If a Recipe Calls for Creme De Cacao- Can I Substitute Something Else?

If a recipe calls for creme de cacao- can i substitute something else? any quick replys would be great.

Creme de cacao is a chocolate-flavoured liqueur made from the cacao bean. It is available in dark brown and white—both versions taste the same, and have a slight essence of vanilla. You can drink this alcoholic beverage straight, or as an ingredient in coffee drinks, martinis and other cocktails.

Creme de cacao is also an ingredient in desserts, including grasshopper pie. The white version is preferred in recipes. Because the primary flavour is chocolate, there are numerous substitutions for recipes that call for creme de cacao.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Powder Substitution

Combine powdered white chocolate with water, or icing sugar with non-alcoholic vanilla. Add just enough of the liquid ingredient until your mixture resembles the consistency of a liqueur. Add the same measurement of the non-alcoholic substitute to the recipe as you would creme de cacao.

Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Flavoring

Chocolate flavouring is another non-alcoholic substitution. If your recipe calls for a significant amount of creme de cacao, add double cream to the chocolate flavouring to produce a liqueur-like consistency. Chocolate flavouring is sold at most supermarkets.

Chocolate Liqueur

Chocolate Liqueur

Replace creme de cacao with chocolate liqueur. Chocolate liqueur contains cream and chocolate, which make it sweeter and more syrupy, but the differences in flavour and consistency are subtle when used as a substitute for creme de cacao in baked goods.



Kahlua is an alcoholic liqueur which is thicker, but similar in appearance to brown creme de cacao. Kahlua is made from coffee beans rather than cacao beans. Like creme de cacao, Kahlua is sweet, and has an essence of vanilla. Consider Kahlua as a substitute if you don’t mind your cocktail or dessert having a mild coffee flavour. Kahlua would not be the preferred choice for recipes calling for white creme de cacao.


What’s A Good Cacao Powder Substitute?

Cacao powder is a healthy way to give your dishes a strong chocolate flavor but not all grocery stores carry it. In addition, its powerful flavor can be an acquired taste. If you want a substitute that provides many or all of cacao powder’s benefits without the drawbacks, consider one of the cacao powder substitutes below.

Your best bet: Dutch processed cocoa powder

Dutch processed cocoa powder has been washed with an alkaline solution to neutralize its acidity. The result is a cocoa that is less bitter and that will taste richer. In addition, Dutch processed cocoa is darker in color compared to other forms of cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa is a closer match to cacao powder in terms of its antioxidant content than other cocoa powders. This is important since antioxidants are one of the reasons that people use cacao powder. Even though cacao powder is an antioxidant superfood with an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score of 95,500 µmol per 100 g, Dutched cocoa’s score is still impressive at 40,200 µmol. This is far higher than other superfoods such as acai berries, which have an ORAC score of 18,500 µmol.

You can use Dutch processed cocoa powder as a substitute for cacao powder, but bear in mind that cacao powder has undergone minimal processing and is very strong as a result. Use twice the amount of Dutch process cocoa that your recipe requires for cacao powder. Note also that because the acidity in this type of cocoa powder has been neutralized, it will not react with alkaline leavening agents like baking soda. You will need to use baking powder instead.

A Decent Second Choice: Cacao Paste

Cacao paste is a great way to add a natural cacao taste and smell without the bitterness that can come with cacao powder. Cacao paste consists of cacao beans that have been crushed and liquefied. The liquid solidifies at room temperature due to its high cocoa butter content. The process used to crush the beans does not involve the use of heat, which means that it does not affect the nutrients in the cacao beans.

Cacao paste still has all of its fat, unlike cacao powder. This means that other fats in your recipe will have to be adjusted to compensate for the fat in cacao paste.

Because cacao paste is more than 50 percent cocoa butter, you will have to use more of it than your recipe requires for cacao powder. Use twice as much cacao paste as your recipe indicated for cacao powder.

