Posted in Kafevend Blog
With the lure of Easter based blogging well and truly over, we have headed off to pastures anew in search of cocoa related ideas, and have hit upon a good one- other than the well known chocolate bar and hot chocolate, what else can cocoa be used for? We've found a couple of alternatives out there which we're sure you will find interesting- read on to find out more!
Both of our discoveries come from cocoa's place of origin in Central and South America; perhaps unsurprisingly, as they will have had the most time to figure out its potential uses! First up is the use of the initially unappetizing sounding cocoa pulp. Inside every cocoa pod you will of course find beans, but surrounding them is a thick, white pulp. Retaining this when the pods are split open is important, as the pulp and beans are then fermented. The pulp forms the sugary content of the pod, and this breaks down whilst fermenting and develops the flavour of the beans. Typically after this stage the pulp is thrown away, but this needn't be the case.
Some cocoa farmers are already wise to the fact that the pulp makes for a good drink, and have been using it as such for years. In fact, it is believed that the first drink made using cocoa pods thousands of years ago was from the pulp and not the beans, thanks to archeological evidence which has revealed traces of the fermented pulp on the inside of pottery shards. The pulp is still used in a similar way today, but it is also possible to make something less potent too. Despite the presence of public enemy number one these days- sugar- the pulp is rich in a variety of nutrients and vitamins, meaning it can serve as a useful part of a balanced diet. Making sure that as little goes to waste from the pod is also great, and makes us wonder what else there is out there that could benefit from such treatment...
Moving on from drinks, next we are going to look at a popular traditional sauce found in Mexico- mole. This isn't just one sauce though- like tea, there are many types based on colour, such as black, red, yellow and green. The base of all these is the chili pepper, accompanied by other ingredients- herbs, spices and fruit for instance. These are ground up into a dry powdered mix or paste which can be stored. This is then mixed with water and simmered to create a thick, rich sauce. Several types of mole call for the addition of chocolate, perhaps the most famous being mole poblano. This is a dark sauce- as you would expect with chocolate- and is often served with meat. Whilst we might think this as being odd when we think of the typical dairy milk bar, the dark chocolate added to a mole plays well with the savoury nature, developing a silky texture and both counteracting the heat of the chili whilst adding its own subtle flavours.