Did you know that the word Cacao means food of the gods? In the mid-18th century a Swedish scientist, Carl Linnaeus, was so enamoured by the bean that he christened the chocolate tree Theobroma cacao, which is translated as: Cacao, the food of the gods. Intriguingly this is what the Native Americans also called it – showing the respect chocolate has been given throughout the ages.
One of the inspirations behind starting Balanced Nature has been our growing fascination with the alchemy of making chocolate. There is the same potent magic to the process today that the ancient tribes pounding their beans on rocks by the river felt – food of the gods is very apt!
Raw chocolate retains all the intact goodness and power of the cacao plant. We are learning more and more about its amazing health benefits as well. So much more than an after dinner treat or pick-me-up, raw chocolate contains a huge amount of nutrients and antioxidants within its core ( for more information click here ).
We take time creating our raw chocolate – each step is infused with love and care. The journey begins with a careful sorting of the beans we receive (ethically grown in Peru by mountain farmers) – any that are broken or deformed are rejected…but not discarded, nothing goes to waste here!
We then crush the beans in a ‘cracker’ which makes a very satisfying crunching noise and releases glorious rich smells.
Next comes winnowing, which sounds like the noise a horse might make but, is, in fact, separating the husk from the nibs so the bean’s essence is released for use. This age-old method also allows us to cover the creation process with a considered love and attention to detail in the manner of the ancient cacao herbalists of the past.
The little nibs, about 2-5 mm in size, are then pummelled into a paste and placed in a wet grinder, called a stone melanger, where they are ground for about 48 hours to the exact consistency needed. This is measured in terms of micron thickness. We are aiming for 15-25 microns, which is important because texture and grittiness become an issue for your tongue at 30 microns. Conversely the chocolate can get gluey if under 10 microns
The taste, texture and authentic ‘chocolate’ feel begins to emerge as we place the paste through the next process, known as conching – from the Spanish word for shell, due to the original shape of the vessel for this stage.
We are passionate about not only the taste of our raw chocolate but also that it is smooth as silk. So, tempering is the next crucial step….This ensures a luscious colour and also creates that very satisfying snap as you break off a square.
Once tempered, the mixture is poured into moulds and gently placed in refrigeration for about 15 minutes. Then – voilà – the bars are removed from their case and await covering. Gold foil is wrapped around each bar and after the final wrapping is folded, again by hand, we step back and admire our handiwork. We hope you will too – and relish the ritual of peeling back the layers to reveal the gorgeous and very healthy chocolate awaiting you underneath.
Our launch flavours are inspired by Mother Nature’s bounty – Maca and Intense Dark. We would love to hear any ideas for new combinations!