One of the reasons I love to live here in India is the access to good quality Cacao.
While we are here we use the pure cacao to make hot chocolate with coconut milk, we make cacao blocks and make mini flower orange or peppermint infused chocolates.
We source the Cacao in a block and it comes from Mysore, Karnatika - we stock up at the beginning of each season to ensure we have good quality throughout our stay for both personal and professional use.
In addition I always ensure that I have stock of organic cacao powder in my pantry to add to desserts or smoothies...
I almost always go for 85% + if I am buying a ready made bar and like to always buy good quality when it comes to chocolate - This way you not only find yourself less likely to over indulge as it has a rather heavy, bitter profile (that most chocolate lovers at first are averse to but grow to appriciate) but you are also recieving much more of the benefits that this bean has to offer the higher density of cacao is in the final product.
I like to think of the taste like an aged wine, or a matured cheese in its characteristics and its something that after a while of consuming you grow to appriciate the experience itself and what it has to offer. This isnt now only from flavour and texture but the higher % of cacao you consume the more beneficial and medicinal properties you are exposing yourself and its here that your experience shifts from indulging in your sense of taste for the sake of pleasure to it almost becoming a ceremonial practice.
THE MANY FORMS OF CACAO
* The beans are the unprocessed and natural state of cacao. It comes directly from the cacao pods of the trees
* This is the ground leftover solids and vary in fat content depending on the grade of the powder
* After the process of crushing and melting on a low heat the cacao, both solid and liquid parts of the bean, results in the cacao paste
* This result is when the fat is extracted from the bean. The cacao butter is white in colour and is used for its firmness as it remains a solid state at room temprature
* The nibs are peeled and gently crushed beans that are lightly fermented - basially they are the beans but without the shells
BENEFITS OF CACAO
* Cacao is the number one source of magnesium - this being one of the more popular deficiencies so consuming high grade cacao can aid as a suppliment for these cases.
Magnesium is important for balancing the chemicals of the brain and is associated with strong bones.
Contians Omega 6 Fatty acids
* The good essential fatty acids
* The fibre helps in aiding the digestive process and is known to maintain healthy weight control
* A mineral that is associated with beauty - it has antibacterial effects and has properties that helps protect your cells from damage
* Provides a relief from PMS symtoms - no wonder us ladies crave chocolate when we are expecting our monthly times
* A fatty acid that is named for its associatin with "Bliss" or "delight"
* An organic compound that acts as a central nervous system stimulent for hightened focus and attention
Sets off endorphins
* Either as pain relief or giving you an energy rush similar to when you excersise
* Zinc is an essential mineral and helps support and maintain a healthy immune system
* Helping the body to maintain a healthy water balance, aids motabolism and keeps muscles strong
Research has shown that cacao has many benefits such as cardiovascular health; in lowering blood sugar; relieving the symtons of PMS; it is known to reduce the effects of aging; and can encourage the sense of happiness and overall wellbeing but it is important to note that Raw cacao has very powerful effects on our systems and should be consumed not in excess.
Many of my recipes include cacao as a fundamental ingredient, like my cacao truffles and many of the cashew cheesecakes in my blog.
No matter what I make, as and where I can, I like to use good quality or organic ingredients and try to source my cacao from ethical and conscious suppliers...