Monday, April 29, 2013

Belcampo Chocolate Truffles - April 27, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Belcampo Lodge
Chocolate Truffle with Nibs
Very Good
Weight: .54 oz. (15.28 g.) (estimate) for 1 truffle
Calories: 80 calories (estimate) for 1 truffle
Cost: N/A - part of package
Purchased from: Belcampo Lodge and Farm, Punta Gorda, Belize

Yesterday, I wrote about Belcampo Mayan Chocolate Pudding, made from scratch, at Belcampo Lodge (Punta Gorda, Belize). This favorite chocolate dessert with a touch of heat, as well as today's featured (brand new) Belcampo chocolate truffles, were special for two different reasons.

First the chocolate for the pudding and truffles was made all in one country (Belize) -- from farm to table. The cocoa beans were grown and fermented within several miles/kilometers of Belcampo Lodge and Farm.

For this first batch, cocoa beans were purchased and transported to a chocolate building at Belcampo's new Agritourism facility to create finished chocolate (recently made possible by new equipment installed on-site at Belcampo). With this facility, Belcampo joins a other local chocolate makers in the Toledo District (where many fine beans are grown in southern Belize). Belcampo is also growing cacao for future production.

With the exception of beans grown in the State of Hawaii, the supply chain for U.S. chocolate makers is usually geographically far flung. Cacao farmers grow beans in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, or other regions within 20 degrees of the equator; whereas chocolate makers and chocolatiers (with sophisticated processing equipment) live in cooler climates (e.g. on the U.S. mainland, or in Europe).

Journey to the Center of Chocolate
Making chocolate is a journey. Today's Belcampo truffles with cacao nibs (pieces of bean) were made using chocolate fresh from Belcampo's new roaster, winnower, concher and tempering machines. (While craft chocolate making is similar to small batch coffee making, there are more steps involved after fermenting and roasting with chocolate.)

Having this production equipment (integrated and local) enables more direct feedback between farmers and makers -- and facilitates production of several cocoa-related end products, including cocoa nibs and the cocoa mass that might be used, with fresh cream, for a ganache (truffle filling). The Belcampo team was experimenting with roast and flavor profiles with the first few pilot batches.

It was an exciting time to be there for the first chocolate making and tasting in the new facility.

Triple Threat Truffles - A Star is Born
Today's delicious rolled truffles were triply good, a look into all that's possible with the cacao bean. A fresh cream, soft, sweet chocolate ganache center was covered with a generous coating of dark chocolate, and then coated in fresh, crunchy, earthy tasting cacao nibs (pieces of cocoa bean).

Given the tropical climate, these truffles were perfect served slightly chilled.

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Latin America Theme Week.

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