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Terroir and Chocolate-Just a Bunch of Bananas?

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I taste a lot of chocolate that comes my way. I also used to do tastings regularly several times a month for clients or tourists who came in to our shop when we lived in Ecuador. We regularly tasted the same chocolates, so it´s easy to tell if the same products really taste the same [...]

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Chocolate Percentages-What Do They Mean?

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You've probably heard a lot about dark chocolate, that you should eat chocolate that is 70% or higher in cocoa content. There are health benefits from dark chocolate and you want to get them. A lot of information and buzzwords are tossed around on food labels too: "raw," "gluten free," "vegan." Do any of these [...]

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​5 Questions for Your Chocolate Maker

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The chocolate bar section of your local grocery, special store, or retail shop is already a crowded space, and growing increasingly more so. There are new bean-to-bar brands popping up daily, new products incorporating chocolate coming out all the time, and new packaging and product selection makes distinguishing quality chocolate more and more difficult. Fierce competition for shelf space means you [...]

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How Do You Define Raw Chocolate?

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I get lots of requests for raw cocoa beans or products, see lots of raw claims, and continue to wonder what the *&@* raw is…you probably do too. I’ve read that foods remain raw if the food has not been heated over 118°F, or 114°F. Supposedly this protects any naturally occurring enzymes as well as [...]

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How Cocoa Beans Are Made Into Chocolate

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The journey the cacao bean makes, from the tree all the way to the chocolate bar on the store shelf, is a long one. But you'll have a basic understanding of what happens after you've read this post. To make chocolate, you need cacao beans, sugar, and the right equipment.Cacao beans are first harvest from [...]

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What is Raw Chocolate?

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Raw food products have gained a popular following among consumers and the market for raw products seems to be expanding. But there is very little clarity or definition in what is considered raw, and that goes for chocolate too. Raw really has not been defined clearly, there is no officially recognized industry organization putting a [...]

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What Are Cacao Nibs?

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Most people know what chocolate is-at least they know what chocolate tastes like, that it usually comes in a bar, and is considered a sweet treat in most cases. Chocolate is usually consumed by itself or in a dessert combined with ingredients to make cakes, cookies, brownies, or even some fruit desserts. Chocolate is also [...]

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How to Hold a Chocolate Tasting Party

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After spending seven years in Ecuador making chocolate, exporting chocolate, teaching about chocolate, leading chocolate tours to cocoa plantations and factories for consumers and industry professionals, I want to share some of that knowledge with you.  Living in Ecuador was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, but I was happy to [...]

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Where do Cacao Trees Grow?

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Where do cacao trees grow? Cacao, also known as Theobroma Cacao, is a tropical plant. The growing area for cacao ranges from approximately 10° north to 10° south of the Equator. Most cacao is grown in Africa but cacao is now also cultivated in a tropical belt worldwide. The Ivory Coast and Ghana are the [...]

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Cacao and San Marzano Tomatoes

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Say you have a fine flavor, single origin cacao which is as highly recognized as San Marzano tomatoes. The Chuao bean from Venezuela immediately comes to mind.San Marzano tomatoes have a protected denomination or origin (Denominazione Origine Protetta in Italian) - cacao does not. Stringent crtieria are enforced by the government to maintain the integrity [...]

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