dinsdag 20 september 2011

‘Beware the chocolate of Chiapas’.

1648 There’s a famous story about a group of passionate chocoholics who turned nasty when someone tried to get between them and their drinking chocolate. The trouble began when a bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, became irritated with the ladies of his congregation, who insisted that they needed to drink hot chocolate during mass because of their weak stomachs. He banned chocolate from the cathedral and threatened to excommunicate anyone who ate or drank during services. Unwilling to do without their mid-mass fix, the ladies began to attend church in the convents instead of the cathedral. Despite being told about rumours of death threats against him, the bishop stood firm. The cathedral emptied altogether and shortly afterwards the bishop was found dead, having drunk a bowl of chocolate laced with poison. To this day, there’s a Mexican proverb that warns: ‘Beware the chocolate of Chiapas’.

The whole affair became a fearful scandal. Eventually, in 1662, Pope Alexander VII put a final solution to the affair when he declared " Liquidum non frangit jejunum." [Liquids (including chocolate) do not break the fast.] It is likely that this decision was based on the fact that chocolate, like so many other herbs, was considered to have medicinal qualities.

Because of its dark, rich flavours and pungent aroma, chocolate was an effective way to mask the bitter taste of poison. Chocolate is behind a litany of crimes of passion, revenge and mercy killings – even Pope Clement XIV was allegedly murdered with a cup of bitter tasting chocolate. The Duchess of Portsmouth was convinced that King Charles II had been poisoned with a ‘dish’ of chocolate at her house in 1685, although he probably died of kidney failure; a spurned mistress of Napoleon is also reported to have added something suspect to his chocolate beverage, hoping to exact vengeance with a deliciously deadly weapon.

"Tlaquetzalli"Perhaps the most fabulous chocolate drink in history was the one enjoyed by Aztec nobility. There appears to have been two main types. The more sacred version involved a massive head of foam, the precise nature of which has been debated for centuries. The secret is a special kind of cocoa bean called "pataxtle" which are buried in the ground for about half a year until it turns a chalky white. The beans then go through an elaborate process that results in foam, akin to beaten egg whites, which is then spooned cold atop a cup of a warm corn drink called "atole". The beans are impossible to obtain outside of Mexico but they can be replaced with an equal amount of white orchid flowers.
There was also a cold brew called "tlaquetzalli" (precious thing), which was heavily laced with chili peppers. The drink seems to have become extinct and there are no recipes, but some of the early European versions of chocolate appear to be closely related.

"Amor de Montezuma Xocolatl" - Emperor's Love Hot ChocolateThe Aztec emperor Montezuma voraciously consumed a chocolate beverage laced with fragrant flowers, chili peppers, and spices. The only ingredient missing was Tequila!
The heat of Chipotle chili powder works as a kind of stimulant to the palate; its heat gives tone but does not interfere with the taste of chocolate. Its heat excites the mouth, while the coffee-flavored tequila brings the chocolate to life, sure to bring Mexico to your heart side on a cold night!

Makes 4 servings
4 cups whole milk
5 whole star anise
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick (canela)
1 Mexican vanilla bean, split
6-8 oz. Dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 Beso de sal (a kiss of salt)
1/2 teaspoons Chipotle chili powder
2 Piloncillos (Mexican unrefined sugar, comes in firm brown cone shape) grated, or 1 Cup raw brown sugar
2-4 oz. coffee-flavored tequila

In saucepan, combine milk, star anise, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding. Remove vanilla beans and spices, and then scrape seeds from vanilla bean and return to milk mixture. Add chocolate, piloncillo or sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, chipotle chili powder and salt. Whisk constantly until chocolate and sugar are melted. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in tequila. Divide hot chocolate among 4 cups and decorate with star anise.

Movie to watch: "Like Water like Chocolate" written by the Mexican author Laura Esquivel, the title playing on the saying "Como agua para chocolate" a metaphor for love's unstoppable chemistry!

