Chocolate

History and legend of cocoa and chocolate

The first cocoa farmers were the Maya, according to a legend, by the will of their third Hunahpu king: cocoa was considered so precious by the Maya to be used as currency in trade with other tribes.

After the tenth century, with the mysterious destruction of the Mayan civilization, those same lands were cultivated by the tribe of the Toltecs from the north, whose king, Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl (plumed Serpent), was defined for his immense goodness becoming part of the Azteca mythology.

According to the myth, God was the possessor of an immense treasure consisting of “all the riches of the world, gold and silver, green stones called chalchiuitl and other precious objects, as well as like a great abundance of cocoa trees of different colors.”

While away Quetzalcoatl was a king, in order to put an end to a serious disease that had struck him, he was driven to drink a potion that brought him to madness; however, the King fled towards the sea where, with a raft of twisted snakes, went away disappearing in to mystery by promising his return in place under the sign of the “Ce-acatl” in order to recover his kingdom.

When the time came, in 1519, a large ship loaded with men with armor glittering like flakes of feathered serpent and plumed helmets, first appeared near the east coast of the Aztec kingdom.

The emperor Montezuma believed the prophecy and immediately welcomed peacefully the ship ready to return the kingdom to the God Quetzalcoatl.

But from the boat fell not the Aztec God, but the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés who offered to the people golden gifts, silver and precious stones as well as baskets full of cocoa beans.

From that moment on, cocoa and chocolate, the tasty beverage that comes from it, began to become known to the world.

There are many varieties of the cocoa plant from which cocoa is produced chocolate (made with cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar), but we can simplify the order into three basic groups: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario.

Criollo: from Creole, “stranger”, as the Spaniards baptized. It is the cocoa of the Maya, the only one cultivated in the seventeenth century, a native of Mexico, Central America and particularly Venezuela; from Maracaibo, in fact, is one of the most valuable qualities, the “porcelán”: this type of cocoa is difficult to cultivate because it is susceptible to disease, so much so that today it constitutes only 5% of world production.

Forastero: native of the Amazon, was introduced by the Portuguese in the island of Sao Tome. It is the most popular especially in Africa and, of course, in Brazil; it comes to constitute almost 80% of world production precisely because of its easy adaptability to different territories.

Trinity: a hybrid resulting from the crossroads of the two previous ones. Planted around 1727 in Trinidad, to replace the plantations of “criollo” destroyed by a hurricane, it proved a very tough plant. Its fruit has the characteristics of both varieties from which it derives, has a good content of cocoa butter and a fine aroma, which is why it is used in the production of fine chocolate.

The cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, only grows in the tropical belt. Requires an ambient temperature between 20° and 32°C, and a humid climate. It is a delicate plant. It supports nor excessive sun or the wind: the cocoa trees usually grow in the cool shade of banana trees and rows of coconut trees. The fruit (cabosside) grows directly on the trunk or on larger branches, is about a long span (from 15 to 25 centimeters) and points, in form, by a rugby ball.

By green, the fruits may be yellow, purple or violet. But every farmer knows that the only way to evaluate the aging is the hollow noise that it produces beating with your fingers. Each pod contains an average of forty seeds, wrapped in a white, juicy flesh, just sweet from the vague taste of melon.

The seeds are dry in order to break down (from 80% to 6-7%) the moisture still contained, interrupting the fermentation process, and avoiding the development of molds. Typically, the drying occurs in a natural way, with exposure to the sun for about two weeks. The seeds are covered and moved continuously during the night or in the event of inclement weather. In other cases, it’s possible adopting the artificial drying under cover, using jets of hot air. And finally it’s time to sorting, cleaning and storage of cocoa beans in jute bags, ready to be shipped worldwide.

The Scaldaferro Torronificio produces confections and almond clusters covered with highest quality dark chocolate, which unites the unmistakable aromas of the scaldaferro mandorlato with an inviting, delicately scented dark chocolate characterized by an inkling of toasted almonds and hazel nuts, producing a new exquisite balance of tastes.

The Scaldaferro Torronificio faithful to the centenarian tradition of the best chocolatiers, utilizes, instead, a recipe for 100% cocoa butter that excludes the addition of other fats, colourings, thickeners and other chemical additives.

To further enliven the mandorlato, in the recipe there was included a particular honey of barena: a honey similar in taste and colour to arbutus, lightly salted because it is harvested by honey bees from flowers that grow in soil subjected to the tides of the venetian lagoon.

The mixture of the sweet taste of the mandorlato, the taste of the honey we use, which is slightly salty, and the bitterness of the chocolate, makes the sensory experience really unique.