Yes, there seems to be a pattern here. I seem to post multiple posts on either tacos al pastor or chocolate. Can you blame me? We found ourselves on a chocolate tour in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Seeing the process from start to finish was nothing like I expected. Hell, I didn’t even know chocolate grew on trees. Seriously.
It was time to be educated on one of the things I hold dearest to my heart – chocolate.
We found ourselves starting the tour at about 8am – before loads of people started lining up for the personal tour. At $25 a pop I was glad to get a more personal explanation of the process… oh, and all you can eat chocolate.
So these are what the plants look like on the tree. The flowers all over the bark turn into the cocoa fruits. If you’re lucky you can avoid fungi that destroys trees and the fruit turns brown.
This is the inside of the fruit. You have to beat it against a wall or a tree pretty damn hard to open it. The fruit inside is slimy, sweet, tangy and tart. The “seed” is what is made into chocolate. I carried one around with me for about an hour as I destroyed the contents. Best. Fruit. Ever.
This is Shaun, Kim and Barry (Destination CR) listening to our awesome guide discussing the various plants found naturally in the rainforest.
The fruit is removed from the shell and fermented for 6 days to get rid of the fruit on the outside and take away some bitterness (and the juice is used for a local rum).
The seeds are then dried in the sun for an additional 6 days.
The beans are then roasted in a wok looking thing over a fire.
They are manually ground (and it is a pain in the ass) and reroasted a wee bit. You can boil it again to remove some cocoa oil/butter and this allows the chocolate to be melted. They didn’t boil it during the tour but I had no clue that is how they did it!
They give it another quick roast for good measure.
For milk chocolate they add equal parts (to chocolate) dehydrated milk and sugar and to add a bit of sweetness a shot or two of condensed milk.
It is all mixed together until it is well blended. They rolled it out for us and we took pieces of this rawer form of chocolate. It was like fudge it was so rich. I ate two pieces. Shaun, Barry and Kim ate my share and some. 😛
At least if I was stranded on a desert island with a whole bunch of cocoa trees I will know how to keep myself fed and happy.