Thursday, December 28, 2023

Bonus Entry - Homemade Bean to Confection Chocolate - Dec. 2023

Chocolate of the Month

Tropical Fruit Box
The Chocolatier's Apprentice Box
Ecuador Homemade Bean to Bar Chocolate
Good ++
Weight: .7 oz. (19.8 g.) (estimate) for 2 chocolates
Calories: 108.5 calories (estimate) in 2 chocolates
Cost: N/A - Christmas gift from family - 1 complete kit/box with 6 large cacao pods
Purchased from: Tropical Fruit Box, online order (Thank you Megan!)

Welcome to a chocolate bonus entry that spanned most of December 2023. How is that possible?

Today's weeks-long chocolate experience was made possible by the Chocolatier's Apprentice Box available from Tropical Fruit Box (Miami, FL). There were opportunities to sample cacao fruit, cacao beans and nibs, and finished chocolate over a period of almost three weeks.

The boxed kit included: six, generously sized cocoa pods (grown in Ecuador); great directions for the step-by-step chocolate making process; and a small silicon mold for chocolates. (Note: some pods may arrive slightly riper than others.)

The first part of this edible experience came after the unboxing, and cutting open real cacao pods (from Ecuador). Few people in the U.S. have seen cacao trees or fruit, outside of Hawaii or perhaps South Florida.*

I loved tasting the cream-colored cacao fruit pulp inside these pods that covered the core of cacao seeds (beans) used to make chocolate. The ripe fruit had luscious peach and melon flavors. 

The next steps: fermenting, roasting (which filled the kitchen with a delightful chocolate aroma) and cracking/winnowing. 

The next tasting opportunity involved sampling the roasted nibs. And, finally, days later, cocoa butter was blended with ground seeds (beans), and pouring chocolate into molds to firm up into the final chocolates. These confections were enjoyed over this past (Christmas) week. 

This Apprentice Box provided a great learning experience. Experiencing how much work goes into making chocolate from bean-to-bar may increase your appreciation for chocolate makers (who make chocolate from scratch) as well as the chocolates.

Ingredients: Cocoa Pods + other ingredients along the way.

*Hawaii is the U.S. State with the largest commercial cacao plantations/farms. South Florida, slightly north of the ideal equatorial cacao growing belt (20 degrees (Latitude) north and/or south of the Equator) occasionally experiences cold snaps, as well as tropical storms, perhaps limiting reliable production. The Hawaiian Islands range from 19 - 22 degrees from the Equator. (Miami is located at approximately 25.6 degrees North of the Equator.)

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