Have you ever smelled a piece of unrefined cocoa butter and smelled the deliciousness of chocolate? Well the reason that it smells like chocolate is because they both come from the cacao bean.
When I visited the Dominican Republic, I had an opportunity to go on a tour to a local coffee and chocolate farm. It is owned by a lovely husband and wife team who have been doing this for over twenty years. After welcoming us into their home, the husband showed us what a ripe cacao pod looks like. It was yellow green in color and reminded me of a pumpkin. The images below show the cacao bean unopened and then opened.
Once opened it revealed the individual beans arranged somewhat like kernels on a cob of corn. Each individual bean can be torn off. The bean is coated with a white fruit substance which is actually edible. It had a sweet tart taste with the texture like peach meat around the pit.
The beans are placed on a cement deck and allowed to dry in the sun. Once they are dried they are brought into the shed to be roasted. After they have been roasted they are ground into chocolate! The gracious hosts gave us hot chocolate to sample. It was not the traditional hot chocolate that we are accustomed to made with milk. The grounded chocolate was mixed with hot water and sugar.
Unfortunately, our tour didn’t allow us the time to see how the cocoa butter was made but they had some for us to sample and purchase. This was a great experience. Working with cocoa butter for years seeing the cacao up close and personal made my day. Even going on the Hershey Tour in Hershey, PA which showed how chocolate is produced has taken second place to this awesome experience.