Have you seen the movie, Chocolat? This is like the hot chocolate that was served in the movie.

dinsdag 13 september 2011


Estimates of expenses in establishing a cacao farm in the Visayas

and profits after the fifth year. The size of the farm selected is 16 hectares, the amount of land prescribed by Congress of a single public land entry.
The cost of procuring such a tract of land is as yet undetermined and can
not be reckoned in the following tables. The prices of the crop are estimatedat 48 cents per kilo, which is the current price for the best gradesof cacao in the world's markets. The yield per tree is given as 2 catties,or 1.25 kilos, a fair and conservative estimate for a good tree, with littleor no cultivation. The prices for unskilled labor are 25 per cent in advance of the farm hand in the Visayan islands. No" provision is riiade for management or supervision, as the owner will, it is assumed, act asmanager.
Charges to capital account are given for the second, third, and fourth
year, but no current expenses are given, for other crops are to defray operating expenses until the cacao trees begin to bear. No estimate of residence is given. All accounts are in United States currency.

Expendable the first year.
Capital account:
Clearing of average brush and timber land, at $15 per hectare $340.00
Four carabaos, plows, harrows, cultivators, carts, etc 550.00
Breaking and preparing land, at $5 per hectare 80. 00
Opening main drainage canals, at $6 per hectare 96. 00
Tool house and storeroom 200. 00
Purchase and planting 10,000 abacd stools, at 2 cents each 200.00
Seed purchase, rearing and planting 12,000 cacao, at 3 cents each 360.00
Contingent and incidental 174.00
Total $2,000.00

Rainbow Over the Chocolate Hills, Bohol Island, Bohol, Philippines ...

In the tenth year there should be no increase in taxes or fertilizers, and
a slight increase in yield, sufficient to bring the net profits of the estate to the approximate amount of $5,000. This would amount to a dividend of rather more than $312 per hectare, or its equivalent of about $126 per
These tables further show original capitalization cost of nearly $90 per
acre, and from the ninth year annual operating expenses of rather more
than $60 per acre.
It should be stated, however, that the operating expenses are based upon
a systematic and scientific management of the estate ; while the returns or
income are based upon revenue from trees that are at the disadvantage of
being without culture of any kind, and, while I am of the opinion that the
original cost per acre of the plantation, nor its current operating expenses may be much reduced below the figures given, I feel that there is a reasonable certainty that the crop product may be materially increased beyond the limit of two "catties."
In Camerouns, Dr. Preuss, a close and well-trained observer, gives the
mean annual yield of trees of full-bearing age at 4.4 pounds.
Mr. Rousselot places the yield on the French Congo at the same figure
In the Caroline Islands it reaches 5 pounds and in Surinam, according
to M. Nichols, the average at maturity is 6| pounds. In Mindanao, I
have been told, but do not vouch for the report, of more than ten "catties"
taken in one year from a single tree; and, as there are well-authenticated
instances of record, of single trees having yielded as much as 30 pounds^
I am not prepared to altogether discredit the Mindanao story.
The difference, however, between good returns and enormous profits
arising from cacao growing in the Philippines will be determined by the
amount of knowledge, experience, and energy that the planter is capable
of bringing to bear upon the culture in question.

Source: Cacao Culture in the Philippines  
Published: 1902
Language: English
Origin: gutenberg.org


There are few cultivated crops that make less drain upon soil fertility
than cacao, and few drafts upon the land are so easily and inexpensively
returned. From an examination made of detailed analyses by many authors
and covering many regions, it may be broadly stated that an average
crop of cacao in the most-favored districts is about 9 piculs per hectare,
and that of the three all-important elements of nitrogen, phosphoric acid,
and potash, a total of slightly more than 4.2 kilograms is removed in each
picul of cured seeds harvested. These 37 kilos of plant food that are annually
taken from each hectare may be roughly subdivided as follows:
18 kilos of nitrogen,
10 kilos of potash,
9 kilos of phosphoric acid.
On this basis, after the plantation is in full bearing, we would have to
make good with standard fertilizers each year for each hectare about '220
kilos of nitrate of soda, or, if the plantation was shaded with leguminous
trees, only one-half that amount, or 110 kilos. Of potash salts, say the
sulphate, only one-half that amount, or 55 kilos, if the plantation was unshaded.
If, however, it was shaded, as the leguminous trees are all heavy
feeders of potash, we would have to double the amount and use 110 kilos.
In any case, as fixed nitrogen always represents a cost quite double that
of potash, from an economical standpoint the planter is still the gainer
who supplies potash to the shade trees. There still remains phosphoric
acid, which, in the form of the best superphosphate of lime, would require
55 kilos for unshaded orchards, and about 70 if dap-dap, Pionciana,
or any leguminous tree was grown in the orchard. These three ingredients
may be thoroughly incoriwrated and used as a top dressing and
lightly harrowed in about each tree.
If the commercial nitrates can not be readily obtained, then recourse
must be had to the sparing use of farm manures. Until the bearing age
these may be used freely, but after that with caution and discrimination.
Although I have seen trees here that have been bearing continuously for
twenty-two years, I have been unable to find so much as one that to the
knowledge of the oldest resident has ever been fertilized in any way, yet,
notwithstanding our lack of knowledge of local conditions, it seems perfectly safe to predicate that liberal manuring with stable manure or
highly ammoniated fertilizers would insure a rank, succulent growth
that is always prejudicial to the best and heaviest fruit production.

