Recent Posts

Where to Find Good* Chocolate in DC

Where to Find Good* Chocolate in DC

(*What is good chocolate? Any chocolate that makes you happy!)   A helpful guide to finding chocolate during your next visit to DC (Updated 4/2020) Whether your visit is online (for now!) or in person (the future), this list offers some great chocolate that can…

But wait, what is “good” chocolate?

But wait, what is “good” chocolate?

Chocolate Chasing Rule #1: Good chocolate is chocolate that makes you happy. It could be a handful of crunchy peanut M&M’s, a spoonful of Nutella or a dense fudge truffle.  Any chocolate that satisfies you, makes you smile, or simply fills an emotional craving qualifies…

Bringing Ecuador & cacao bean roasting to October’s DC chocolate society meeting

Bringing Ecuador & cacao bean roasting to October’s DC chocolate society meeting

It was a hands-on trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest at our October 2019 DC chocolate society meeting.

The trek took time & effort, but worth every peeled cacao husk to eat spoonfuls of the resulting rich chocolatey treat.

Ecuadorian chocolate
Delicious!

   

Our Ecuadorian immersion tour was led by Galo Pazmino, president of SamiChakra, which also supplies Pacari Organic chocolate.

For this DC meet-up of chocolate lovers, Galo hand-carried all the ingredients from his Ecuadorian Rainforest trip last month. (If you meet Galo, make sure to ask him which one of his provisions was surprisingly flagged by security in Quito.  Fortunately, he convinced the agents of the culinary merit of his inventory.)

 

Galo Pazmino, leading our chocolate demonstration

“SamiChakra is a combination of two words in Quechua: Sami, meaning happiness or joy; Chakra, meaning Mother Earth”

 

As our guide & chef, Galo showed us how the locals carefully heat the beans over an open fire, hand-peel the husks from the toasted beans, and ultimately make a swoon-worthy liquid cacao that dances on your tongue.

At our meeting, small adjustments were made in cooking to accomodate our indoor location:

Instead of an open fire, we used an electric hot plate.  Instead of a hand-formed clay pot, a skillet was used. (Sadly, we permanently cracked Galo’s Ecuadorian-handcrafted clay platter when we exposed it to a hot plate, instead of a flame.)

We even used an authentic Ecuadorian mortar & pestle (the large, dark-gray “grinding bowl” in the photo) that Galo wrestled into his carry-on luggage.

Mortar & Pestle
Mortar & pestle, waiting for the roasted cacao beans

 

Other than those two changes, Galo stayed true to the local chocolate-making process.

Together we roasted the cacao beans.  We hand peeled the husks to remove the inedible exterior shell. We ground & smashed the roasted beans, by hand, in the sturdy mortar & pestle.

And finally, added a bit of the guayusa-infused liquid to make a fudgy flavorful dessert that we joyfully ate by the spoonful.

Hand peeling roasted cacao beans
Carefully hand-peeling the roasted beans.

 

Guayasa Tea leaves
Guayasa tea leaves, from Ecuador.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in more background about our ingredients?

Only three ingredients were used in making our chocolate indulgence.

Flavorful panela sugar

1: Panela sugar. A raw cane sugar, this organic sweetener was purchased in brick form at a local farmers market in Quito. Somehow Galo managed to get the brick of sugar safely through airport security in Ecuador. Before bringing it to the DC meeting, he pulverized it & stored it in a glass jar.

Raw cacao beans, ready for roasting

2: Cacao beans: The Arriba Nacional beans we used are known as some of the finest in the world. Galo bought them at a ‘chakra” near Archidona, a small village in the Central Amazon region. A chakra is a small piece of land (usually not larger than 2.5 acres) where a farmer grows a diverse group of crops such as cacao, coffee, guayusa, pineapple. This type of crop diversity results in a uniquely flavored cacao.

 

 

 

 

3: Guayusa leaves: The dried Ecuadorian tea leaves gathered by Galo (and pictured in the glass jar) were simmered in water to create a guayusa-infused liquid to mix with the ground cacao paste.

 

Guayasa tea leaves

 

It was an informative & tasty evening. We appreciate the enthusiastic participants and offer gratitude to Galo for his energetic instruction and his delectable Ecuadorian chocolate treat!

 

 

 

 

Questions or more info on the group? No experience required to join us! dcchocolatesociety@gmail.com, instagram @dcchocolatesociety or facebook https://www.facebook.com/dcchocolatesociety/

Mushrooms & Chocolate, a DC Chocolate Society August 2019 Adventure

Mushrooms & Chocolate, a DC Chocolate Society August 2019 Adventure

Mushrooms in your dark chocolate? We were feeling adventurous at our August 15, 2019, DC chocolate society meeting. Our tour guide,  CIA trained (Culinary Institute of America) Matt Dixon, head chocolatier & co-owner of Harper Macaw, led us through the taste bud terrain. He re-introduced…

Fun, food & education: First DC Chocolate Society Meeting

Fun, food & education: First DC Chocolate Society Meeting

The DC chocolate community knows how to celebrate chocolate. Within a two-hour drive of DC you’ll find over ten different bean-to-bar makers.  (Reality may result in longer-than-expected drive time.) But even closer to home are a medley of local truffle, bon-bon & chocolate treat shops. …