In a Pinch: Natural Cocoa Powder

Natural cocoa powder is similar to cacao powder in that both have had their fat removed and neither has been Dutch processed. This means that natural cocoa powder retains its acidity and can be used exactly as you would use cacao powder; for example, you can use it with baking soda. It differs from cacao powder with respect to the amount of heat used to treat it. Natural cocoa powder is processed at temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit; cacao powder is not supposed to exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit during its processing. This helps to preserve the antioxidants and enzymes that are responsible for its status as a superfood.

Use twice as much natural cocoa powder as your recipe requires for cacao powder.

Other Alternatives

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Carob powder has been used as a cocoa alternative for a long time and provides a similar appearance and flavor as well as quite a few nutrients. It can be used in most of the dishes that require cacao powder.


Bartending 101: Chocolate Liqueur vs Creme de Cacao

Chocolate Liqueur vs Creme de Cacao

There seems to be some confusion as to what the difference is between these two products and when to use them in cocktails recipes. If both contain about 15-25% grain alcohol by volume (30-50 proof) and both taste like chocolate, what’s the difference? Lots.

If you compare side by side shots of crème de cacao (pronounced cream da ka-cow) and chocolate liqueur you’ll see there is a vast difference in consistency and color. The reason for that is crème de cacao’s main ingredient is the cacao bean which gives it its light chocolate flavor. Other ingredients such as sugar, vanilla and other herbs are added to produce a more flavorful end product without altering the consistency. For dark crème de cacao, the beans are distilled and percolated which changes the color. Chocolate liqueur adds cream and actual chocolate (among many other ingredients and flavors) to their alcohol base thus producing a stronger, thicker, more dominate chocolate flavored product.

When to Use Crème De Cacao.

Light or clear crème de cacao is used when you want a hint of chocolate flavor but not to alter the intended color of a cocktail such as a Grasshopper. Dark crème de cacao is the same flavor as the light but is used when you want a darker colored cocktail such as Brandy Alexander.

Crème de cacao cocktails:

Cocaine Shooter

  • 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • 1/2 Irish Cream
  • 1/2 oz Dark Crème de Cacao
  • 1/2 Tia Maria
  • 1/4 Half and Half
  • Splash of Cola
Pour all ingredients into a shaker tin with ice. Shake well and strain into a shot glass and consume.

Polar Bear

  • 1 oz Crème de cacao
  • 1 oz Peppermint schnapps
Pour into a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into a shot glass. Drink. Should taste like a peppermint patty.

When to use chocolate liqueur.

Chocolate liqueur is a great dessert cocktail served either neat or on the rocks. It’s also a main ingredient in chocolate martinis and cocktails where the chocolate flavor is dominant and color and consistency isn’t an issue.

Chocolate Liqueur cocktails:

Blind Russian

  • 3/4 oz Irish Cream
  • 3/4 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz Coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
  • Milk
Pour all ingredients into a double rocks glass with ice. Give a good stir or shake in a shaker tin.

Broken Heat Martini

  • 2 1/2 oz Absolut kurant vodka
  • 1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa powder or hot chocolate instant mix
  • Orange wedge

Run orange wedge along the rim of a martini/cocktail glass and dip into cocoa powder to rim. You can also use chocolate flavored sugar. Pour vodka and Chocolate Liqueur into a shaker tin with ice. Shake well and strain into the glass. Garnish with the orange wedge.

When it comes down to it, which one you use is really a matter of personal preference. Do you want a heavy chocolate flavor or not? Do you want a thicker cocktail or not? You can substitute crème de cacao for chocolate liqueur and vice versa. It’s chocolate so there’s really no way you can go wrong.


What is Creme de Cacao

Creme de cacao is a sweet liqueur flavored with chocolate beans and vanilla. It contains no cream and has an average ABV of 20%. According to the book ‘The New Taste of Chocolate‘ by Maricel E. Presilla, white creme de cacao is almost transparent and very sweet. Dark varieties are dark brown, with more caramel flavor. This liqueur is both gluten-free and vegan, making it appropriate for almost anyone to enjoy. It differs from the chocolate liqueur, which can be thicker and much sweeter. A two-ounce serving of creme de cacao contains around 200 calories .