In this I am opposed to Professor Hart,who seems to think that stable manures are those only that may be used with a free hand.
We have many safe ways of applying nitrogen through the medium of
various catch crops of pulse or beans, with the certainty that we can never
overload the soil with more than the adjacent tree roots can take up and
thoroughly assimilate. When the time comes that the orchard so shades
the ground that crops can no longer be grown between the rows, then, in
preference to stable manures I would recommend cotton-seed cake or
"poonac",the latter being always obtainable in this Archipelago.

While the most desirable form in which potash can be applied is in the
form of the sulphate, excellent results have been had with the use of
Kainit or Stassfurth salts, and as a still more available substitute, wood
ashes is suggested. When forest lands are near, the underbrush may be
cut and burned in a clearing or wherever it may be done without detriment
to the standing timber, and the ashes scattered in the orchard before
they have been leached by rains. The remaining essential of phosphoric
acid in the form of superphosphates will for some years to come necessarily
be the subject of direct importation. In the cheap form of phosphate
slag it is reported to have been used with great success in both Grenada
and British Guiana, and would be well worthy of trial here.
Lands very rich in humus, as some of our forest valleys are, undoubtedly
carry ample nitrogenous elements of fertility to maintain the trees
at a high standard of growth for many years, but provision is indispensable
for a regular supply of potash and phosphoric acid as soon as the
trees come into heavy bearing. It is to them and not to the nitrogen that
we look for the formation of strong, stocky, well-ripened wood capable
of fruit bearing and for fruit that shall be sound, highly flavored, and
well matured.
The bearing life of such a tree will surely be healthfully prolonged for
many years beyond one constantly driven with highly stimulating foods,
and in the end amply repay the grower for the vigilance, toil, and original
expenditure of money necessary to maintaining a well-grown and wellappointed cacao plantation.

New Varieties.—Cacao is exclusively grown from seed, and it is only by
careful selection of the most valuable trees that the planter can hope to
make the most profitable renewals or additions to his plantations. It is
by this means that many excellent sorts are now in cultivation in different
regions that have continued to vary from the three original, common
forms of Theohroma cacao, until now it is a matter of some difiiculty to
differentiate them.
Residence.—The conditions for living in the Philippines offer peculiar,
it may be said unexampled, advantages to the planter of cacao. The climate
as a whole is remarkably salubrious, and sites are to be found nearly
everywhere for the estate buildings, sufficiently elevated to obviate the
necessity of living near stagnant waters.
Malarial fevers are relatively few, predacious animals unknown, and
insects and reptiles prejudicial to human life or health extraordinarily
few in number. In contrast to this we need only call attention to the entire Caribbean coast of South America, where the climate and soil conditions are such that the cacao comes to a superlative degree of perfection, and yet the limits of its further extension have probably been reached by the insuperable barrier of a climate so insalubrious that the Caucasian's life is one endless conflict with disease, and when not engaged in active combat with some form of malarial poisoning his energies are concentrated upon battle with the various insect or animal pests that make life a burden in such regions.

Nonresidence upon a cacao plantation is an equivalent term for ultimate
failure. Every operation demands the exercise of the obervant eye
and the directing hand of a master, but there is no field of horticultural
effort that offers more assured reward, or that will more richly repay
close study and the application of methods wrought out as the sequence
of those studies.


zondag 11 september 2011

Danta Chocolate Guatemala bis

New not only as couverture Danta http://cocoaskiss.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-guatemala-why-danta.html but also as bars in the shop and this for Belgium.

