Since meeting raw chocolate, I have fallen in love with it. The idea of making chocolate in my kitchen gave me Goddess status. It’s not just the romance of chocolate that I love, it’s the history it was borne out of, its explicit ritualistic aspect, it’s properties of fertility, heart-mind balancing powers.
Raw chocolate is as different from regular commercial-grade chocolate as a high-end wine is different to a cocktail out of a can! There is no comparison. The effects of eating either are polar opposites. Raw chocolate makes you feel vital, alive and happy and regular chocolate makes you feel awful, tired and drained.
I recently bought the book,Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About the World’s Greatest Food and in between reading it, experienced a chocolate-tasting (not raw but so pure and good) on one of the most gorgeous, sprawling wine estates of Paarl, South Africa, called DV Chocolate and then finally sampled some raw chocolate at the small and sparse chocolate boutique in downtown Cape Town called Honest Chocolate.
To be honest, the information contained in Naked Chocolate was not astonishing at all but it was interesting. Now I know that when I feeling the monthly blues and instinctively reach for my 85% slab of chocolate (which we always have a steady supply of), my body is craving magnesium:
“Cacao is the world’s best source of natural magnesium and a diet rich in magnesium contributes towards a healthy heart, encourages brain activity, soothes menstrual cramps, encourages strong peristalsis, increases flexibility and develops healthy bones.” (Naked Chocolate)
It goes on to say that magnesium is a primary alkaline mineral and that it opens up 300 possible detoxification pathways in the body. Chocolate detox? Name the day and I’ll be there!
Now this heart-mind connection the book talks about isn’t just hippy piffle. Shame on you for thinking that. according to Naked Chocolate, magnesium is concentrated 18 times more in the heart muscle than it is in the blood stream. Usually heart problems = colloratory deficiency in magnesium. Eat your chocolate, goddamnit!
Also, magnesium improves the overall vigour of the heart by decreasing blood coagulation, allowing blood to flow more freely and actively through the blood vessels which in turn decrease blood pressure.
Beyond and above it super food status, the burning question on my mind was:
“How does raw cacao maintain its rawness throughout the bean-to-bar process?”
According to the information I received at the chocolate-tasting and from the book, Naked Chocolate, this is the standard bean-to-bar process:
- the seeds (cacao) are removed from the fibrous husks with the milky goopy pulp still attached to the seeds
- they are laid down on large leaves and left to ferment for 3 – 5 days
- during these few days, the seeds slightly germinate in the acidic fermentation pulp
- the pulp dries up then the seeds are taken to be air-dried/ sun-dried (about 2 weeks)
- the seeds are turned every few hours to maintain an even temperature and to keep enzyme levels active
Then comes roasting – for raw chocolate, the roasting is kept very light. For cooked chocolate, temperatures go into the hundreds of degrees. During the roasting process, the flavour compounds we have come to know as “chocolate” are released. Here’s the science according to Naked Chocolate:
In roasting – “The freed amino acids combine with sugars and other elements to create compounds that have different taste sensations.” Think fruity, earthy, spicy tones, etc
That is why raw chocolate does not really have a real chocolatey flavour – the roasting is kept to below 45 – 50 degrees celsius, ensuring that the antioxidants are alive and kicking at full throttle as opposed to the only 20% still-functioning anti-oxidant level in cooked chocolate.
After sampling the raw chocolate from Honest Chocolate, I could finally find a comparison to my own. I noted that the chocolate from Honest Chocolate was light and fruity while my own raw chocolate is slightly heavier and intense. My palate is usually drawn to bitter, salty and dry flavour experiences so when I make chocolate, I work in a lot of the cacao.
So, there you go….some background about raw chocolate. In the next post, I will assault you with many pictures of my own retailed chocolate.