Swap Cooking Oil With Cocoa Butter For A High-Heat Saute

chunks of cocoa butter stacked
chunks of cocoa butter stacked - New Africa/Shutterstock

Fat is an essential ingredient not just as a macronutrient, but also as a flavor and texture enhancer for dry cooking methods like sauteing, stir-frying, or roasting. While there are countless cooking oils to drizzle over the saute pan, cocoa butter is the secret ingredient you need to withstand high-heat sautees, roasts, or broils.

One of the cocoa bean's many gifts, cocoa butter is a solid, off-white fat that's commonly found in lotions, soaps, and moisturizers. Its utility in cooking may be less prevalent, but cocoa butter's high smoke point and nutritional benefits make it the perfect swap for oil or dairy fat. A high-smoke point means that you can saute or otherwise cook a dish over high heat without burning the fat, which would not only result in a foul flavor but also release harmful compounds into your food.

Cocoa butter's smoke point is 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than canola oil, butter, and olive oil (and olive oil's low smoke point is why you should think twice before frying with it). Cocoa butter is also an unrefined fat, which means it retains a wealth of nutrients as well as its natural flavors and aromas. As a cacao derivative, cocoa butter has a strong chocolate aroma, but its rich, subtly sweet-tasting notes lend depth to savory recipes as much as sweet ones. Plus, its thick, buttery consistency means that you can use far less of it to saute, sear, or stir-fry food compared to most other cooking fats.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Best Recipes For Cocoa Butter

steak and asparagus in skillet
steak and asparagus in skillet - Boontoom Sae-Kor/Shutterstock

Cocoa butter isn't as ubiquitous as most cooking oils, but you can easily find it online or at specialty stores; just ensure that the label says "food grade" and that there are no other additives. You'll need to melt cocoa butter to use it as a cooking fat, which you can easily execute with the help of a microwave. Simply break off a few chunks of cocoa butter, throw them in a microwave-safe bowl, and nuke them in 45-second-to-one-minute increments. Then, you can add the resulting translucent oil to a saute pan or cast iron skillet over high heat to receive the saute, sear, or stir-fry ingredients.

Perhaps the most famous application for food-grade cocoa butter is in tempering chocolate — most chocolate bars consist of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. Cocoa butter's silky and rich consistency and flavor coupled with its chocolatey aroma make it a popular ingredient swap for butter in baked goods like cookies, pies, and tarts. However, you can also use it as a butter substitute to enrich and complement the savory umami flavors of seared steak, cabbage steaks, or portobello mushrooms.

Its richness also lends depth to browning or scorching aromatics or chiles. As a Mexican native crop, cocoa is used in many savory Mexican dishes. You can thus use cocoa butter as the foundation for a chocolate-infused mole sauce or brush it over skirt steak before grilling for richer, juicier fajitas.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.