Solid chocolate bars with Mayan glyph and stone decorations.  Approximate net weight:  50 grams. 

Finca Las Acacias 70%  pure cacao
This beautiful property located in the edges of Escuintla and Suchitepéquez, produces one of the most unusual and delicious Guatemala cocoas. A mix of cocoas Creoles and hybrids produce intense, fruity and very particular tastes.

In the words of a chocolate expert, "If there is something that approximates to perfect chocolate, Danta Acacias is him."

With one production exceeding the 50 tonnes of cocoa from world-class Las Acacias is one of the biggest producers in the country.
Finca Las Ujuxtes 70% pure cacao
The Ujuxtes, located in San Antonio Suchitepequez, cannot be regarded as one of the most beautiful of Guatemala. With spectacular views of the volcanoes, Atitlan, and its rich volcanic soil, the Ujuxtes produces an exceptional cocoa, with intense chocolate flavors and aromas, with notes of tobacco and olives.

All varieties of chocolate we produce of the finca Los Ujuxtes, are characterized by their intensity, great aroma and beautiful appearance. A worthy representative of the historic Guatemalan cacao.

Forget about the other Chuao's!
This is my favorite bar from all the Chuao's.
FLAVOR PROFILE: Red & Black: strawberries, blueberries, currants, plums; licorice & molasses;

And there is the white with cacao nibs and vanilla, quitte special and a treat for everyone.

€ 4.00 each and only € 5.00 for the magnificent Chuao
sharp & intense with pervasive, reverberating finish.

donderdag 8 september 2011

Why Guatemala? Why Danta?

  • Guatemala produces only  1,000 tons of cacao annually, while Ecuador produces over 100,000, and Ivory Coast, 1.2 million.
  • It has been historically proven that Guatemala is one of the original areas of chocolate consumption.
  • In Guatemala, much more chocolate is drunk rather than eaten..
  • Even though cacao’s genetic origins are in the American continent, today the world’s largest cacao producers are located in western Africa and the Pacific Rim.

My relationship with Danta Chocolate Guatemala started when I saw on YouTube a film of a man making artisanal cocoa butter with artisanal equipment.

Later I found out Cheebs (we mailed a few times) was the man behind Danta Chocolate Guatemala and the next step was asking him about his selfmade chocolate made from a selfmade man.

Take a quick look there kitchen and shop in Guatemala City. They are the only bean-to-bonbon company in Guatemala and proudly sell only products made with there own chocolate. Guatemala's storied cacao and ingredients from around the world combine in tiny works of art. Of course there bars are exceptional as well, and they have something for every taste: from a very potent 75% cacao to a sweet and surprising white chocolate with nibs.

So from thise one thing came the other surprice! He would come to Europe (the first visit 2010 he did not achieve to stop in Belgium) but this year he ask me to follow a short workshop, how about this. I ask him to bring some chocolate where we could work with and so we did this September for tree days a interaction between Guatemala and Belgium.

Danta Chocolate Guatemala is wonderfull, the flavours are just so intens and only made in small microbatch recipies.
They are the first single-estate artisan chocolatier of there country, they select only the finest and most carefully processed Mesoamerican cacao.
The ingredients are 100% natural and where possible, of local Origin. Many of these are organic and Fair trade in an effort to contribute to social and enviromental improvement in the region.

Danta Chocolate is born in mid-2008 as a result of the passion its founder, Carlos Eichenberger, has for all things chocolate.  A desire to learn about the methodology and technique of chocolate production  turn into an enthusiastic journey of learning and creation.

Carlos came to Kortrijk and with him his extraordinary couverture, we enjoyed us with making pastry and bonbons and at the end, from his four kilogram of chocolate there is nothing left, except the gateaux and the bonbons.
He was generous and for the shop he shared me some bars for  the happy few to taste, so if you come over be prepared.

