Both cacao and cocoa come from the cacao bean. The difference lies in the process used to make the powders and this results in differences in taste and nutritional content.
Raw Cacao is just that, the bean is crushed in it’s raw form and the butter removed by cold pressing. It’s high in antioxidants and a source of magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Alkalized Cocoa is a dutch method where the beans are soaked in alkalized solution to reduce the Ph level and make it less bitter and then is processed at a higher temperature. The increased processing of the bean does decrease but not destroy all the antioxidants and minerals so it still has nutritional value.
Carob comes from the seed of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) a native to the Mediterranean. The pods are then roasted and crushed into a powder. It has a chocolate like flavour and has been used a substitute for many years. It has a naturally sweeter flavour, caffeine free and higher in fibre than cacao.
I’ve been using raw cacao powder in my baking for a few years now and it certainly takes the humble chocolate cake flavour to a whole new level over your general supermarket cocoa. However in a taste test of the hot chocolates at home recently, our alkalized cocoa powder has a lovely dark chocolate flavour and was less bitter.
If you are looking to add cacao to your diet for purely nutritional reasons then I go for raw cacao but if you are looking for to add a rich chocolate flavour to your next cake or dessert then either will work.
If you want to change things up then you can easily substitute carob powder for cacao powder in recipes and possibly cut down on some sugar to boot, as you don’t need to mask any bitterness.
This week we have a special double recipe post with 2 delicious biscuits recipes. One with raisins by Joanne Flanagan and the other is my choc chip recipe. Both are full of rolled oaty goodness.
Good for the school lunch box or an anytime treat!
Oat Raisin Biscuits
Makes 24 large cookies.
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bi carb soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250g unsalted butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup of raisins ….or dark choc chips or half and half.
This week we have another fantastic recipe from Joanne Flanagan using Spelt Grain.
Spelt is a an ancient grain that is high in fibre, protein and vitamins. It is lower in gluten than traditional wheat but not gluten free. It makes a great rice alternative and can be used in risotto.
Jo has created this hearty winter soup to warm up your insides on these cold nights. This has been paired with her home made flat bread.
Lamb, Veg and Spelt Grain Soup
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large lamb shanks
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup of spelt grain (or pearled barley)
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
Up to 2 cups of water to just cover shanks in your pot or slow cooker
1 cup of chopped kale
Natural yoghurt, to serve (optional)
Serve in soup bowls with a dollop of yoghurt and some warm flat bread.