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Snorting Cacao

I thought you might be interested in reading this article on snorting cacao:

Let me be perfectly clear: I AM NOT RECOMMENDING IT!

You can get a plethora of psychoactive benefits from eating dark chocolate in the 70-100% range. You can also use raw cacao in your smoothies, add it to coffee, make hot chocolate, bake with 100% cocoa, or creatively throw it in anything else that gets it in your system without compromising your heath.


Beans needed for chocolate research

Dr Xiaonan Lu has been chosen by IUFoST for the “Young Scientist Award 2016”

The University of British Columbia needs 50 beans from as many origins as possible. Please send some.

Dr Lu, University of British Columbia, is conducting a study about the cacao beans profile to see if he can correlate their origin to one or several of the parameters he is measuring and maybe develop an automatic recognition of the origin of any bean or other automatic recognition he would find.

He would like to get as many origins as possible. Can you send him some of your beans and ask your friends / suppliers / contacts to do so?
He needs 50-100 beans of each type to conduct the experiments. The more types (and locations), the better. He will be happy to share the results with you after.

Please email us to let us know what you can do and send the beans to “Pierre Gruget, 5971 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC, V7W2S1, CANADA”

And please give all the information you have on the beans (country, province / state / town, village, farm, elevation, and whenever you know: age of the tree, when it was picked from the tree, any comment on the growing condition (use that pesticide 3 years ago…surrounding (vegetation such as coffee trees, or any significant activity (wood oven at 20m, lake… at 50m, sulfuric acid emitted 5 km away …), variety if you know it, orientation (NW or SW) of the hill if any, soil if you know it, any analysis you may have, even old…
Only the country is mandatory today but more information would be great. If providing several samples don’t forget to identify them Lot 1 Lot 2…

All information will be kept anonymous.
If needed, we will be happy to reimburse you the costs.
Enjoying that research, sincerely yours.

Pierre Gruget

UBC Chocolate (Non Profit Group supporting Research on Chocolate at University of BC)

Research conducted by Dr. Xiaonan LU, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Food Safety Engineering | Food Nutrition and Health Program
The University of British Columbia
Office 604 822 2551 | Fax 604 822 5143
Publication in Food and Chemistry journal
Volume 202, 1 July 2016, Pages 254–261

Just for fun: Two short videos on World Chocolate Master Vincent Vallée

You have to click on the link above the video to see the second one.ée_Harrods_EN_02_02_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_266741bbe7-6c47765a5b-76718801

Excellent article on dwindling chocolate supply from Bloomberg News

I thought all you chocophiles might find this article interesting:

Chocolate Naive’s Dark Chocolate Coated Blueberries, Strawberries, and Caramelized Hazelnuts

Chocolate Naive’s new trio of freeze dried blueberries, strawberries, and caramelized hazelnuts in chocolate is a unique addition to the plethora of products vying for your chocolate fund.

Eating even one of the tiny blueberries is like being transported into a fairy tale. Each mini orb an amazing combination of ethereally crunchy, freeze dried blueberries. The texture somehow melts on the tongue, along with 41% Madagascan chocolate, while a little dusting of cocoa provides the perfect hint of intensity. Out of curiosity, I bit into one to discover a shocking burst of magenta, which just added a visual thrill to the whole experience.

The strawberries are Brobdingnagian in comparison to their Lilliputian brethren. With a thicker shell of dark chocolate and a huge berry inside, these confections offer up the essence of strawberry with a super rich dark chocolate. (Can this really be 41% cacao?) These are as different from a fresh strawberry dipped in chocolate as chalk and cheese. I am not a fan of the fresh ones, as they always seem like a mess: fruit juice mingling with broken pieces of chocolate and none of it cohering. Here, you have a seamless marriage of textures, flavors, and the gustatory excitement of something new.

Their chocolate covered caramelized hazelnuts are just divine. Unlike the couverture on the fruits, which tastes like dark chocolate to me, this is a dark milk finished with confectioner’s sugar. The nuts are perfectly roasted and lightly caramelized. Crunchy, creamy textures along with a just sweet enough chocolate shell deliver a supremely satisfying, decadent treat.

One thing that takes all three of these up a notch is the addition of sea salt. It’s the tiniest bit, but it catalyzes the fruit, nuts, chocolate, and sugar into something really remarkable.

David Bacco Chocolatier

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

As Voltaire said, “The best is the enemy of the good.” I usually agree; however, there are times when perfection alights. As fleeting as they are, their blissfulness reminds us of what it is to be human. The perfect kiss, most beautiful sunset, or heartfelt smile take us into realms of joy and awe that raise the quotidian to the extraordinary. Like many of you, I find chocolate a fairly reliable catalyst for gustatory nirvana. My latest fix is David Bacco’s Noisette Madagascar. It is a truly perfect 64% Trinitario/Criollo dark chocolate with roasted hazelnuts. The temper is incredible, the shine like a mirror, and the juxtaposition of insanely crunchy nuts against a backdrop of fruity chocolate, with mesmerizing tones of fig and wild berries, is not to be missed. In addition, the bar’s construction: a three ounce square divided into a mosaic of trapezoidal shapes of varying sizes, makes it visually interesting and wonderful for those times when you want a smaller or larger piece. In this case, god is in the details.