Thanks for sharing your chocolate Carlos thanks for beeing here in Kortrijk with us.

donderdag 1 september 2011


Finally I could start with the personalised "Adi Chocolate Fiji" transfer. I ask Tom if I could use his wonderfull Adi logo and he agreed with the suggestion I did.
Great to hear that you will make Adi Chocolate there.
The logo,  if it possible, the word "Adi" need to be in between the legs.
Adi(pronounce "Andy") is a honorific title for Fijian Queen.
The logo is the worrier of the South Pacific and I add koko knife and  
traditional Fijian war club,(Fiji used to be
known as a cannibalism islands) The way this man stand is based on the 
traditional "Meke" dance (attached) fighting form just like
we are ready to harvest koko.



So I realised a intense dark ganache from the Fijian Trinitario of 72% is blended about 25% with Forastero.
The result is magnificent! The sharpness of the cocoa is so is very pure and there is a small hint of roasting on the tip of your tong when the bonbon is melting sensual in your mouth. Creamy and with the use of invertsugar so generous tasting.

I do have to contact Tom and ordering him more different couvertures soon...

woensdag 24 augustus 2011

Another day, another message in the inbox.

The Daily Review

Boxed Chocolate Review

Another day, another message in the inbox. They’re all pretty much the same variation on one another. This one was different however. Instead of a tracking number for an overnight shipment, it read: “I like your website & want to send you a box but I do not ship because my creations do not travel well. The chocolates are always made by myself & only with the best ingredients. I create them without any artificial preservatives, which would extend chocolate a long time beyond their true shelf life (I think you should buy chocolates when you have the need to). This, in short, is what I do & like to do... all for the passion &... for those with Passion for Chocolate. If you ever should be in Belgium, you are very welcome to taste.”

Woa, the C-spot™ elevates cacáo all it can but this declaration startled the office.

Has chocolate now surpassed wine (negociants & brokers will move anything, anywhere, anytime... for a price) to rival a Stradivarius? The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, probably the first European monarch to sip the sacred brew (as then chocolate was served as a beverage only), must be weeping all over his tomb in the Royal Pantheon at El Escorial upon hearing that, no, there won’t be any delivery in the afterlife after all.

Even more startling, in an industry that covets secrecy comes an invitation at the close of the letter: “you are welcome to work with me.” Wow.

But what happens if this chocolatier’s output is pitiful? How will it be possible to rip on such a beautiful soul in a review? O, the pangs of honesty. Maybe that’s precisely the nefarious intent behind all the killing-with-kindness overtures.

Mercifully, there are no such conflicts.

Geert (the ‘G’ silent, pronounced ‘heert’) Vercruysse likes to say he never works; that this being chocolate he always plays. He undersells himself. His passion for Theobroma cacao (literally ‘god-food’ in Latin), & all things chocolate all of the time, rises to the level of a calling. Therefore, call him a pre-ordained priest, iman, kohen, monk, shaman... whomever gets tapped as handler of the sacramental truths. The trust safely ensconced in his care, he whiles away hours, days & nights -- his whole life really -- ritually inviting all ye faithful that put this little town of Kortrijk, Belgium on their pilgrimage itinerary & flock to it after Lourdes & Notre Dame en route to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam -- holy sites all. There, Geert offers his daily benediction, & thus duly blessed, a smile guides the rest of the way.

Chocolate Hallelujah.

An honorary member of the God Squad.

Email, txt’g, tweets, Skype, VOIP can go only so far. The best way to experience it is in the flesh, in person, via an audience with Geert. He’s a sensualist like that.

The next best option: V.S.O.P. (Very Special One-time Parcel).

You see, in the budding community of the chocolati, miraculous apparitions appear. Geert included a postscript to his letter: “If I should have a friend who is visiting NYC, where could they drop you some chocolates, you never know?”

Where else... at the height of the summer meltdown with temperatures melting well beyond any confection’s temperment to withstand them, in walk two strangers carrying an insulated cool-pack where Dr. Maricel Presilla, the reigning queen mother of the modern chocolate scene, enshrines bars from around the globe, as well as performs her own wizardry with Latin cuisine. Playing in the background: Cannonball Adderley’s This Here. After exchanging pleasantries, the visitors calmly open the cooler to reveal a treasure trove. A pallet of edible jewels sent from Patisserie Vercruysse & hand-delivered by his relatives / trusted envoys because blood is thicker than water & chocolate has symbolized blood ever since its Mesoamerican roots. In presenting the gifts to the good Dr. Presilla & offering more salutations to the C-spot™ (thank you very much), they reiterate how “fresh chocolates don’t cope with long distance travel very well, but this is the risk we have to take”.

