Pure Love in Cocoa

…weaving through the Cocoa Field of Criollo and Trinatorio, we feel like moglie in the jungle, in our own secret hiding space, moving freely…we keep our eyes open for a ripe yellow/red pod, welcoming us to enjoy it’s sweet fruit… Yes!  Kelly spots one and he graciously slice off the pod, cracks it against the tree to reveal the lush, white, fresh fruit inside… each seed stacked carefully, one on top of the other, we each grab the first grape size seed and pop it into our mouth, as the “starburst” sweet wakens our tastebuds…mmm… I, personally, enjoy to eat even the raw Cocoa seed, but most agree that it is to bitter, and just enjoy the sweet surroundings that the seed offers…. such a treat!

Once the pod is opened, the process of fermentation begins! At Maya Mountain Cocoa, the beans, from farmers all over the Toledo District, absorb the tropical Belizean sunshine, adding a warmth and sweetness to the beans as they ferment, richer and deeper each day, just long enough to absorb the flavors of the unique surroundings of it’s Cocoa Tree, from where it was originally harvested.  This is a careful process that requires patience and time… where a deeper appreciation for the flavor is fostered by all who experience it.  Even the lovely taste of a fermented bean is a unique experience in itself… tangy and fruity, the soft bean’s texture almost feels like the first bite of a chewing gum!  Energizing chewing gum.  Good Morning!

Back by the Roaster: Kelly empty’s the bag of freshly fermented beans into the deep purple Roaster (as I call it), and sets his timer for 15 minutes for this particular roast, adjusting the temperature and time as needed… each roast an ambitious experiment, scientifically documenting each step, waiting for the best combination that honors the flavor and all that it offers.  As a toasty smell fills the air, we test the bean every 2 minutes to observe it’s changes… first soft and subtle…as each minutes passes the flavor becomes more defined, picking up the luscious fruit flavors that emerge within each seed… Bright and vibrant in our mouth!

After roasting, the beans are ready to be winnowed and then conched.  Spinning and twirling into a chocolate dream, mixing the flavor in the cocoa nibs with a slight hint of sugar, in preparation for the 70% bar of chocolate.  This is another process that I am in awe of… the careful interpretation of when to add the sugar, and how long to mix for… there has been morning’s that Kelly arises bright and early before the sun, to lovingly add the sugar to the chocolate… “it’s time!”  I am overjoyed by this occasional morning routine, and gladly will walk down to the chocolate building to make sure he added just the right amount of sugar… (aka: any excuse to enjoy his Chocolate!)… ah yes:), as I dip a spoon into the conche machine (carefully).

When the time is right, as decided by the Chocolate Connoisseur, it is time to pour the beautiful, silky, rich chocolate into the temper machine… to ensure the bar has the perfect “shine” and “crack” to it… another patient process of experimentation.  In just the right amount of time, the process is almost complete, and the chocolate is ready to be poured into the chocolate moulds… for now, a classic bar shape will do!

Into the fridge they go to set, and in the shortest time, in the whole process of making chocolate… the bar is ready!

Smooth, creamy texture, that melts in just the right way to experience the layers of flavor that this complete bar offers, encompassing an array of beans from local Belize, grown sustainability, fermented with care, roasted to perfected, winnowed just perfectly, and conched and tempered to divinity… and finally, carefully poured to make a bar of Pure Love.

Absolutely divine!

 

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