How to Make Creme de Cacao?

It is very easy to make creme de cacao, let us take a look.

Homemade Creme de Cacao Recipe

  • 1 and 1/3 cups of vodka
  • 2/3 cups of cocoa nibs
  • 1 cup of water (filtered)
  • 1` and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean split open
  • 2 tsp of real vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces of cocoa butter


Creme de Cacao Substitutes

There are many creme de cacao substitutes, they include the following:

  • Chocolate Liqueur: Chocolate liqueur is a popular substitute for this alcoholic beverage . It will not work in recipes where white varieties of this liqueur are called for.
  • Kahlua: Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that is strong, dark, and sweet, and can adequately replace this liqueur.
  • Non-alcoholic chocolate flavoring: Non-alcoholic chocolate flavoring can be substituted in most recipes, although you will also need to change the ratios in your recipe to account for the lack of liquid.
  • Non-alcoholic chocolate powder: The non-alcoholic chocolate powder can be used as a substitute, but it is best to add the powder to the appropriate amount of liquid that is called for, in order to keep the recipe intact.

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.


DIY Creme de Cacao

DIY Creme de Cacao is incredibly easy to make, only requiring very few ingredients and a little patience. Creme de cacao is used in various cocktails such as the Brandy Alexander, Grasshopper and Golden Cadillac to name a few.

  • 750mL Vodka or Rum (high proof, 50%)
  • 500g Cacao Nibs
  • 3 Vanilla Beans (Split)

  1. Add both the cacao nibs, vanilla beans and your liquor to a swingtop bottle
  2. Rest for 2 weeks, shaking periodically
  3. Add 1:1 simple syrup to your bottle
  4. Rest for a further 1-2 days
  5. Voila, brown creme de cacao!


Homemade White Crème de Cacao

Sometimes, you need chocolate. Ok, I’m kidding. You always need chocolate. That’s probably true if you replace “you” with “me” or “I” — as I always need chocolate. Some of my favorite cocktails, treats, candies, cookies or pretty much anything you can name are chocolate based. However, sometimes, especially when we’re talking cocktails, you don’t want a dark crème de cacao. Sometimes, you need a light one. Dissatisfied with sugary sweet store versions, we set out to create our own Homemade White Crème de Cacao!

After some quick searching, I discovered that most Homemade Crème de Cacao recipes (including our own!) made the dark version — and let’s be perfectly straight, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. When you’re making an extra dark chocolate cocktail (say the Extreme Chocolate Martini), you want an extra dark chocolate crème de cacao.

For those times when you’re making a more delicate cocktail, you want a more delicate crème de cacao. Those recipes will call for a white crème de cacao, giving you that light chocolate kiss, but without the extra fun character that darker chocolate brings.

I like to think of white crème de cacao like white chocolate, it adds some chocolate character without taking over everything. Apparently, as my buddy Eric always insists, white chocolate is awesome, while dark chocolate is just too funky (but come on, this is the same guy who thinks Batman is better than Wolverine, so take his advice with a grain of salt). When your cocktail calls for a delicate chocolate flavor, say the Grasshopper or White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Martini, it calls for white crème de cacao.

If you’re going to take the time to go through the effort of making a quality cocktail, sourcing the best ingredients that you can, prepping, shaking, straining and enjoying, then you’ve earned the right to make your own Homemade White Crème de Cacao. Heck, even if you don’t, you still owe it to yourself to make your own. Why? It’s awesome, you control the sweetness and it makes for great gifts if you’re feeling crafty.

Now, let’s get down to the Homemade White Crème de Cacao!

