We live in an interesting community: a heady and often strange mix of folks from all over the world with all sorts of appetites. There's a undulating collection of raw foodists among them who have an enormous appetite for fresh organic fruits, and cacao. They are among our best clients: both at the farmers' market, and for our fruit trees and "permaculture preferred plants".
So we often get asked for raw chocolate bars. And up to recently we've said no.
But now we can say yes, sort of.
Raw chocolate is an interesting concept. I think to really define it one would have to define chocolate. From a quick glance at the top hits of online dictionaries, chocolate is the result of roasted and ground cacao beans. So, not raw then.
From a deeper look at what constitutes raw it seems that food is 'live', minimally prepared and remains below 120 degrees max in any preparation.
Fermented food is a somewhat grey area. But typically rejected as temps can rise and enzymes can be destroyed.
So. A purely raw cacao bar would be one made with unfermented beans, milled, conched and tempered at temperatures below 114F. With a sweetener that was likewise prepared.
Unfortunately for people who like chocolate, this bar would be unrecognizable. The fermentation and roasting really create the flavors we associate with 'chocolate'. Truly raw bars tend to be acidic, astringent, and not really appetizing. Or rather, not really like chocolate. Taste after all is subjective.
Life is most often a compromise, and few purists really exist.
We have developed a bar that we think is a good compromise and judging by it selling out at the market yesterday, it seems others think so too.
The bars are 75% cacao, 60% of which is raw, 40% is roasted. This maintains the overall flavour of our chocolate while introducing the particular raw flavour and mouthfeel. The chocolate is milled, conched and tempered, at the most at 109F. This took some doing and experimentation and very careful scrutiny and temperature taking. But we've got it now!
I'm working on inclusion bars which will taste wonderful, and also appeal to folks who want to eat the healthiest and most nutritionally supportive ingredients. We have a 'Tryp' bar which has raw dried organic durian and macuna, and a 'Monkey' bar with raw dried banana, raw cacao nibs and trametes versicolor mushroom. More to come, I'm consulting with a raw nutritionist to make sure we are producing the very best chocolate we can.
Tastes pretty darn good too. Love chocolate.