How is it made?
Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cocoa beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then pressed to separate the butter from the hull and other solids.
What is it used for?
This rich and aromatic butter is obtained from the same beans that are used to produce chocolate. It is a firm butter that softens and melts at body temperature and readily absorbs into the skin. It is moderate in its moisturizing capabilities, but cocoa butter has an amazing ability as an occlusive (protective) barrier on the skin and is one of the few natural ingredients recognized by the FDA to do so. Cocoa butter also helps stabilize emulsions (i.e. oil/water mixtures) and has a slight thickening effect on products. Avoid overheating cocoa butter if you want to preserve its wonderfully aromatic chocolate aroma.
Cacao refers to the tree and bean. Cocoa refers to the products made from it. This spelling difference is attributed to an early misspelling by some of the first importers in the 18th century.
This butter should be stored in a cool dark place and has a shelf-life of 2 years when stored properly.
Rare allergies to cocoa butter do exist. Cocoa butter contains only trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine (another stimulant).