Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cacao Beans from the Mexican House of Spice

The Mexican House of Spice, 2220 Douglas Street, has many interesting things available for purchase, one of them we found the last time we were in were cacao beans.   For $3.25, how could I resist?
bowl of roasted cacao beans

I have read about how chocolate is produced, but the closest I have come to the raw product is either cacao powder of large slabs of bakers chocolate.  Seeing them in the store piqued my interest right away.  I have no idea what I am going to do with them, but it is always fun to play around with a less processed ingredient.  Better understanding of my food can only lead to more respect for the product and more options of what I can do with it.

bowl of cacao nibs
The beans, about 60 of them, are dried and roasted but have not had their papery skin removed.   They sort of look a bit like misshapen almonds.  They range in size from the size of peanut to the size of a large almond.

They do not have strong smell at this point.

At lunch today I removed the skins from a bunch of the beans to expose the nib.    The nib is actually a whole bunch of segments and fall apart fairly easily into smaller pieces.

I tried some of the nibs.   I scrapped the nib over my teeth.   It has a very interesting texture, I am not sure how to describe it.   I would not call it chalky, but it certainly grinds off very fine.   I assume the texture comes from them being more than half fat.   the flavour was very mild at first but finished with a very interesting bitter chocolate flavour at the end.   I can see how this could work as a spice, it would go very well with things like nutmeg, cardamon, and cinnamon, especially cinnamonum verum or Ceylon cinnamon (which the Mexican House of Spice carries as Mexican cinnamon).

The next step will be to grind the beans to make cacao paste and then melt it to make chocolate liquor.   I might do that tonight or over the weekend.

cacao nib
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