ORGANIC CACAO PASTE, Arriba Criollo, Artisan
Country of Origin: Ecuador
Better than FairTrade: Root Capital seeks to improve the lives of rural farmers by connecting them with the formal economy. Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, or grains from thousands of smallholder farmers. They connect members to markets and help improve their farming practices.
With growth, these businesses become engines of impact that can raise incomes and create jobs, empower women and young people, sustain peace, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.
Production: 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 softens the bitter taste and helps to unlock the full aroma of the cacao bean. This fermentation process is usually followed by roasting, yet our Artisan cacao beans remain unroasted - just sun-dried, keeping them low temperature processed from start to finish. When you taste an unroasted cacao bean or any other of our low temperature processed 100% Arriba Criollo cacao products (beans, paste, butter, and powder), you will notice a characteristic fermented aroma and flavor, assuring you the presence of optimal levels of heat-sensitive healthful nutrients. The raw bean is then gently crushed and its thin skin removed so 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%) and suspended fine cocoa particles. Raw cacao paste is subsequently pressed until it separates into cacao butter and a cacao “cake” which is then slowly ground to produce cacao powder.
Qualities: Cacao paste tastes the most like a chocolate bar (without the sugar) compared to all other cacao products. 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, and tryptophan. The list of cacao’s acclaimed health benefits is lengthy and includes anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties, calming hormones, restoration of feelings of well-being, increased energy, fighting chronic fatigue, anti-aging, and appetite-suppressing properties, improved kidney and cognitive functions, skin and tooth protection, and more. No surprise the Incas considered cacao to the “drink of the gods” which gave rise to the scientific name of the cacao tree Theobroma cacao, theo, meaning god, and broma meaning drink. Cacao has been cultivated in Ecuador since the 17th century and was the main product of export up until the 1920s.
The Criollo variety is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and flavor profile of all cacao varieties. Some claim that “what the fine arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer criollo bean is to chocolate”.
Common Use: Cacao paste often comes molded into blocks or pieces and is also known as unsweetened baking chocolate or bitter chocolate. It can be eaten as is, or it can easily be transformed into dipping chocolate or chocolate treats. Experiment with adding different natural sweeteners (we offer a coconut sugar sweetened couverture bar), seeds, nut butters, spices and extracts, or a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to create amazing raw or baked desserts.
Storage: Best kept at room temperatures around 20C (68F), away from direct sunlight, protected from moisture, and tightly sealed.
Safety: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. 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.