Chocolate

Eating chocolate a.k.a. "Food of the Gods", is and always will be a magical experience for everyone, everywhere. My first experience with real Cacao (not the cheap corner shop chocolate bar) was about 10 years ago, while travelling the Amazon in Perú, there were several Cacao plantations, we visited a farm and experienced the amazing Cacao Fruit for the very first time. Not many people get to eat the fruit since the beans inside are quickly removed to start the fermentation process in order to make what most people get to know as Chocolate.

We've visited several chocolate factories over the years, and for some reason, the food industry make things appear much more complicated than they really are, the process for making chocolate seemed endless and overly elaborate, not to mention the countless ingredients they use. No wonder people don't want to bother attempting to make their own! 

How exactly do we go from a Cacao Pod to a bar of Chocolate?

  • The Cacao Pods are collected from the tree. Color varies from red, orange and yellow. It takes about 6 months for a tree to grow a mature pod.

  • The fruits are cut in half and the seeds are taken out to dry and ferment by themselves. The fleshy and sugary pulp that covers each seed are key to the fermentation process.

  • Once the vinegar smell disappears and the pulp dries out, the beans reduce in bitterness in order to unleash the chocolate scent and taste that we love.

  • The beans are then dried, roasted and ground into whole cacao powder, or in most cases, separated into dried Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter.

CACAO HEALTH BENEFITS

  • BRAIN FOOD! Rich in Minerals (Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorous, Copper, Manganese, Zinc)

  • HEART FOOD! Contains Theobromine, which also dilates the cardiovascular system to allow mineral absorption. 

  • Contains Phenylethylamine (feel good characteristic). Mild stimulant

  • High Antioxidant levels

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Fresh Cacao Pod

Fresh Cacao Pod

Sweet and fleshy Cacao Fruit

Sweet and fleshy Cacao Fruit

Cacao Powder - Cacao Nibs - Cacao Butter - Cacao Beans

Cacao Powder - Cacao Nibs - Cacao Butter - Cacao Beans

After a visit to yet another chocolate factory, this time in Tanzania, things started to change in my perception of how to make real chocolate. These ladies managed to keep the process simple and their final product was superb! I decided I was going to give it a shot! So I bought some Cacao Powder, a few chunks of Cacao Butter and set off to my kitchen. It's hard to describe the feeling of empowerment when you see your first REAL chocolate bar in front of you! I ran to Sameer and screamed I JUST MADE CHOCOLATE!. It was an epic moment.

Do you want to give it a try? I'll take you through it...

Use simple ingredients to get started: Cacao Butter, Cacao Powder, Sweetner, Salt, Nuts

Use simple ingredients to get started: Cacao Butter, Cacao Powder, Sweetner, Salt, Nuts

BASIC HOME MADE CHOCOLATE


INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 Cup organic Cacao Powder (unsweetened)

  • 1/2 Cup organic Cacao Butter

  • Agave Nectar or Stevia

  • Pinch of Rock or Sea Salt (unrefined)

  • Nuts, Seeds or Dried Fruits

HOW WE DO IT...

  • Melt the Cacao Butter in bain marie or really low heat

  • Mix the rest of the ingredients. If you feel like the cacao is too bitter or strong you can mix some Carob or Lucuma Powder into the mix.

  • You can use ice cubes or a plate as a mold, or you can get the fancy chocolate molds. Either way, your chocolate is going to taste great!

  • Keep refrigerated, remember that how made chocolate doesn't use any binding agents or preservatives. Depending on the weather, the cacao butter will or will not melt at room temperature.

Use a plate as a base, a simple baking sheet will prevent it from sticking.

Use a plate as a base, a simple baking sheet will prevent it from sticking.

After a few minutes in the fridge you can cut some chunks and enjoy!

After a few minutes in the fridge you can cut some chunks and enjoy!

I played with heart and ice cube molds. You can also use popped quinoa as a filling

I played with heart and ice cube molds. You can also use popped quinoa as a filling

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Makes the PERFECT gift!

Makes the PERFECT gift!


SOURCES:

Photos by: The Mindful Sprout™ 

Books:

  • Chocolate Unwrapped: The Surprising Health Benefits of America's Favorite Passion, by Rowan Jacobsen

  • The Origins of Human Diet and Medicine: Chemical Ecology, by Timothy Johns

  • Superfoods, by  David Wolfe (Autor)

  • Cultivo del Cacao, Colección de Cultivos Tropicales by Mihail Rimache Artica