A couple months ago, we shared a recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip & Pecan Banana Muffins. Some justification for baking the delicious, sweet dessert was rooted in spotlighting the “powerful phytochemicals” in cacao beans, which are present as well in cocoa beans.
But it is important to understand the distinction between cacao beans and cocoa beans. An article by Jennifer Murray, The Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao, on The Spruce Eats (which has well over 16,000 recipes generated by chefs, teachers, cookbook writers, and home cooks and more than 1,200 instructional videos) provides a concise explanation:
“While cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been roasted, what is called cocoa is made of beans that have been roasted.”
The importance of this distinction between raw and roasted cacao beans hits home when shopping in the bulk food section of my local food co-op, the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, New York, which provides informative nutritional and ingredient labels on the hundreds of bins for bulk food. The label for the bin of Organic Raw Cacao Powder from Bonao Cacao notes:
“This farm direct product is made from Criollo cacao grown and harvested on the Hernandez farm in the Dominican Republic. The Criollo cacao is the rarest of cacaos and prized for its rich long lasting notes. It is, of course, also rich in antioxidants (40 time that in blueberries), iron magnesium and calcium [emphasis added].”
Consequently, despite the very large difference in pricing between Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder at $5.99/lb and the Organic Raw Cacao Powder at $21,49/lb, this co-op shopper opted for the raw cacao powder. Since only a teaspoon or so of the raw powder is used for the morning mug of simple Mocha Coffee without sugar or cream, the astounding richness in antioxidants justifies the expense.
My quick and easy preparation of a mug of Mocha Coffee, using freshly ground, single-origin organic and fair-traded coffee beans to brew up a small pot of coffee, and a half a tablespoon (or 1 and one-half teaspoons) or so of raw cacao powder is a perfect eye-opening start to the day.
To prepare, I pour about a quarter of a cup of the hot coffee on a 1/2 tablespoon or so of raw cacao powder and stir vigorously until dissolved. I then fill up the mug to the brim while stirring. This coffee drinker does not add sugar or cream to his coffee and drinks it black. And my taste buds, trained over the years, do not require “sweetening” for the hot beverage in the morning!
We’ve noted in an earlier post, that coffee consumption has been associated with decreased mortality. Jane E. Brody, the now retired Personal Health columnist of the New York Times in one of her last columns, Wake Up To Good News About Coffee, noted that coffee consumption “has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments.” Adding a teaspoon of raw cacao powder is an added healthy bonus!
Along with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with berries, I can’t think of a better or healthier breakfast to get the day of to a great start.
(Frank W. Barrie, 6/17/22)