The very definition of personal service so precious one would think the Hope Diamond had arrived.

In a sense, it has.

Naturally, Dr. Presilla makes sure the treasure is appropriately handled & all due protocols are met in the chain of custody.

The honor gratefully accepted, there’s no way to adequately return it.

In an era when hope has turned to despair & the world superficially appears to be going to hell in a handbasket, Geert Vercruysse re-affirms that not all is lost, for big-hearted & kind-spirited people are coming back to chocolate instead.

Geert (remember, pronounced ‘heert’), as in ‘here it is’.
Geert it is... Patisserie Vercruysse on the Hudson: Liaisons from Beligium inside Maricel Presilla’s Ultramarinos destination in Hoboken, NJ, USA -- right across the Hudson River from Manhattan

Presentation   3.8 / 5
plastic portable chess box (let’s hope food-grade for cocoa butter is highly absorbent)! well-crafted & attractive pieces, clean & easy on the eyes by a moderate sheen; uniform size & shaped to look like mahjong tiles au noir; ditto color transfer tops all lined up in neat rows if technically imperfect (some uneven bottom seals); overall, so far so good
Aromas   4 / 5
redolent of a bakery (pastry butter, oven-warm bread, croissants) next door to a chocolate factory (light cocoa & sugared scents laced with marshmallows, freshly pampered baby's ass & newly tilled earth)
Textures/Melt   8.4 / 10
Shells: cares about the craft -- nice construction with (generally) proper thickness of support walls vs. softness of ganache creates good juxtapose to give the tooth something to play with & the tongue a teasing melt
Centers: soft, clean, no grease, with excellent spread on the palate (save for marzipan’s sweetened sand paper) attained perhaps by slightly higher than average cream-to-cocoa ratio
Flavor   42 / 50
Delimited by design. Primarily a series of single-origin ganches, the equivalent of a Grand Palet d’Or Tour Around the World of Premium Cacáo, with only a few containing inclusions for change of pace / taste. Solid, & in some cases -- knowing the base material – remarkable; no nasty soy, overriding additives or other abominations save for a few scorchingly-sugared ganaches that blast the senses rather than seducing them, often achieved by mixed combos of Milk-on-Dark or vice versa.

The usual pattern: a frontal sugar assault, then soft chocolate, followed on (in the case of some pure origin cacáos) by an odd / alternating old shoe / fish bone / pencil shaving / mouse tail in the upper sinus cavity that feels experimental in parts & eccentric in others – therefore sugar the great equalizer. Valiantly attempts to draw a fine line between taming / gelding such interesting sources (patterned after the classic Euro tradition) or letting them roam wild & free (perhaps unwisely given the nature of some origins & their spotty post-harvest techniques).

In the majority of instances though a rare exposition. And in every instance, incomparably fresh.
Quality   24.9 / 30
Highly-processed. Belgian sweet (sugar ‘n cream, please), French style (crêpe-thin shell / satin ganache), Euro sensibility (pleasure... all for pleasure) & global in scope. Rather than rely on bulwark Belgium lines such as Callebaut or Belcolade, Vercruysse spurns them (a rarity... a Belgium Chocolatier who never works with Belgium couverture!). Instead he champions diversity & obtains couverture the way artisanal barsmiths obtain cacáo – from many sources. He spans the globe seeking out small & unique craftsmen who align with his interest.

Like Amano’s boxed collection, he introduces the uninitiated to origin cacáo via the bombone. Like Castelain, he’s an optimician to make several barsmiths taste better than their original work.

In Geert’s own words: Truffles are always made without adding flavors to origin chocolate, to keep the origin taste of the chocolate, which is my goal & respect for the planters & honest chocolate makers. One of the nice things is creating chocolates with couverture of new companies or new batches to taste their flavors for the first time, not as a chocolate bar, but in a sublime bonbon.

Any shortcomings stem from the couvertures themselves which Geert selflessly highlights at the expense of adding flavoring(s) that might cover for them. Pretty gutsy for a chocolatier to ride out so naked like this. It demands a premium placed on sourcing if not the absolute best, then at least those with character to challenge & excite the senses.

