Creme de cacao is a chocolate-flavored 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 flavor 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 powdered 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 flavoring is another non-alcoholic substitution. If your recipe calls for a significant amount of creme de cacao, add heavy cream to the chocolate flavoring to produce a liqueur-like consistency. Chocolate flavoring is sold at most supermarkets.
Replace creme de cacao with chocolate liqueur. Chocolate liqueur contains cream and chocolate, which make it sweeter and more syrupy, but the differences in flavor 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 flavor. Kahlua would not be the preferred choice for recipes calling for white creme de cacao.
References and ResourcesGourmet Sleuth: Creme de Cacao
The Cooks Thesaurus: Chocolate Liqueurs
Cooks Illustrated: Substitute for Creme de Cacao
Mombu: Substitution for Creme de Cacao in Cheesecake Recipe
ResourcesDrinks Mixer: Creme de Cacao Recipes
Webtender: Creme de Cacao