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What Is Cacao Paste?
Blog / Chocolate / What Is Cacao Paste?

What Is Cacao Paste?

Welcome, chocolate lovers and culinary enthusiasts, to our deep dive into the captivating world of cacao paste.

In this post, we're excited to shine the spotlight on cacao paste - a versatile and flavour-packed ingredient that's ready to take your homemade chocolate creations to the next level.

What Is Cacao Paste?

Cacao paste, also known as cocoa liquor or cocoa mass, is a pure, whole form of chocolate in its most natural state.

This integral component in chocolate production is derived directly from cacao beans, the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree.

The process of making cacao paste begins with harvesting and fermenting the cacao beans.

Once fermented, the beans are thoroughly dried, then roasted to bring out their complex flavours.

The roasted beans are then cracked and de-shelled, resulting in cacao nibs - the heart of the cacao bean, full of rich, chocolatey flavour.

These cacao nibs are ground into a thick, oily paste - this is pure cacao paste, or cocoa liquor.

This natural paste is unadulterated, with no additives or sweeteners, giving it a strong, bitter chocolate flavour.

So, if you've ever wondered what gives your favourite chocolate its signature taste, you now know - it all begins with cacao paste!

Related Post: What is the Chocolate Refining Process?

What Is Cacao Paste Used For?

Cacao paste plays a crucial role in the world of chocolate and confectionery due to its versatility and rich, deep flavour profile.

It is used widely across both commercial chocolate production and in artisanal or homemade treats.

Here are some of its common uses:

  1. Chocolate Making: Cacao paste is the backbone of any chocolate bar. It's combined with varying quantities of cocoa butter and sugar to make different types of chocolate, such as dark, milk, or white chocolate. The amount of cacao paste used will significantly impact the final flavour and intensity of the chocolate.

  2. Baking and Desserts: From brownies to mousses, cacao paste brings an authentic chocolate flavour to a range of baked goods and desserts. It is often used by professional chefs and patissiers for its depth of flavour and high-quality finish.

  3. Ganaches and Truffle Fillings: Cacao paste is frequently used in making rich ganaches and luxurious fillings for chocolate truffles. It provides a full-bodied, intensely chocolatey flavour that sets these confections apart.

  4. Hot Chocolate and Beverages: Cacao paste can be melted into milk or a dairy alternative to create a decadent hot chocolate or used in other beverages where a rich chocolate taste is desired.

  5. Health Foods and Snacks: As it's less processed than other forms of chocolate, cacao paste is often used in health foods, including energy bars and health-conscious desserts. It's also popular in vegan and raw food recipes.

  6. Chocolate Decorations: Melted cacao paste can be tempered and used to make chocolate decorations for cakes and pastries, such as chocolate curls or intricate shapes.

Remember, cacao paste is unsweetened and has an intense, slightly bitter chocolate flavour.

Therefore, it's often combined with sweeteners or other ingredients to balance the taste in finished products.

Related Post: What Is Raw Cacao Powder?

What Is The Difference Between Cacao Butter and Paste?

Cacao butter and cacao paste are both fundamental components in the world of chocolate production, but they have distinct roles and characteristics.

Cacao Paste: As mentioned earlier, cacao paste (also known as cocoa liquor or cocoa mass) is derived from cacao beans.

It's the product of grinding cacao nibs — the inner part of the cacao bean — into a thick, oily paste.

Cacao paste is unsweetened and has a rich, intense chocolate flavour. It forms the base of chocolate, lending it its characteristic depth and complexity.

Cacao Butter: Cacao butter, on the other hand, is the edible fat extracted from cacao beans.

The extraction process separates the butter from the cacao paste.

It is white to pale yellow in colour, with a mild chocolatey aroma. Cacao butter contributes to the creamy, smooth texture of chocolate, helping it melt beautifully in the mouth.

It is also used in a variety of other applications, from cosmetics to culinary uses, due to its smooth texture, moisturising properties, and stability.

So, while cacao paste provides the main chocolate flavour in chocolate production, cacao butter gives the chocolate its smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

The two are often used in combination, along with other ingredients like sugar, to create the different varieties of chocolate we enjoy today.

How To Make Cacao Paste Step-by-Step

If you're intrigued by the thought of creating your own homemade cacao paste, you're in for a treat.

It's a process that requires some time and patience, but the result is a rich, chocolaty paste that you can use in a variety of recipes.

Here's a simple step-by-step guide to help you make your own cacao paste at home.

What You'll Need:

  1. Raw cacao beans.
  2. Oven or dehydrator.
  3. Coffee grinder or food processor.
  4. Double boiler.


  1. Roast the cacao beans: Start by roasting the cacao beans. You can do this in an oven set at a low temperature (about 120°C) for about 20-30 minutes. Make sure to spread them out on a baking tray so they roast evenly. You'll know they're done when they become aromatic. If you prefer a raw version, you can skip the roasting and use a dehydrator instead to remove moisture.

  2. Cool and peel the beans: After the beans have been roasted, let them cool down completely. Once they're cool, you'll need to peel off the outer shell. You can do this by cracking them gently with your hands.

  3. Grind the beans: Next, you'll need to grind the beans into a powder. You can use a coffee grinder or food processor for this. The end result should be a fine, dark powder.