Craft all here; attention to detail too; plus respect for the wondrous base produce -- exotic cacáos, many painstakingly fermented, sun-dried, roasted, ground & conched.

Syncopated & simple is the grail-quest here. The road can be so long & winding. Unlike Elijah for whom the journey at one point proved much too much, Geert Vercruysse is well along on it, sustained by the power of cacáo to connect people in answer to that fundamental question: "What is your business here?" (1 Kings 19).
Couverture: Adi; Åkesson; Amano; Casa Luker; El Ceibo; Madre; Original Beans; Pacari + more coming
NOTE: Because of Geert’s creativity, the names below refer to the design depicted on each respective piece. the C-spot™ has taken this liberty in homage to him.

Birth of a Child – the singular match of Åkesson’s 75% Madagascar & butcher’s-grind quality Voatsiperifery pepper except here paired with a rather tame Brazilian chocolate (there's a first... a tame bar from Brazil) or just a deeply sublimated one in a buttoned-down balsamic-like complex layered on thick & brooding thru a Dark butter-ganache; very adult & aggressive, especially how the pepper comes & stays with the chocolate finish to unpeel the senses in an otherworldly dimension; huge flavor & effect... a standout

Boxy’s - Casa Luker’s 65% frames a rapido meltaway of marzipan-cum-coconut (almost a goopy franken-hybrid of fondant / meal)... leaves some sugar burn-marks after it confects into a cake consistency & yet satisfying to the point of craving more; still, should re-proportion for better results

Daisy - very smooth / very sweet gianduia cut by almond with an MC base that renders a wafer backing

CurlycueMilk-over-Dark, satin soft & smooth; a too damn hi-sweet pitch / sugar-kill on all the softness of the milk/cream that nonetheless coerces the high notes of the mother ship (Adi couverture) toward a grape-gestalt; intriguing

Crushed Diamond - pure Pacari with a splash of Belgian cream; very straight, tannic-Dark cocoa & simple... + typical Ecuadorian chalk limning the edges that cauterizes the finish

Jane’s - belongs to the woman whose lover took her on a safari expedition guided by Geert himself... specifically, Congo’s Mavivi Nat’l Park to witness “wildlife cacáo” grown under the auspices of Philipp Kaufman’s Original Beans venture, crafted into the bar Virunga, then transformed by Geert Vercruysse for this stylish li’l passport; an all-Dark black-tie affair in the jungle calm (replete with very disquieting hints at its earthy parent cacao) that releases tannins on the high palate inflected with jujube fruit & grounded by that treacle also found in Blanxart’s nearby Congo 82% before a eucalyptus-like coolness clears the cocoa forest; this doubles as the tuck-in chocolate on the pillow for sweet dreams whence safely back in the tent, or back home where good taste travels freely

Fronds - another unadulterated origin cacáo (Pacari 60%); Milk-on-Dark ; a bit nitty gritty on the texture, otherwise well fermented for very fruitful profile incorporating cream as custard backed in what passes for pastry flour; once more however the finish flounders similarly to the Crushed Diamond

Pod Bearer - take the Fronds above from Pacari but at 80%... naturally greater stamina (very smooth, deep, long lasting ganache) & no flat finish per se, only a lilting road-kill frog in the upper sinus cavity (wow, talk about rainforest!); tremendous

Balloons - attains phenomenal altitude from a fruit-gusher for an upper register treat... yields to tonka beans & crushed cocoa nibs, especially the golden hay aspect of the herb; beautifully tailored Dark ganache trimmed in a Milk Choc casing – all sourced in Venezuela by Amano -- with lasting quality; exceptional

The Maze - from the Lubeca house of Marzipan comes this 44% grainy paste; very slight shell-yield; overly sweet (almond almost gets lost in the sugar) yet quite true to the nut (as Dark cocoa only mildly influences the proceedings) but, alas, with a tin back

Connecting the Dots - based on the “Chloé Bar” that transforms with cream those cognac-inflected tones from the El Ceibo 71% into... not a Bailey’s Irish Cream but a Geert’s Belgian Chocolate Ale... ending on a powerfully sweet cocoa-cotton candy hit; a micro-brewery at its most compact

Red Pods - Milk Chocolate shell & cream ganache impose themselves on one of Adi’s better releases – the 72% Fijian Ami-Ami-Ca -- mollifying the objectionable notes while highlighting the inviting ones (papaya into strawberry) even as the back craters into the ocean floor

