One of my all time favorite foods in this world is chocolate. It always has been, but the more I learn about it, the more I love it. Months ago, I discovered an artisan chocolate cafe and factory in Downtown Provo called Taste. They have a fresh growing menu as well as a wall of premium and pure top chocolates from around the world.
You can do mini chocolate, cheese, and sipping vinegar tastings most days of the week, or schedule a full one with a tour of the factory included. I probably get myself a new bar about every 1-2 weeks to keep around home which helps curb my sugar cravings. Just a couple small bites of 70%+ a day is enough to gain the health benefits.
To receive these health benefits, you can’t get just any chocolate. In fact, Walmart doesn’t even carry chocolate that could be considered healthy, I’ve checked. Those chocolates have all kinds of added ingredients and preservatives. For example, I’ve never liked white chocolate. That is, until I tried real white chocolate. Everything you can find at the grocery store or gas station is made with hydrogenated vegetable oil and food coloring, no where near the pure cocoa butter and cane sugar combination you’ll find at Taste, or any other artisan chocolate shop. Taste actually makes their own chocolate in their shop, which contains only 2 ingredients: Cacao and sugar.
You can get raw cacao nibs (a superfood) to just snack on at nearly any health food store, but they do have a pretty bitter flavor so I prefer them in smoothies or on chocolate bars. My favorite darkness lands at about 70-75%. The following list are the health benefits of pure, dark chocolate:
-High in antioxidants, a protection from disease.
-Improves heart health.
-Lowers bad cholesterol.
-Raises good cholesterol.
-Improves cognitive function, brain health.
-Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar.
-Improves blood flow.
-Protects your skin against the sun.
Today my sister and I did our very first official Chocolate tasting. He taught us how the professionals determine the top brands with a 5 step process; Observing, snapping, smelling, feeling/rubbing, and of course tasting. My favorite part about visiting this cafe is how much I’ve learned every time. The staff is extremely welcoming and will answer any questions. I’ve made note of all the fascinating facts I’ve learned over the last few months and wanted to share them with you here.
–Chocolatiers create things out of chocolate such as chocolate eggs or different shapes. Chocolate Makers actually make the chocolate from the bean.
-When it comes to pure chocolate, we are talking cacao, sugar, and possibly a little cocoa butter or vanilla bean. Some companies add inclusions, like berries, nuts, or honey. The Pump Street Bakery bar you see above actually put sea salt and pieces of their rye bread in it. Almost like crushed croutons. It’s incredible!
-The darker the chocolate, the more of a snap you can hear when you break it. However, if it’s more of a milk chocolate and has inclusions, it can still have a stronger snap than you’d expect.
-How the cacao beans are fermented and what the climate is like in the area they are grown, largely determines what the chocolate will taste like. One of my favorite 70% bars called Camino Verde is made in Salt Lake City by a company called Solstice. These beans come from Ecuador and it has hints of banana, caramel, brown sugar, and cream. Michel Cluizel has a 64% from Maralumi Plantation in Indonesia that tastes so strongly of dark berries, you’d assume they were actually in there! All because of where the beans came from.
-Chuao beans come from Venezuela and are the rarest with dark berry, earthy flavor notes. An Italian family with the name of Valrhona bought ALL the Chuao bean plants and kept them to themselves for a long time until the Amedei family came in and bought them out after being denied the use of them. It’s difficult to get ahold of Chuao beans, but not impossible anymore.
-Cacao is fresh and pure, a more rare and exotic type of chocolate. Cocoa is mass produced and processed with high heat, destroying the important nutrients, which is what the most well known companies like Hershey uses.
-The lower percentage of cacao used in chocolate, the more sugar and cocoa butter is used, creating a milk chocolate.
-Chocolate gets darker with time. I recently tried a Piura bar created by Taste that is a 75%, but they were brand new so it’s still a lighter color, which you’d think was milk chocolate just by looking at it.