Cacao

Cacao Nibs Chocolate Covered: How Cacao Should Be

Posted in Cacao, Chocolate Products on December 20th, 2009 by sarita – Comments Off

Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs From SweetRiotWe’ll eat pretty much anything covered in chocolate. But why do chocolate-covered cacao nibs make a particularly great snack?   Fresh cacao nibs can be compared to an unsweetened chocolate chip, as they’re made from crushed cocoa beans.  On their own, they’re crunchy, rich and nutritious, not to mention their mood-elevating properties.  Cacao nibs can be blended into smoothies, used in baking or added to granola for a low-calorie, vegan boost.

Cover cacao nibs in dark chocolate and you have a sweet, giftworthy treat that’s also a portable snack.  The taste of chocolate-covered cacao nibs depends on the type of chocolate used.  Chocolate containing a higher level of cacao means a chocolate-covered cacao nib that’s more intense and less sweet than those with a lower percentage.  They will have a smooth, shiny look and taste, with the chocolate balancing some of the mild bitterness of the cacao nib. Look for nuances of fruit, nuts, vanilla, or smokiness, depending on the chocolate used.

You can also combine chocolate-covered cacao nibs in a bowl with pistachios, almonds or dried fruit for a satisfying dessert. Or make your own trail mix incorporating chocolate covered cocoa nibs.  (Note: the chocolate covered cacao nibs contain more caffeine and sugar than the plain nibs themselves, so be mindful of quantities).

For a deliciously refined example of what chocolate covered cacao nibs should taste like, check out Sweetriot Cacao Nibs – Dark Chocolate 65, 12 Units / 1 oz.

Chocolate Cacao Spice Enhance Savory and Sweet Italian Foods

Posted in Cacao, Chocolate Recipes on November 29th, 2009 by sarita – Comments Off

Cacao Chocolate In Italian Tuscan Cooking
As you may know, cacao itself is not sweet.  When chocolate is made, it’s the sugar that provides cacao with its sweetness.

In the 15th century, the spice trade brought precious goods like cardamom, pepper, mace, cloves and cacao to Europe from around the World.  Chefs began to integrate these prized ingredients into their cooking. (sometimes in unappealing amounts).  With its nuanced characteristics, cacao became a key element in Italian savory dishes  from pasta to meats that are still enjoyed in Italian regional cooking today.

“In Tuscany, chocolate is a key ingredient with venison and wild boar,” says Remo Vannini, executive chef of Florence’s L’Incontro at Hotel Savoy. “Like wine, vinegar or lemon juice, chocolate provides just the right touch of acidity. We Italians add a hint of chocolate to many sauces. Chocolate acts not only as an emulsifier, adding natural thickness to sauces, but also enhances the other flavors. It is wonderful with game meats, but lovely, too, with chicken and beef.”

As is Italian tradition, let chocolate spice up dinner – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Cacao and Chocolate: A Global Perspective

Posted in Cacao, Chocolate News on November 20th, 2009 by sarita – Comments Off

chocolate and terroirEven larger chocolate makers are embracing the “bean-to-bar” philosophy.  In the same way that winemakers consider the “terroir” of their grapes, chocolatiers scour the world to find the right cacao to create their own balance of flavors.   Like grapes, cacao flavors differ
based on where it is grown.  Cacao grown in Venezuela tastes differently than that grown in Bali.    The unique chocolate flavors and nuances being created mean continued fascination with cacao from around the world.

“Many of these chocolatiers follow a bean-to-bar philosophy that includes working with cacao farmers and roasting and blending their own “origin” lines, made from cacao grown in a single, specific tropical valley in Venezuela, Madagascar or one of the other equatorial regions in which cacao thrives…”

Real chocolate, he says, is redolent of not just terroir, but the very air in which the beans are fermented. Klassen calls it endemic microbiology 101 — each valley has its own airborne wild yeasts and active bacteria that launch the fermentation process. The resulting confection, he says, is meant to be savored like wine, not gobbled in a blaze of sugary glory.”

Artisanal chocolate is about more than candy – San Jose Mercury News.

Raw Chocolate vs. Roasted Chocolate: Is One Healthier?

Posted in Cacao, Raw Dark Chocolate on November 12th, 2009 by sarita – Comments Off

chocolate cacao pods
This is an interesting discussion at The Chocolate Life about whether raw chocolate is healthier (or tastier) than roasted chocolate.   We’ve heard that roasting chocolate destroys some of its nutritional properties, but is that really true?   As far as taste, you wouldn’t eat raw coffee beans, and roasted chocolate can taste better than raw chocolate.

“Recently, at a San Francisco chocolate event, I overheard the people at the Xocai booth telling the public that the heathful anti-oxidants in chocolate are destroyed by roasting, which is clearly not the case when you look at ORAC ratings. However I would be very interested to hear any thoughts on actually how much of a change roasting makes, and any references to studies on this. Raw chocolate has not been cooked past 114 degreesF I believe, does it taste as good?……”

Raw chocolate, how raw is it really? – The Chocolate Life.

Savory Mexican Chocolate Recipes Are Delicious

Posted in Cacao, Chocolate Recipes on November 2nd, 2009 by sarita – Comments Off

Cacao Tree PodsCacao Web shares a list of wonderful savory dishes incorporating cacao, including this delicious mole recipe.   As you may know, chocolate in its pure, unsweetened form is used in many dishes throughout Mexico.   It gives depth and body to sauces and is often enlivened by hot chiles and other herbs and spices, particularly in mole sauces.

Here’s their recipe for authentic chicken with mole negro that is much like the one we learned during our cooking class in Mexico. Check out Cacao Web’s other recipes for chile con carne and more after the jump.

Chicken with Mole Negro from Cacaoweb

Ingredients

3 tablespoons corn oil
8 whole chicken legs with thighs attached
4 dried pasilla chilies, chopped
4 dried ancho chilies, chopped
4 dried mulato chilies, chopped
1 can (14 oz / 400 g) tomatoes or 3 large, fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup (2.4 dl) chicken broth
4 tablespoons raisins
4 tablespoons peanuts, shelled and skinned
1 corn tortilla
½ teaspoon anise seeds or ¼ teaspoon ground
½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 oz (60 g) bittersweet chocolate

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Method

1. Cook the chicken legs until tender.
2. Roast the chilies, transfer to a bowl and add hot chicken broth. Soak until tender.
3. Roast onion, garlic and peanuts.
4. In a blender mix tomatoes, chilies, onion, garlic, raisins, peanuts, tortilla, chicken broth, salt and spices, and puree on high speed.
5. Heat the sauce, add chocolate and mix well when the chocolate has melted.
6. Add more salt or spices as needed.
7. Cook the chicken legs in the sauce at low heat until cooked through while stirring, approximately 30 minutes.
8. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with rice and a salad.

Savory Dishes (with fish or meat) with Chocolate (recipe collection) including Chili con Carne, Mole Negro and Salmon.