Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Valor Chocolates - Almond creme squares - June 9, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Valor Chocolates
Doblones Puro Rellenos Creme de Almendra - Cacao 52%
Weight: .25 oz. (7 g.) (estimate) in 2 squares
Calories: 38 calories (estimate) in 2 squares
Cost: $N/A - gift from a friend (Thank you Toni!)
Purchased from: N/A - gift from a friend

Welcome to the first day of Chocolate and Almonds Theme Week.

A friend kindly donated an assortment of individually wrapped squares from Valor Chocolates (Alicante, Espana) to me. She'd purchased them while on a recent trip to Spain.

I tried the two, bite sized almond creme filled squares this afternoon. Sweet and chocolatey on the outside, the almond creme layer in the center of these 52% cacao chocolates was subtly flavored.

Dandelion Chocolate - Cacao fruit smoothie - June 8, 2015 (bonus post)

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Dandelion Chocolate
Cacao Fruit Smoothie
Good ++
Weight: 10 oz. (estimate)
Calories: unknown
Cost: $7.00
Purchased from: Dandelion Chocolate, San Francisco, CA

I would be remiss if I left out a beverage made with real cacao fruit pulp on the last day of Chocolate Tea and Beverage Theme Week.

Cacao fruit or pulp surrounds a core of perhaps two dozen large cacao "seeds" found in each cacao pod.

Dandelion Chocolate (San Francisco, CA) is the only place I know of in the San Francisco Bay Area where one can buy such as thing.

Dandelion's cacao fruit smoothie is light-colored, sweet and fruity. It's described as having a "tropical lychee" flavor. And it was a great refreshing cold drink to have on a hot day.

I was at Dandelion Chocolate to listen to a presentation about the company's cacao sourcing trip to Cuba, and to see if there were any new chocolate items I might have missed. I walked away with four new single origin bars to try, and some interesting facts about cacao production in Cuba.

Cacao from Cuba
This evening's speakers talked about their exploratory trip to Cuba. Most of cacao grown in Cuba is used domestically; a small portion of high grade cacao is exported -- or I should say could be exported to the U.S. if relations between the two countries continue to improve. The government currently pays farmers roughly $9/month for their cacao and controls exports.

Most cacao in Cuba is grown in the western end of this island nation that is Cuba, in the Baracoa area. This means a bit of a trek if one starts the trip in Havana.

Unlike chocolatiers, who can buy blocks of chocolate others have made, chocolate makers need to develop relationships with farmers who are growing or producing cacao. Knowing what crops might taste like from year to year, what the local fermentation conditions exist, and what would be a fair (or over market) price for good quality beans are typically part of this relationship. This last consideration may be handled differently in Cuba, as the government controls prices.

Traveling to the country of origin has other benefits as well. First, even if trade is not open yet between the Cuba and the U.S., it pays to learn about and develop relationships with people who produce quality beans. Those contacts may help jump-start business once the governments of both countries are ready to move forward.

In the meantime, the few single origin Cuba bars that are available come from a small number of (mostly European) chocolate makers such as Francois Pralus (France), Benoit Nihant (who hails from Belgium), and Bean and Goose Chocolate (Wexford, Ireland).

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