White Crème de Cacao

  • 750ml of vodka
  • 8 oz. cocoa butter (this is almost exclusively used for cosmetics, but you can find some fit for eating — here’s the one we used from Amazon)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Mixing: Beginning at the beginning, take your 8 oz. of cocoa butter and break it up into small bits. The extra surface area will help the alcohol bind, combine and take on that great chocolate flavor. Put those cocoa butter bits into a vessel for storage (we used a Pyrex container, but anything nonreactive works great, heck, a mason jar!) and add your vodka.
  2. Waiting: Yup, you need to give it time, sadly. Feel free to wait as little as a week or up to a month (if you’re really sadistic). We gave it two weeks and are plenty satisfied with the chocolate flavor.
  3. Straining: After waiting your allotted time, strain your mixture. We used a cheesecloth lined strainer. If you want to get super granular, feel free to use a coffee filter. Not drinking coffee myself and Alice always using a French press, we don’t have any around the house.
  4. Sweetening: Now that you have your white chocolate vodka (sans any sugar in there, it’s just chocolate vodka, which is very nice, but not white crème de cacao), it’s time to sweeten it. Make your simple syrup by combining your one cup of sugar to one cup of water and boiling, then cooling. You now have two cups of simple syrup. How much do you use? Oh no, that’s up to you to decide! If you want it super-duper sweet, add it all. How much did we use? I started adding a 1/4 cup at a time and ended at just a smidge over 3/4 of a cup. How do you tell how much you should add? It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it: taste it along the way. I’m confident you’re up to the task.
  5. Bottling: You’re done! You have your Homemade White Crème de Cacao, now all you need to so is bottle it. At this point, set it aside, let it mature for a day or three and then make your favorite cocktail. Or drink it straight. This is a judgement free zone friends.

Go forth and enjoy your Homemade Crème de Cacao!

Oh, yeah, so we left this a pure (white) chocolate flavor. Can you add flavorings? Of course you can! Want some vanilla? Add it! Think a little cinnamon would taste great in your Homemade White Chocolate Crème de Cacao? You bet it would, add some! Starting with a solid base opens up a world of possibilities for you.

Don’t mind me, I’m going to go enjoy a cocktail with our newfound glorious white crème de cacao.


Homemade Creme de Cacao

Ah, chocolate, one of my truest vices. Seriously, if there’s a chocolate dessert on a menu, I’m morally obligated to get it. Same with any new chocolate bars I see. That’s why I knew I had to make some crème de cacao. Why buy it when you can make it almost as easily?

Here’s the thing about my chocolate obsession, my mother is Danish, which means I was brought up with a certain not-too-sweet sensibility towards chocolate. Simply put: for me, it’s bittersweet or nothing.

That’s why, when I bought a crème de cacao and it tasted like a sugar bomb with ever so subtle chocolate hints, it just wouldn’t do. Hence, I knew the time was right to make my own. After some testing, you’re in luck, you can make your own crème de cacao too! This works great for yourself or as a fantastic gift (I know I’d love a gift of crème de cacao).

I tweaked this recipe to taste like a dark chocolate bar (about 76% cacao, we’ll get into the math later). That’s a personal preference for me, you can adjust this to your own taste. Would you like it a little sweeter? Add some more simple syrup. It’ll also help kick down the proof (I also don’t like under proofed drinks, if you’re going to drink, you should know you’ve had something).

Final note: this takes time. That’s not to scare you away, just letting you know. It is, however, 100% worth it. Take control of your chocolate destiny! Onto the recipe for your very own DIY crème de cacao.

