Chocolate. The very word sounds indulgent. There is obviously a world of difference between supermarket products that say “chocolate-y” as a disclaimer vs. the real thing. There is also a difference between cacao and cocoa; as well as a growing trend to use cacao in cooking—not just for sweets, but also for savoury dishes. So, how do we know what to purchase?
We want couverture chocolate with a firm snap and creamy flavour. But, there are also distinct regional differences. Different flavour profiles compliment different recipes. How do we know which region we should be looking at?
Cacao Barry makes all of this very easy.
A recent Cacao Barry seminar at George Brown College was like a master class for chocolate enthusiasts, but it stimulated our imaginations as much as our palates. Afterwards we each walked away with one zip-bag of the new Cacao Barry Plantation and Origine Chocolate line of chocolates.
Each bag illustrates not merely the cacao percentage, fluidity, chocolate format and net weight, as well as the specific cacao genetics, origins and map, but also provides pictorial flavour descriptions.
For example, one bag of Tanzania chocolate clearly reads: 75% cacao, 45% fat, 100% pure cacao butter; 100% natural vanilla. The beans are a blend of Criollo and Forastero. A diagram of the taste profile indicates the tasting levels of cacao; roasting; bitterness; sour; spice; fruit; wood; and floral notes. The description suggests “rich, acidulous taste and intense bitterness…a spicy, peppery aroma, with hints of citrus, and even a note of olive.” The flavour notes are also pictured on the front of the bag.
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Other zip-bags of chocolate, each with distinct profiles, are from Venezuela, Haiti, Ghana, Santa Domingo, Equador, and my favourite, Mexico.
Here’s the best part: the cacao-barry website also provides recipes and pairing tips for this chocolate, which is exactly what we need to know for baking and cooking. This Tanzanian chocolate pairs with: Pepper; Speculoos; Basil; Lime; Merlot; Walnuts; Olive Oil; Balsamic Vinegar; Blackcurrant; Redcurrant; Raspberry; Yuzu; Pineapple; Coconut; Pecans; Cocoa Nibs; Truffle Oil; Red Meat; Sea Scallops; and Porcini.
This new fixture in my kitchen pantry, Cacao Barry origin chocolate couverture, guides me to choose the right chocolate for my culinary desires. The opportunities for baking and cooking with chocolate have just swung wide open!
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.