In my book “In Pursuit of Purity, The Paris Chocolate Files” I chronicled my chocolate adventures that started off in the beautiful city of Paris where I found myself transported to a world of chocolate. No matter where I went there was a chocolate shop beckoning me with delectable treats in the window. I couldn’t help but wonder how there could be so many phenomenal chocolate makers in one city. It was absolutely astounding!
Since then, my chocolate adventures have taken a different yet deliciously wonderful turn as I have traveled the globe through tasting chocolate bars and cacao beans from around the world. Sampling cacao beans directly from farmers has been an unexpectedly exciting experience that this gal from Hawaii would not have imagined. I never would have guessed that I would be able to experience the source of where chocolate comes from?
These surprising detours have given rise to creativity in me that I never knew existed. Not only did I develop the courage to make bonbons filled with cacao nectar jelly, chocolate dipped fruit, chocolate covered cacao beans, and truffles, but chocolate served as a medium I used to make items specific to my needs because of my allergies. This resulted in me creating my own chocolate body mist spray and cocoa butter based lip balm.
Then there was the issue of not having access to intriguing cacao related items, like Chocao Cocoa Gin Liquor or Nailmaker Chocolate Safari Imperial Stout. This served as yet another factor that impelled me to create my own items.
In the past I’ve made fruit infused vodka, so I thought why not make a cacao infused vodka?After all, cacao is a fruit! “Why vodka? Why not rum?” people asked. Well, for starters, I didn’t have enough rum to experiment with. But the primary reason is that I wanted a neutral liquor that would allow me to actually taste the cacao bean itself. I made a few batches after determining what beans to use. The first one was made with beans from Fincas Dos Vistas in Aripo, Trinidad. These beans imparted an extraordinary nutty cocoa flavor and made a fantastic Chocolate Martini. If you aren’t partial to having a really sweet drink, you can actually pass on adding any kind of chocolate liqueur because the cacao flavor is remarkably pronounced.
The next batch was made with a blend of beans from Madagascar and Tanzania. While the cacao flavor from these beans was light and secondary to its brighter red fruit character, this spirited vodka was quite inviting during the winter season. Its flavor profile would make it a great vodka to use for a Red Carpet Chocolate Cherry Martini.
The creative experiments didn’t end there. Not too long ago I was introduced to Cuna De Piedra’s chocolate. Despite being a purist at heart, I really loved their 73% Chiapas with Mezcal Joven and their 73% Comalcalco Tabasco with Mezcal Reposado. When I had a chance to interview their co-founder, Enrique Perez, I found myself inspired to try some traditional Mexican dishes since it had been a while. After making Mole sauce I found myself wanting it even more and envisioning what it would pair well with. It was this experience that sparked the idea to make something rather avantgard ... a chocolate inclusion bar with Mole. So, here is my attempt to integrate the flavorful savoriness of Mole into an 85% chocolate bar. And, voila! I created my very own homemade Mexican Mole chocolate bar.
Remember … Chocolate cultivates creativity so let your creative juices flow! If you haven’t experimented with chocolate, I would encourage you to give it a try. Go beyond baking chocolate chip cookies and a chocolate cake. Don’t get me wrong, as I enjoy making them as well. However, you may find yourself surprised at how creative you can be the more you play around with chocolate!