Why Cacao Butter Should Be Your Valentine

Chocolate-dipped strawberries are so passé. Cozy up to these cacao-based desserts instead.

What could be more romantic than the cold-pressed oil of a cacao bean — aka cacao butter? Maybe it’s the fact that cacao butter isn’t just an essential ingredient in chocolate, but also a healthy source of Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids, antioxidants and, yes, mood-stimulating serotonin. Use cacao butter to make chocolate, or for melt-in-your-mouth cookie dough truffles and sexy raspberry chocolate leather.

Raspberry Protein Chocolate Leather (pictured at top)

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened raw cocoa powder

1/4 cup grass-fed collagen or protein powder

1/4 cup maple sugar

1/2 cup raw cacao butter, melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Freeze-dried raspberries, for topping

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, collagen and sugar. Whisk in the warm melted cacao butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour onto a parchment paper-lined surface and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly and thinly. Scatter some raspberries over it; refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. To serve, peel to eat.

Per serving: Calories 257; Fat 20 g (Saturated 10 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 6 mg; Carbohydrate 17 g; Fiber 5 g; Sugars 11 g; Protein 5 g

Cookie Dough Truffles

Makes 9

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, toasted

1 tablespoon raw cacao butter, melted

2 tablespoons maple sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate morsels plus 1 cup, melted

Directions:

Using a high-speed blender, process the cashews into meal, scraping down the sides if necessary, about 1 minute. Add the melted cacao butter, sugar, vanilla and salt; blend until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely; stir in the 1/4 cup morsels. Using a 1 1/4-inch scoop, form cookie dough balls, place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Place the melted chocolate in a heatproof bowl and submerge each scoop of cookie dough, turning to coat and shaking off any excess. Return to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let set, at least 1 hour. Repeat with the remaining frozen cookie dough scoops, reheating the chocolate as needed.

Per serving: Calories 284; Fat 20 g (Saturated 9 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 67 mg; Carbohydrate 29 g; Fiber 3 g; Sugars 22 g; Protein 6 g

Chocolate-Salted Peanut Crunch Squares

Makes 16

Ingredients:

2/3 cup unsweetened raw cocoa powder

1/4 cup maple sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup raw cacao butter, melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened rice cereal

1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, plus more for topping

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Whisk in the warm melted cacao butter and vanilla until smooth.

Gently stir in the cereal and peanuts; pour onto a parchment paper-lined square mold and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly. Scatter some peanuts over it and let set overnight or refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. To serve, cut into squares.

Per serving: Calories 138; Fat 13 g (Saturated 7 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 104 mg; Carbohydrate 8 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 2 g

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