Botanical Name: theobroma cacao (pronounce kah-kow) - cultivar Criollo
Organic Matters is proud to be both the direct importer and sole distribution source for this outstanding, certified Fair Trade, organic, and 100% Arriba Criollo cacao from a farming cooperative supporting the livelihood of over 3000 small and sustainable cocoa growers.
The Incas considered cacao the “drink of gods” which gave rise to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink). Cocoa has been cultivated in Ecuador since the 17th century and and was the main product of export up to the 1920s when diseases struck, destroying crops everywhere. The Criollo variety of cacao beans is sourced from the native-born heirloom species thriving in the high-elevation volcanic soils of the Arriba Nacional forests of Ecuador. This ancient strain has been recovered thanks to the hard work and wisdom of many local farmers and the support of the Ecuadorian government.
Qualities: The Criollo variety is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and flavor profile. Some claim that ”what the fine Arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer Criollo bean is to chocolate”.
After the ripe pod has been cut from the tree, it is opened, the rind discarded, and the pulp and seeds laid out for several days. During this time the pulp liquefies or “sweats” and fermentation starts which helps to unlock the full aroma of the cacao bean and softens its bitter taste. This fermentation process is usually followed by roasting yet our cacao beans remain unroasted - just sun-dried. For further processing, the raw bean is gently crushed and its thin skin removed such that only pieces or “nibs” remain. Cacao nibs are then slowly ground into a thick brown liquid called cacao paste (aka cacao mass or liquor) which is made up of cocoa butter (55-60%) with fine, suspended cocoa particles. This cacao paste is subsequently pressed until it separates into cacao butter and a cacao “cake” which is then ground to produce cacao powder.
Cacao is believed to contain high amounts of antioxidants such as Flavonoids and many other nutrients and minerals like Stearic and Oleic fatty acid, Anandamide (the bliss chemical), Theobromine, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Sulfur, PEA, Tryptophan, etc. The list of acclaimed health benefits goes on and on, including anti-inflammatory and heart protective properties, calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being, increase energy and fight chronic fatigue, anti-aging and appetite suppressant properties, reduce insulin resistance and sensitivity, improve kidney and stimulate bowel function, protect the skin and prevent tooth decay, improve cognitive function, as an aphrodisiac, and many more…
Common use: cacao paste often comes moulded into blocks or pieces and is also known as unsweetened baking or bitter chocolate. It can be eaten as is if you crave a bit of smooth bitterness or you can easily be transformed it into a chocolate treat by simply adding some cacao butter (and/or coconut oil) and a sweetener.
Fruity Superfood Chocolate Recipe: Place 100g of cacao paste and 50g of cacao butter in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl suspended in another bowl of hot water) and allow to melt. Mix in about 1/8 cup honey or other sweetener to taste, gently stir in 1Tbsp of Mesquite powder and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Pour into moulds and sprinkle with some goji berries. Let it all cool and enjoy!
Storage: best kept at room temperatures around 20C (68F), away from direct sunlight, protected from moisture, and tightly sealed.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This product has been packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and other potential allergens.