The Cacao Tree
Believe it or not, our beloved chocolate candy bars, chocolate chips, and chocolate truffles actually started as a plant. A cacao tree grows in tropical/rainforest regions with lots of rain and sunshine! After the cacao tree flowers, it produces a seed pod. Each seed pod contains 20 to 50 cacao beans. These cacao beans crumble into cacao nibs after they are fermented. Cacao beans are loaded with minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols. Raw cacao beans are fermented or roasted before they are processed, heated, and turned into its refined form known as cocoa. Cocoa is then mixed with fat, sugar, and other natural or artificial flavors yielding the mass produced chocolate we buy at the stores.
Global Chocolate Companies Vs. Craft Chocolatiers
Interestingly enough, global chocolate companies like Cadbury, Hershey’s, and Nestle have different recipes and use different ingredients depending upon which country they are selling their product in. Who ever would have thought that chocolate actually does taste better in Europe. If you want to support a local or craft chocolatier, you will likely get a superior quality and flavored chocolate. Usually a chocolatier has a passion for the best chocolate and they have higher standards for ingredients. I know I’d rather indulge in a superior gourmet chocolate. Zingerman’s Deli is a specialty food store and restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI. It’s a great example of a craft chocolate company. Not only do they know the origin of their cacao beans, they’ve traveled there to learn every aspect of the chocolate making process. Check out Zingerman’s chocolate truffles!
David Avocado Wolfe is one of the first companies I was exposed to that made raw chocolates. When he was in town, he brought some real cacao beans with him that still had the white pith on the outside of the bean. I was shocked in how sweet this pith was, almost like a jelly bean! You can buy Sacred Chocolate
on David Wolfe’s website.
It’s important to help develop a child’s palate while they are young. The more flavors they are exposed to the more likely they are to choose healthy, nutritious foods over processed, sugar and salt laden foods. Dark chocolate is a great food you could introduce the bitter flavor with. Bitter foods help aid in digestion by stimulating the gallbladder to produce bile.
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