This blog wasn’t originally supposed to be about chocolate, but then I started eating a chocolate bar…and the rest is history, literally. I realized, mid-candy, that I don’t know much about chocolate, its origin and the process of turning a tiny cacao seed into this delicious snack in my hand. “Why is chocolate so amazing?!” I found myself saying out loud, alone, in my living room, watching garbage television. I ran out of chocolate, so I turned to Google and began digging. Of course chocolate is fermented. It all makes sense now!
The chocolate tree is native to Latin America and was often referred to as “the food of the Gods.” The cacao pods are pollenated by a small fly, called a midge. Each pod contains anywhere from 30-40 bitter-tasting beans surrounded by a sweet and sticky pulp. In order to achieve the chocolate flavor we all love and crave, the beans must be fermented, dried and then roasted. After the pods are harvested, the pods are split open. The beans are piled in a heap and covered. The sticky pulp becomes a fermented broth, which is where the beans absorb flavor from. Chocolate acquires its color and flavor during this fermentation process. The dried beans are then shipped to chocolate manufactures.
And wouldn’t you know, Sonoma County happens to have some of the best chocolatiers in the North Bay. Talk about spoiled! Check out some of my favorite local spots:
Visit Wine Country Chocolates for world class chocolate truffles and other confections.
Visit Sonoma Chocolatiers, with over 55 truffles, nearly 30 silky-smooth caramels, and 13 chocolate bars and Nibbles.
Check out Gandolf’s Fine Chocolates at The Saturday morning Farmers Market at the Santa Rosa Veterans Hall year round.