David’s background as a pastry chef and chocolatier of almost two decades is no surprise, nor is his award in 2011 for “TOP ARTISAN CHOCOLATIER” title at the LA International Chocolate Salon show and competition. One bite of that dark hazelnut bar and you will be convinced, too.

Another bar I found swoon-worthy was his Olive Oil and Sea Salt in 74% bittersweet chocolate. Here, organic Grand Cru Hacienda chocolate from the Dominican Republic tangoes with more than a hint of fleur de sel. In my experience, most chocolates with salt are on the mild side. While this is still gentle on the palate, it has enough salty presence to really arc the flavor, especially when it has been paired with the rich creaminess of fruity olive oil.

David’s Milk Chocolate 40% bar with smoked sea salt is a dark milk chocolate with a super creamy texture enhanced with fleur de sel cold smoked over Chardonnay oak chips. If you are an aficionado of dark milk bars you will want to add this to your repertoire.

I also had a chance to sample his 68% Fortunato #4. Dubbed the world’s rarest chocolate it is a white pure Nacional bean renowned throughout the chocolate community. It had disappeared in 1916 when struck by disease, and was recently rediscovered in a remote Peruvian area. I have mentioned this chocolate before and its extremely mellow layers of fruit and floral flavors that are complemented by a wonderfully rich, creamy texture.

David’s chocolate ganaches and bonbons are also noteworthy. Each little gem is unique and intensely flavored. I was completely enamored with his marzipan and apricot layered square enrobed in dark chocolate, the caramelized almonds and cinnamon in milk, Caribbean spices in bitter ganache, the exquisitely flavored lime, and the red dome of passionfruit infused ganache. (I always wonder why more chocolatiers don’t offer passionfruit chocolates, as the combination is simply celestial.)

These bonbons are packaged in a serene looking black cardboard box with a bright spring green silk ribbon. The chocolate bars come in minimalist white boxes that open neatly on the side and reveal a re-closable cello sleeve which keeps everything tidy.


Did you know that Vietnam was producing cacao until the Vietnam war intruded? I didn’t. Currently, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the cacao industry has been expanding at breakneck speed, with trees mainly grown in three areas: Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the south-eastern region, and the Central Highlands.

For the past five years André Stengel, Vietcacao’s founder, has been growing beans in the Mekong Delta and sending them to France to be used by chocolatiers and chefs. Stengel’s work history, as head of a high school and VP of the French Confectioners & Chocolatiers Association, has clearly equipped him with the necessary diplomatic, management, and culinary skills for the job.

Vietcacao is fully invested in an ethical and sustainable development program. They have also been training pupils from the Bến Tre School for the Handicapped to learn the various aspects of the cacao industry.

I was lucky enough to sample four bars, and a cache of burgundy-mahogany colored pods which I immediately ground up into a supremely aromatic coarse powder to use on various savory dishes like: deviled eggs, chili, pilafs, Molé, vinaigrettes, quick sautés of vegetables and chicken with smoked paprika, garlic, dijon mustard and olive oil. I also sprinkled this magic powder on an open-faced sandwich of almond butter, home-made nectarine chutney, and thinly sliced avocado. In sweets, I sprinkled it over ice cream with a splash of Kahlúa, added it to tempered chocolate for textural interest, mixed it into cookies, and dusted it over fruit salad. The possibilities are endless.

All four bars I tried are quite different and worthy of attention.

70% Mint has an assertive but not overwhelming herbal presence, exactly the balance I seek in this combination. Frankly, I could eat the whole 100 gram bar as it lulled me into a minty stupor. No exaggeration, as mint is known for both its rejuvenating and relaxing qualities.

Their 70% bar with tiny bits of ground, roasted nibs is very different from most of the nib studded chocolates I have tried. Here, the crunch and intensity of actual cacao is more of a footnote than an in-your-face experience.

The 40% milk is a very comforting bar whose dairy notes are a bit more acidic than milk chocolate produced in the US or UK. It is that delicate edge that takes it above your normal milk chocolate. A great choice for those looking for a higher cacao content milk.

70% dark, the base for their mint and nib bars, is rapturous by itself. I could never call this a plain bar, though it is unadulterated, since there are so many flavors and textures: plum, raisin, hints of soil, light citrus notes, woodsy undertones, a lovely floral scent, and a lingering clean, fresh, slightly dry long finish, all in a perfectly creamy texture. Not only is this well-tempered bar great as-is, it would also be wonderful for tempering and chocolate desserts. Right now, I am thinking of mixing shards of it with some Greek halvah (just sesame seeds and honey, from into dark chocolate organic ice cream.

If you are hankering for more news from Vietcacao, take a look at their beautiful and informative blog. Just google: “Vietcacao blog” and have google translate it for you.