A Chocolate State of Mine

Apparently chocolate consumption is way up, so I thought it was a perfect time to share more about its wonderfulness.

Chocolate challenge: Where in the USA do you think Cacao grows? (Hint, there are 6 answers, think broadly).

Whoever guesses correctly first, will get a bar of craft chocolate from one of my favorite US makers.

Chocolate is made from Cacao (Theobroma Cacao), AKA Food of the Gods, AKA Cocoa.

Cacao is a tree fruit and gets its start as beans from a pod. Like coffee, it only grows in a very limited area 20° North and South of the equator from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, known as the Cocoa Belt.

How it got from milky white, goopy beans to chocolate as we know it is quite a miracle. The beans are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, winnowed, conched and finally tempered. Tempering is what gives chocolate the shiny look and snap sound when you break into one.

Interesting tidbit I learned when I was on the island of St. Lucia at Boucan, the Hotel Chocolat plantation — because cacao flowers are very tiny and have no smell, they are pollinated by ants and very small flies instead of bees.

See examples of the Zora Chocolate Maker logo and also chocolate packaging I created for the Ashanty Chocolate company.

40 Degrees of Chocolate Separation

Equator Chocolate Blog LI 2

Did you know that cacao trees where chocolate comes from can only grow within 20 degrees both North and South of the Equator? In the Tropical Zone — just below the Tropic of Cancer to just above the Topic of Capricorn. Though it encompasses the entire globe, it’s still a small world.

And I bet you didn’t know that the cacao pods come in almost every color of the rainbow — I only learned that when I started reading more about chocolate.

Interesting new discovery on the island of Saint Lucia — a giant 6.6 pound cacao pod was harvested from its tree at the Rabot Estate plantation on the grounds of the Boucan Hotel Chocolat. It measures 14” long with a circumference of 19”, it may be the largest cacao pod on record. A normal pod is typically 1-2 lbs! My friend Roxanne Browning of Exotic Chocolate Tasting got the chance to see it in person.