The cocoa bean, also cacao bean or simply cocoa or cacao, is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. They are the basis of chocolate, as well as many Mesoamerican foods such as mole sauce and tejate.
Cocoa powder may be mixed with hot milk or water. Also may be used in cake, cookie, pudding and ice cream production.
Natural cocoa powder has a light brown color and a pH level of 5.1 to 5.4. The processed (alkalized) cocoa powder is darker in color, ranging from brownish red to nearly black, with a pH from 6.8 to 8.1. The alkalization process reduces bitterness and improves solubility, which is important for beverage product applications. All of these pH values are considered safe for food use.
Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, a type of phenolic acid. The amount of flavonoids depends on the amount of processing and manufacturing the cocoa powder undergoes, but cocoa powder can contain up to 10% its weight in flavonoids. Natural cocoas are high in flavanols, but when the cocoa is processed with alkali, also known as Dutch processing or Dutching, the flavanols are substantially reduced.
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