  4. Heat and grind again: Take the ground cacao and place it in a double boiler on low heat. The heat will cause the cacao to start releasing its oils and turn into a paste. Stir continuously to ensure the heat is evenly distributed. Once it becomes a liquid, you can then grind it once more in a food processor to make sure all the lumps are removed and you're left with a smooth paste.

  5. Cool the cacao paste: Finally, allow the cacao paste to cool down. Once it's cool, it will solidify and you can store it in an airtight container.

And there you have it!

Your homemade cacao paste is ready to be used in your favourite recipes, from cakes and desserts to hot chocolate and more.

The process may seem a bit intricate, but the satisfaction of making your own cacao paste from scratch is certainly worth it.

Does Cacao Paste Contain Dairy?

Cacao paste in its pure, natural form does not contain dairy. It's made simply by grinding cacao beans into a smooth, liquid paste.

Cacao is a plant-based food that is dairy-free, making it a popular choice among those following a vegan or lactose-free diet.

However, it's important to note that not all products labelled as 'cacao paste' are created equal.

Some manufacturers may add additional ingredients to their cacao paste, including milk or other dairy products.

Therefore, if you're lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply wish to avoid dairy, it's always a good idea to check the product's ingredient list to ensure it does not contain any unwanted additions.

So, while pure cacao paste does not contain dairy, it's wise to always double-check the packaging when purchasing commercially made products.

Is Cacao Paste Vegan?

Pure cacao paste is absolutely vegan. It is made from cacao beans, which come from the cacao tree, making it a plant-based product.

In its most natural form, cacao paste involves no animal products or by-products in its production process.

However, it is important to note that while pure cacao paste is vegan, some manufacturers may add non-vegan ingredients to their cacao products, such as milk or other dairy derivatives, which are not suitable for a vegan diet.

Therefore, if you're following a vegan lifestyle, it's essential to always check the label when purchasing cacao paste to ensure that it hasn't been mixed with any non-vegan ingredients.

Look for products that are labelled as vegan, or that list only 'cacao' or '100% cacao' in their ingredients.

So, while cacao paste in its purest form is indeed vegan, always check labels to ensure the product you're purchasing aligns with your dietary needs.

Where Can You Buy Premium Quality Chocolate?

If you're in the market for high-quality chocolate, look no further than us here at Whitakers Chocolates.

With over 135 years of experience in the art of chocolate making, we've spent generations perfecting our recipes and techniques, earning us a reputation for crafting exceptional chocolates.

At Whitakers, we're firm believers in quality, which is why we insist on using only the finest and most natural ingredients in our chocolates.

You won't find anything nasty or artificial here – our chocolates are 100% natural, free from any unwanted additives.

We believe that the best chocolates come from the best ingredients, which is why we take such care in selecting ours.

Over the years, we've grown our range significantly, always with an eye towards ensuring there's something for everyone.

We understand that dietary needs and preferences vary, which is why we've worked hard to develop a range that includes options for those living a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free lifestyle.

At Whitakers, we're firm believers that everyone should have access to great chocolates, regardless of their dietary requirements.

Whether you're after our classic dark, milk, or white chocolates, our famous chocolate wafer thins, or any of the other tempting treats in our range, you can be confident that you're getting a product that's been crafted with care and attention to detail.

We invite you to discover the difference that over a century of experience makes – try Whitakers Chocolates today.

Here’s a few treats that might tempt you!

Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

As a chocolatier with Whitakers, I have had the wonderful opportunity to delve deep into the world of cacao, and cacao paste is one of those incredible elements that never ceases to amaze.

Its rich, potent flavour and versatility make it a beloved ingredient in our chocolate-making process.

Cacao paste, often also called cocoa liquor, is the purest form of chocolate you can get.

It is a critical ingredient in chocolate production, and using a high-quality cacao paste can make a significant difference to the final product.

The paste lends depth, complexity and richness to our chocolates that you can't get from any other ingredient.

Remember, when using cacao paste, the quality of the paste directly influences the quality of the chocolate.

It's worth sourcing the best you can get, ideally fair-trade and organic.

This way, you're not only guaranteeing the best flavour for your chocolate but also supporting sustainable farming practices.

Another crucial aspect of using cacao paste is tempering.

Tempering chocolate made with cacao paste will help ensure a shiny finish and a good 'snap' when you break the chocolate.

Finally, for those following specific diets, cacao paste is a wonderful ingredient.

It's naturally vegan and gluten-free, making it a perfect choice for a variety of dietary needs.

But always remember to check the labels if you are buying pre-made cacao paste, just to be sure no additional non-vegan or gluten ingredients have been added.

So, as a chocolatier, I see cacao paste as a vital tool in our chocolate-making toolbox, offering depth of flavour, versatility, and a wealth of possibilities.

Final Notes On Cacao Paste

Cacao paste, derived straight from the cacao bean, is a fundamental building block in the world of chocolate-making.

Its versatility and robust, complex flavours allow it to play a starring role in various culinary applications, from crafting artisan chocolates to creating luxurious desserts.

This integral element of chocolate-making contributes to the unique taste and texture that chocolate lovers crave and appreciate.

Despite its benefits, it's essential to source high-quality cacao paste from ethical, sustainable sources.

The quality of the cacao paste directly correlates to the quality of the final product.

Remember to be mindful of dietary restrictions, even though pure cacao paste is inherently vegan and dairy-free, not all commercially available products maintain this purity.