Haitian Hot Cocoa
Dady Chery


By Dady Chery

Haiti Chery

The scientific name for cocoa, Theobroma cacao means “food of the gods,” and deservedly so.


Manufacture of chocolate

We have the Aztecs and Mayans to thank for the elaborate process of chocolate manufacture.

The beans of the cacao tree, along with some pulp, are initially removed manually from a pod. The pulp-covered beans are left to ferment in baskets for about a week, after which they are spread out to dry.

The pods appear only on the main stem on the cacao tree, which is initially covered with orchid-like flowers. The pods shown are ripe and ready to harvest.

The completely dried beans are roasted, shelled, and their core is ground into a paste. On pressing, this paste separates into cocoa butter and a press cake. Depending on the quality of chocolate to be made, the press cake is mixed with milk, sugar, and defined amounts of cocoa butter or another vegetable fat: cocoa butter for the more expensive chocolates. The mixture is heated and kneaded for hours to days, to smooth it out and remove unwanted volatiles, before it is cooled and molded.

The procedure for chocolate manufacture was developed over several millenia, and the consumption of cocoa is thought to have begun about 3,100 years ago as a ceremonial Aztek drink from the fermented seed pulp.

An opened  pod showing the pulp-covered cacao beans. The pulp tastes sweet.

The dark side of chocolate

This wonderful discovery from the New World by the Spanish during the 16th century was quickly developed into a major product of the slave trade. It is still associated with child labor in the Ivory Coast, which is the world’s top chocolate producer.

Godly fare

Hot cocoa would definitely not have been a drink allowed to slaves; so one could say that it is as much a celebration of freedom as soup joumou. In Haiti, where lunch is the day’s major meal, a freshly baked roll with cup of cocoa is a typical evening meal. Godly fare, indeed.

Cacao beans spread out to dry.


1/2 cup Haitian cocoa stick (grated) or fair-trade pure cocoa powder (for baking)
1 cup of milk, almond milk, or soy milk
1 can of evaporated milk
2 cups water
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Anise star
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 Lime’s rind
1/4 Nutmeg’s surface gratings

To boiling water, add the cocoa and stir until it completely melts. Add the cinnamon stick and anise star, and boil for another 5 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a boil, taking care not to let the mixture overflow. Turn off the flame. Add vanilla, nutmeg, lime rind, and sugar to taste. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Strain. Serves about 4.

Source: Haiti Chery | Photos three, four, and five from: Cocoa plantations – Ghana Off The Beaten Path, By Grets

Copyright © 2012-2015 by Dady Chery. All Rights Reserved

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