\r\nEncouraging fair trade and supporting cooperatives is important to us and one of our six core values (more on these later.)\r\nWe source our organic extra virgin coconut oil from Samoa and have recently tracked down a new supplier for our cocoa butter. I want to tell you a little more about the latter.\r\n\r\nWHAT IS IT?\r\nCocoa butter is one of my favourite ingredients, present in many of our products and we use thousands of kgs a year. Cocoa butter (known as cacao butter- they're the same thing) in it's unadulterated form is a pale yellow, hard butter, which begins to melt on skin contact. It's incredibly moisturising, full of essential fatty acids and is well known for it's supposed ability to prevent stretchmarks (unfortunately this isn't quite true, but's that another blog.)\r\nWe buy two varieties of cocoa butter, both organic, but one is deodorised and one is not. The deodorised butter we use in bars we don't want to smell like chocolate (because believe it or not, some people don't like the smell!) Our butter is deodorised with steam treatment, so no chemicals are used to remove the scent other than water. Our non-deodorised butter smells divine- exactly like a block of dark chocolate.\r\nWORKING WITH CONACADO\r\nWe have been looking for producer who would work with us directly for a while, but as we are so small, this has proven tricky. Finally, by working alongside Trade Aid, we have managed to secure creamy, organic cocoa butter directly from farmers in the Dominican Republic. Our first delivery arrived last week and it smells incredible.\r\nThe cooperative is called CONACADO (CONFEDERACION NACIONAL DE CACAOCULTORES DOMINICANOS), set up to provide farmers with a higher income and a better lifestyle than they would be selling individually.\r\nCONACADO was created in 1988 and is now comprised of over 9000 small scale cocoa farmers, often with less than 3 hectares of land.\r\nWhen sold individually, to conventional buyers, farmers in the DR typically receive only 72% of the global price for cocoa. This is insufficient, resulting in families in poverty having to work as labourers on top of farming, just to make ends meet. Farmers were also abandoning their plantations and of course, when people are struggling, the environment suffers.\r\nCONACADO has taught it's members how to ferment cocoa beans, which results in a higher value product, how to farm sustainably and thus protect their environment for generations to come and how to increase productivity. Farmers that join CONACADO receive 90% of the market price of cocoa beans and many have been able to rid themselves of crippling debt, whilst building family homes.\r\n\r\nWHAT DO WE USE IT IN?\r\nWe use cocoa butter in almost everything. It's an excellent moisturiser, hardener (important when we make solid products) and it's got a long shelf life as it's high in antioxidants. We put it in every shampoo bar, Wonderbar, our butter blocks, bodywash bars, oh, and a soon to be released body polish... Those of you whom remember Bon Bon, our hair treatment bar, will not be surprised to learn that it was almost 60% cocoa butter (and yes, Bon Bon will be back soon.)\r\nWHAT CAN YOU DO WITH COCOA BUTTER?\r\nLots of raw, vegan recipes use cocoa butter, alongside cashews and coconut oil as a base for 'cheesecakes.'\r\nI've never found these taste as good as they look unfortunately, so my favourite recipe is a bit different.\r\n\r\nEdible Chocolate Body Mousse:\r\nThis is a truly delicious recipe, which is a wonderful moisturiser, a sensational massage oil and of course, it's edible, so clean up is a breeze!\r\nYou will need:\r\n\r\n30g organic, non-deodorised cocoa butter (often sold as cacao butter)\r\n45g grapeseed oil\r\n20g dark chocolate (whittakers or trade aid is my favourite)\r\n5g of runny honey\r\n\r\nTo make:\r\n\r\nMelt the cocoa butter, chocolate and grapeseed oil in a double boiler over a pan of simmering water.\r\nWhen melted, stir in honey.\r\nThe ingredients will separate, but the trick is to whip the butter when cool. Place the bowl in the fridge and stir every 15 minutes. When it's firm but stirable, get whipping!\r\nWhip until the mousse is almost double in volume and much paler in volume.\r\nStore in a clean, unused jar in the fridge. This butter can go off, so make small amounts and keep for a week only.\r\n\r\nIf you are feeling brave, you could add 2-3 drops of an essential oil to add flavour, peppermint or orange would be a delicious addition. Peppermint is cooling, so be warned, it can be tingly.