Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Culinary Adventures--Cacao

This country has a lot to offer in the culinary arena. There is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices. 

Broccoli about $0.50 a head, potatoes $0.25 a pound, avocados $0.12 each, tomatoes $0.25 a pound, cabbage as big as your head for $0.35, bell peppers at $0.25 ea.). 
Due to lack of refrigeration, most people are accustomed to making things from scratch--time consuming but healthier. I try my best to use fresh ingredients because the packaged stuff is expensive and not as good.  But, as a normal American, I get the craving for good desserts and buy a lot of my baking ingredients in the Capital where you can find import products and finer local products (like brown sugar, corn syrup, chocolate chips, baking chocolate, flavoring extracts, nuts). 

But this year, I decided to make a chocolate pudding cake for Kemmel's birthday. Unfortunately it requires cocoa powder. I looked everywhere and could not get my hands on it, so I decided to venture out into the raw cacao world. Guatemala is a major producer of cacao and prepared chocolate for hot drinks, but does not produce unsweetend baking chocolate or cocoa powder. 

Fresh cacao with the seeds still in the pulp

So I bought some raw cacao beans $2.50/lb, toasted them on the stove top till they quit popping, cooled them, peeled the shells off and ground them in my coffee grinder. I soon learned that they gunk up your grinder if not very cold. So I dumped the whole bowl of beans (nibs) and chunks coarse meal into the freezer for an hour and re-ground them. I ended up with a medium-fine powder, like ground coffee and used that in my recipe (measure for measure). 

Dried raw cacao toasting.

Toasted peeled cacao (nibs)

Papershells after peeling

Ground cacao

The chocolate pudding cake recipe turned out great (according to Kemmel and Sheri--I don't like chocolate!) and was not crunchy or gritty.  Apparently this type of product is pretty high dollar in the States, so I was proud.  The nibs as they are called can also be coarsely broken up and used as chocolate chips if you like the bitter flavor or used in other recipes.  I think I will be packaging some of my product for Christmas presents this year!  Especially since coffee prices are on the way up--that's a post for another time.


Sheri said...

Lisa, there are no words to describe how great this was! It was so moist! As I said, it barely made it INTO the house. Thank you! :)

Kemmel and Lisa Dunham said...