often treated like dark chocolate, but they're touted as a superfood. Whether you eat them plain or mixed into recipes, their flavor is generally considered agreeable.
What Do You Eat with Cacao Nibs?
If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll frequently see cacao nibs added to granola bowls, energy bars and raw desserts. They can also be tossed into smoothies and vegan hot cocoas.
You can imagine them as chocolate chips, but unsweetened. So anywhere you'd think of sprinkling in some chocolate chips, including trail mix and cookies, you can substitute cacao nibs.
Cacao Recipe Tips
Whether you're a natural baker or not, you can make vegan chocolate out of cacao. Trust us, it's easier than you might think.
This video shows you how to make raw vegan chocolate by gently heating raw cacao butter and adding cacao powder and agave syrup. If you aren't shooting for a raw chocolate, you don't need to monitor the temperature. Just eyeball it and don't let it burn.
Looking for raw dessert recipes? Check out our list of the best raw food cookbooks for vegans.
Here's one of the ways you can get some chocolate into your breakfast (with cacao nibs). Grab these ingredients for this recipe:
- Quick oats
- Seeds of your choice
- Shredded coconut
- Cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
- Coconut sugar (or any sugar you have on hand)
- Coconut oil
- Liquid sweetener
- Cacao nibs
Truffles are some of the most popular treats made with cacao, and as it happens, they're incredibly easy to make. This video will show you how to make three different kinds with the following ingredients:
- Cacao powder
- Acai powder
- Shredded coconut
- Vegan tempered chocolate
Cacao generally refers to "chocolate" in its raw form, the cacao bean. It's like deep, dark chocolate with a strong bitterness similar to coffee. Add a handful of cacao nibs to your cereal or swap out your cocoa powder for raw cacao powder. And of course, don't forget all those fabulous raw vegan desserts.