Sunday, August 17, 2014

" Chocolate ... "

This could be the very minute
I'm aware I'm alive
All these places feel like home

You're the only thing that I love
It scares me more every day
On my knees I think clearer

Goodness knows I saw it coming
Or at least I'll claim I did
But in truth I'm lost for words

A simple mistake starts the hardest time ...
~ Snow Patrol ~ Chocolate ~


During our recent trip to Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to learn about raw cacao and how to make 90% dark organic chocolate within the rain forest Eco-resort we lodged at.  

What is Cacao ...

The botanical name for the tree that chocolate comes from is the Theobroma Cacao.  The word cacao comes from the Olmec people from what is now Mexico.  History shows that chocolate was passed on from the Olmecs to the Mayans and then to the Spanish.  

Cacao is a top source of antioxidants, and it contains an abundance of magnesium and iron.  Cacao powder has been an important food in South America for thousands of years.  Free of any sugar or fillers, raw cacao powder provides a healthy abundance of antioxidants.  Cacao is usually inter cropped with other plants and trees, such as plantains, maize and spices.  

“ ... Cocoa trees grow to between 12 to 15 metres high, and it is about 3-4 years before the flowers first appear. The tiny blossoms are so intricate that insects have difficulty finding their way inside to fertilise the pollen. Because this vital journey to reach the flowers' stamen is so difficult, out of the 10,000 blossoms produced by each tree, only about 20 - 30 are pollinated and become cocoa pods. Each pod contains about 40 seeds which become cocoa beans. It takes one tree's whole crop for the year to make three big bars of Divine ... “

How Chocolate begins ... 

Chocolate begins with the harvest of the cacao pods. Because the pods grow in all degrees of ripeness and at any location on the tree, most harvesting is done by hand with machetes ... 

The pods are split open to reveal the cocoa beans which are surrounded by the fruity pulp of the pod.  This pulp is sometimes used to make drinks or desserts, as it has a 
pleasant fruity taste with subtle chocolate flavour   

The beans and pulp are scraped from the pods and left to ferment in baskets for two to eight days. This step is crucial, as the fermentation process mellows the flavor of the beans and imparts the fruity undertones of the pulp. Without fermentation, the beans would be too astringent and bitter to enjoy. Many high-quality chocolates undergo a long fermentation process, which can be tasted in the floral, fruity notes of the final product. 

After fermentation, the beans are spread in a single layer and left to dry completely, usually in direct sunlight.Then, they are roasted to bring out the most intense chocolate flavors and colors. After roasting, the shells of the beans are removed and the “nibs”remain which is the essence of the cocoa bean that’s full of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

The nibs are ground to a thick, rich paste called chocolate liquor (a misleading term, since the product contains no alcohol). This liquor is the foundation for all chocolate products, and at last begins to resemble and smell like conventional chocolate. The liquor is pressed to remove the cocoa butter, which leaves a powdery disc known as “cocoa press cake.” 

Press cake, when pulverized, becomes common cocoa powder. At this point, the chocolate process differs depending on the recipe and formulation of the manufacturer. If the chocolate is low quality, the pulverized press cake will be mixed with vegetable fats, sugar, and flavorings to become substandard chocolate. If the chocolate is going to be higher quality, cocoa butter will be re-added to the chocolate liquor, along with other ingredients like sugar, vanilla, and milk ... 

The final step in determining the ultimate flavor and texture of the chocolate which is up to the creator.  Finally, the chocolate is poured into molds and cooled for up to 4-6 hours until set.  

One ounce organic raw cacao powder contains:
Calories: 120, Calories from Fat: 23
Total Fat: 2.5g, 4% Recommended daily value
Saturated Fat: 1.5g, 7%
Sodium: 20mg, 1%
Total Carbohydrates: 19.0g, 6%
Dietary Fiber: 7.0g, 28%
Protein: 5.0g

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