An intense, rich, robust taste of our darkest chocolate!
The artisan chocolate industry is still very much in its infancy. It’s on a parallel path to where the wine industry was in the early 1960s with vintages, estate-produced blends and even single origin varietals. While I never thought anything could me more complex than growing and harvesting grapes, crushing and fermenting the must, the aging process, and finally bottling the wine, I’ve learned that the chocolate-making process is very much like that of wine… only on steroids—more temperamental, more multifaceted, and even more rewarding. It is now a known fact that dark chocolate, high in cacao mass, has many of the same health benefits that have been recently discovered in red wines.
The complexities of turning rustic cacao beans into fine chocolate are many. Consider that cacao crops are grown on plantations by over 3.5 million independent subsistence farmers in no fewer than 50 exotic countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Ecuador and Columbia… distances of over 5,000-10,000 miles from where the beans are grown to where they are processed. The beans have to be of certain specie and harvested at the perfect moment of ripeness. The farmers must also carefully ferment and dry the beans before shipping them to artisan chocolate makers and chocolatiers in the United States (and other points around the world) for further processing.
Recently, Joan and I had the experience of following the process of making Q-91, from the plantantation in South America to the processing facility in the Untied States where we carefully observed the production of turning the once cacao beans into a fine grand crux chocolate.
The treasure of beans were imported to the United States from small, subsistence farms near one of the many tributaries of the Amazon. Initially transported by burros to all-terrain vehicles, they finally made it to airplanes, then get flown to California. It was here that the beans were slowly roasted and winnowed, a process of removing the outer shell and extracting the inner bean, leaving the rich, aromatic and flavorful cacao mass of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter.
The unfinished mass was converted into Q-91 chocolate with only the addition of a small measure of Hawaiian cane sugar, a touch of vanilla and some additional cocoa butter, then conched for over 72 hours. The result was our highest percentage of cacao mass chocolate. I think you will agree that it is one of the finest chocolates ever to be tasted.
This South American treasure, made from the species of beans that Montezuma himself might have enjoyed, is rich in the most full-bodied, “big chocolate” intensity available. The chocolate has light undertones of coffee, red fruit, touches of tropical forest musk, with traces of banana and cashew flavors.
Like wine, chocolate goes through its own manner of “bottle shock” and must be allowed to relax to fully develop. At Choclatique, we quality check and, of course, the taste the texture of our chocolate on the day of production, four days after production when the chocolate has had a chance to fully develop its Beta 5 crystalline structure, and again twenty days post-production when the chocolate has fully matured before it is sold.