The increasing cost of cocoa butter and desire for healthy foods has led to many companies looking for alternatives. Cocoa butter gives chocolate its fatty goodness and glossy appearance. However, using cocoa butter alternatives in chocolate, baked goods and candies is becoming a popular choice. Alternatives fall into three categories – cocoa butter substitutes (CBSs), cocoa butter replacers (CBRs) and cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs).
Cocoa Butter Substitutes (CBSs)
A cocoa butter substitute is a fat compound that is partially hydrogenated. This makes it healthier than traditional cocoa butter, and the right type of substitute can offer the same taste and texture to chocolate as the real thing. Palm kernel or coconut oil are frequently used as CBSs in sweet treats. They are easier to handle when used in chocolate treats and have a high melting point. Both substitutes also do not crystallize when overcooked the way cocoa butter does. The downside of these substitutes is that they do not mix well with other fats used to make chocolate. According to Rick Schwartz of Cargil Cocoa and Chocolate, cocoa butter substitutes are only able to mix well with recipes that have 5% or less of other fats.
Cocoa Butter Replacers (CBRs)
Organic oils can be used as cocoa butter replacers in chocolate recipes. Their consistency allows them to mix well with chocolate liqueur, which increases the flavor and richness of chocolate. The most common CBRs are derived from soybean, cottonseed and palm oils. Each of these substances act similar to cocoa butter but are only able to mix with up to 20% of other fats.
Cocoa Butter Equivalents (CBEs)
The most beneficial cocoa butter alternative is a cocoa butter equivalent. CBEs are similar in nutrition and fat content to real cocoa butter once they are tempered. Palm and shea oil are frequently used as a low cost alternative to cocoa butter. Both have no maximum amount of fat that they can be mixed with, which helps them be versatile in chocolate, candies and other sweet treats. The right amount of oil is dependent on the texture and consistency of a recipe. More oil is used to replace cocoa butter in chocolate but less will be needed in candies due to the high cooking temperature. Any type of substitution is a trial and error process to find the right balance that does not diminish the taste and quality of the product.