Haitian Hot Cocoa
Dady Chery

hot-chocolate

By Dady Chery

Haiti Chery

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

CacaoFlower

Manufacture of chocolate

We have the Aztecs and Mayans to thank for chocolate manufacture, which was developed over several millenia. The consumption of processed cocoa probably began around 3,100 years ago as a ceremonial Aztek drink from the fermented seed pulp.

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

The first step in chocolate manufacture is to remove the pulp-covered beans of the cacao tree manually from their pods and leave them to ferment in baskets for about a week. After this, the beans are spread out to dry. Once completely dried, the 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 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.

This opened pod shows cacao beans covered with their sweet tasting pulp.

Chocolate’s dark side

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 a cup of cocoa is a typical evening meal. Godly fare, indeed.

Cacao beans spread out to dry.

Recipe

1/2 Cup Haitian cocoa stick, grated; or fair-trade pure cocoa powder for baking
1 Cup of dairy milk, almond milk, or soy milk
1 Can of evaporated milk or coconut 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
Sugar

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 the vanilla, nutmeg, and lime rind. Add 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 © 2012-2017 by Dady Chery. All Rights Reserved

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