Crème de Cacao

  • 1.5 liters of 100 proof vodka
  • 16 oz. cacao nibs (also known as two cups)
  • 3 vanilla beans, split (yes, actual vanilla beans)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Mixing: First things first, add the cacao nibs, vodka and vanilla beans in your long-term vessel of choice. Shake it to mix everything up and let all of the ingredients get to know each other. Then store it in a cool, dark place.
  2. Waiting: This is the most agonizing part. Every day or two, take your mix out and give it a shake. After a few days, you’ll notice a white cloudiness in your mixture. Don’t worry, it’s not gone rotten on you. That’s the cacao butter. How long do you wait? Give it at least two weeks.
  3. Straining: After two weeks, take out your now brown liquid and strain out the nibs and vanilla beans using a coffee filter (or a few layers of cheesecloth if you so choose). Now you have super-powered chocolate liquor! Time to make it a little more drinkable.
  4. Sweetening: Your choice: either combine the water and sugar on the stove to dissolve the sugar, then cool; or combine in a microwave and heat them up until the sugar melts. Once your simple syrup is cool, add it to your newly strained liquor.
  5. Bottling: At this point, you have crème de cacao! Congratulations. Take your newly created drink and put it into the long-term vessel of your choice. We went with a couple of simple 750ml bottles. Once everything is bottled, let it rest for a day or two before you drink it. It’s the final rest that helps the syrup and the booze become fast friends and mature in flavor.


Congratulations, you’ve made crème de cacao! Your friends are already envious of you (I can tell). As far as long-term storage is concerned, I like to keep mine in the fridge. As it’s plenty alcoholic, you can reasonably keep this on the counter if you really want to, it shouldn’t go bad. However, that’s not my preference.

After a few days, you might notice that there’s a white, milky substance that’s still in your decanted and strained cacao — don’t worry, that’s just a little bit of the lingering cacao butter. That’s just a sign that you made it yourself and some of the quality ingredients are still in there. It’s called crème de cacao, there should be a little cacao butter in there.

As far as the math is concerned, here’s some for you nerds out there. We have 1,500ml of booze, 473ml of simple syrup, which if you add all together is 1,973ml total. Now, let’s take the unsweetened cacao (that’s the straight booze) and find out the percentage it is in the final volume and we get 76%. Hence, that’s our bittersweet chocolate bar! If that’s a little too bitter for you, adjust to your own taste — that’s part of the joy of making it yourself.

Finally, you might be asking how boozy this is. For that, I went over to Home Distiller and used their handy, dandy dilution calculator. If you put in the stats, diluting 1.5L of 50% alcohol down to 38% you’ll see that you need to add .474L of water (or simple syrup in our case — and wouldn’t you know it, two cups is right about 474ml!). So, our final proof is 76.

If that’s a little too strong for you, adjust your syrup. For example, if you add another cup of syrup, you’ll be down to a proof of 60. Looking for something still a little less potent? Instead of starting with 100 proof vodka, feel free to start with 80 proof.

Once all of the work is done (and really, it’s mostly just pouring and waiting), you have your very own, homemade crème de cacao! Go forth and drink your amazing chocolate libation my friend.

If you’re looking for a few chocolate cocktails to indulge your chocoholic side (I always am), then do try out an Extreme Chocolate Martini (subtle name), kick it up seven or eight notches with a Black Forest Martini (Emeril would be proud), or refresh your childhood with a Barrel Aged S’more Martini (it’ll take extra time, but it’s totally worth it — and ignore those store-bought crème de cacao pics, we had to acknowledge that some people don’t want to spend time for greatness like your or I do).

Are you looking for a homemade white crème de cacao instead of this dark one? You, friend, are in luck! Check out our Homemade White Crème de Cacao. Just as good as this, but pale!


  • Direws says:

    But I Used A Larger Amount Creme De Menthe

    I made these cookies for my family for our Valentines Day celebration. My sister wanted to make chocolates and she had found this recipe on Epicurious . Unfortunately, the entire time we were making these they tasted a bit off, but I just thought it was because they hadn’t set up enough in the fridge yet. I usually taste things multiple times while cooking/baking to make sure that we’re not going to burn anything. We were almost finished when my mom pulled one from the oven and said it tasted like soap. She threw them all out except for one, which she gave back to me so I could decide if we still wanted to serve them at our Valentine

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