Did I know somewhere in the back of my mind that chocolate originally comes from cocoa which originally comes from cacao which must somehow come from a plant? Sure. But until a recent chocolate tour of Rancho Raices, a family farm in Costa Rica, I didn’t entirely understand how chocolate can actually be made like it originally was: pure, healthy (full of antioxidants and healthy fats), by hand, from a fruit.
Tired of buying Hershey’s and want to make it yourself? Step 1: Grow cacao fruit.
Step 3: Dry the seeds in a tropical climate. (You might have to move to one first.)
Step 4: Roast the seeds perfectly. Is this like roasting coffee beans? I have no idea. I should have asked more questions from the good folks at Rancho Raices. Maybe I better go back for a refresher course…
Step 5: Now we have cocoa beans. Crush them just enough to remove the shells. Do not crush them to smithereens like my super-strong husband did while our hosts were too polite to yell “Stop! You are killing the chocolate!”
Step 6: Sift the shells from the beans by gently shaking them in an ancient manner. It helps if you are a grandmother doing this with an adorable six-year-old granddaughter by your side.
Step 7: Hand grind the beans, which was by far the most interesting step of the process to my boys, who are all about machinery and competition. If you’re wondering if we had to bust out the timer for everybody’s turn at this grueling job, the answer is yes.
Step 8: Re-grind the cocoa until it becomes a paste, thick with cocoa butter.
Step 9: If you are trying to please American children instead of eating healthy, antioxidant rich dark chocolate, add powdered milk and sugar.
Step 10: Chocolate for everyone!