Reviewed August 19, 2011

Source: http://www.c-spot.com/chocolate-census/daily-review/?pid=1513

many thanks to Mark Christian from C-spot USA

dinsdag 23 augustus 2011


Cocoa tree rehabilitation in Ecuador

Monkeys, rats, and parrots are here and in all tropical countries the
subject of much complaint, and if the plantation is remote from towns or
in the forest, their depredations can only be held in check by the constant
presence of well-armed hunter or watchman. Of the more serious enemies
with which we have to deal, pernicious insects and in particular
those that attack the wood of the tree, everything has yet to be learned.
Mr. Charles N. Banks, an accomplished entomologist, now stationed at
Maao, Occidental Negros, is making a close study of the life history of
the insect enemies of cacao, and through his researches it is hoped that
much light will be thrown upon the whole subject and that ways will be
devised to overcome and prevent the depredations of these insect pests.
The most formidable insect that has so far been encountered is a beetle,
which pierces and deposits its eggs within the bark. When the worm
hatches, it enters the wood and traverses it longitudinally until it is ready
to assume the mature or beetle state, when it comes to the surface and
makes its escape. These worms will frequently riddle an entire branch
and even enter the trunk. The apertures that the beetle makes for the
laying of its eggs are so small -more minute than the head of a pin-
that discovery and probing for the worm with a fine wire is not as fruitful
of results as has been claimed.
Of one thing, however, we are positively assured, i. e., that the epoch of
ripening of the cacao fruit is the time when its powerful fragrance serves
to attract the greatest number of these beetles and many other noxious
insects to the grove. This, too, is the time when the most constant and
abundant supply of labor is on the plantation and when vast numbers of
these insects can be caught and destroyed. The building of small fires
'at night in the groves, as commonly practiced here and in many tropical
countries, is attended with some benefits. Lately, in India, this remedy
has been subject to an improvement that gives promise of results which
will in time minimize the ravages of insect pests. It is in placing powerful
acetylene lights over broad, shallow vats of water overlaid with min eral oil or petroleum.

Some of these lamps now made under recent patents yield a light of dazzling brilliancy, and if well distributed would doubtless lure millions of insects to their death.
The cheap cost of the fuel also makes the remedy available for trial by every planter.
There is a small hemipterous insect which stings the fruit when about
two-thirds grown, and deposits its eggs within. For this class of insects
M. A. Tonduz, who has issued publications on the diseases of cacao in
Venezuela, recommends washing the fruit with salt water, and against
the attacks of beetles in general by painting the tree stem and branches
with Bordeaux mixture, or with the vassiliere insecticide, of which the
basis is a combination of whale-oil soap and petroleum suspended in lime
wash. There can be no possible virtue in the former, except as a preventive
against possible fungous diseases; of the sanitive value of the
latter we can also afford to be skeptical, as the mechanical sealing of the
borer's holes, and thereby cutting off the air supply, would only result
in driving the worm sooner to the surface. The odor of petroleum and
particularly of whale-oil soap is so repellant, however, to most insects that
its prophylactic virtues would undoubtedly be great.
The Philippine Islands appear to be so far singulax'ly exempt from the
very many cryptogamic or fungous diseases, blights, mildews, rusts, and
cankers that have played havoc with cacao-growing in many countries.
That we should enjoy continued immunity will depend greatly upon securing
seeds or young plants only from noninfested districts or from
reputable dealers, who will carefully disinfect any shipments, and to supplement
this by a close microscopical examination upon arrival and the
immediate burning of any suspected shipments.
Another general precaution that will be taken by every planter who
aims to maintain the best condition in his orchard is the gathering and
burning of all prunings or trimmings from the orchard, whether they are
diseased or not. Decaying wood of any kind is a field for special activity
for insect life and fungous growth, and the sooner it is destroyed the
On this account it is customary in some countries to remove the fruit
pods from the field. But unless diseased, or unless they are to be returned
after the harvest, they should be buried upon the land for their
manurial value.

The picture above was taken in Ghana, where fortunately, beans may sometimes be extracted from pods showing disease sypmtoms on the outside - unlike Moniliophthora diseased pods
(see below).