Monday, October 17, 2011

Culinary IQ: Monday, October 17, 2011; Source of Chocolate

5 Days of Chocolate! Is It Enough?
Where Chocolate Comes From
Cacao Around the Globe 

Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean (also known as a cocoa bean) which grows in pod-like fruits on tropical cacao trees.
Ground up and roasted, cacao beans are the all-natural raw material for the chocolate we love. While there are 5 regions in which chocolate is grown in the world most of the chocolate we eat has its roots in Africa, which generates about 70% of the world’s cacao beans.
Kinds of Trees: Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario

There are three main kinds of cacao trees grown throughout the world, each with their own flavor profiles and growth characteristics. There also are hundreds and hundreds of different hybrids.
  1. Forastero: Forastero, the main bulk bean, accounts for about 90 percent of all beans. It has a clean chocolate flavor with low acidity and is prized for its disease resistance and consistent performance.  While Forastero beans do not have fruity or aromatic flavors found in other beans, the bean’s dependability makes it a favorite for large chocolate producers.
  2. Criollo: Treasured for its complex, fruity flavor, Criollo is a flavor bean grown mainly in Latin America. Its susceptibility to disease and low productivity, however, means many cacao farmers have traded its rich flavor for hardier plants.
  3. Trinitario: A fusion of the two strains, Trinitario is believed to combine the best of both- good flavor and hardiness. Also considered a flavor bean, it gets its name from the island of Trinidad where it was first grown. Its flavor notes range from spicy to earthy to fruity to highly acidic.
Factors Affecting Taste: The Origins of Flavor
Like wine, chocolate reflects the distinct flavors of its region. The kind of cacao beans grown, climate conditions, and how the beans are dried and fermented vary from country to country. All these factors play an important role in defining a bean’s flavor characteristics.

What’s the end result? A range of flavors to explore. Consider: Beans from Trinidad have a cinnamon spiciness while those from Ecuador have a floral quality. Beans from Jamaica even hint of pineapple. Eating chocolate can be a never-ending flavor adventure.

Flavors Across the Globe: Tasting Notes by Region
Following is a list of unique flavor notes by region. The list was principally developed by the respected artisanal chocolate company, Scharffen Berger:

Madagascar:  Bright acidity. Light citrus flavors reminiscent of tangerines.
Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire: Deep, classic cocoa flavors.  Lends balance to more complex beans.
São Tomé: Bold, upfront chocolate notes with underlying roasted coffee tones.

Mexico and Central America:
Mexico: Bright acidity
Costa Rica: Fruity with a balanced cocoa flavor.
Panama: Classic cocoa flavor highlighted by subtle fruit and roasted nut flavors.

South America:
Colombia:  Deep cocoa flavor with moderate fruitiness. Slightly bitter.
Ecuador:  Known best for the Arriba bean. Well-balanced floral (jasmine) and fruit notes. Also has herbal tones.
Brazil:  Bright acidity.  Well-balanced cocoa flavors, often with subtle fruity notes.
Venezuela: Complex fruit flavors.  Evokes flavors of ripe red plums and dark cherries. Very well-balanced.

The Caribbean:
Dominican Republic (also identified on bars as Santo Domingo):  Deep earthy flavor. Fragrant tobacco notes. Some beans have delicate red wine and spice notes.
Trinidad and Tobago: Complex fruitiness with appealing spiciness such as cinnamon.  Very well-balanced.
Jamaica:  Bright and fruity, with appealing aromas. Complex and well-balanced.  Often recalls subtle flavors of pineapples.

Indonesia (also identified on bars as Java):  Well-balanced. Appealing acidity balanced with clean cocoa flavors.

Adapted from:

Tomorrow: How do we get the smooth, rich, creamy chocolate we know form the hard rough cocoa pod?

No comments:

Post a Comment