Have you come across fermented and dried cocoa beans? Today, I will talk about my experience with these brown jewels, which we all love to enjoy in many forms, from powder to chocolate to ice cream.
If you have not seen the fresh cocoa fruit, I have attached the pictures and enjoy all the stages from the cocoa plant, whole fruit, halved fruit, and those white fleshy seeds.
(Pic courtesy: Madhura Pradeep)
As a kid, I used to enjoy plucking those cocoa fruits at my grandfather’s farm. Weekly twice, we used to break all those pods, collect the flesh and market it.
Cocoa fruit is elongated; the outer fruit is like a shell, which is red to yellow. Cutting is effortless; hold the fruit in your hand, bang against the floor/ brick/ hard surface. It breaks into halves, and you would see a long bunch of pulpy white mass, which is the natural juicy fruit, which is the protective cover of the inner cocoa seed.
Even though it is called a bean, it is not a bean; it is a fruit seed.
After removing the white pulp, it undergoes a fermentation process; during fermentation, natural white fruit is degenerated and loses its texture and taste. After this, the seed undergoes a drying process, and that is when we get the dried cocoa seed.
This dried seed is the raw material of chocolate and gives two kinds of raw materials for us.
One is Cocoa powder, and the other one is cocoa butter. Outer pulpy fruit is lost during the drying process and what we eat is practically a powdered seed. The taste of the fresh pulp is indeed an experience by itself, and if you get an opportunity to taste it, please don’t hesitate to taste it and enjoy the fruity taste.
Fermented and dried cocoa seeds were procured from my classmate, who has turned into a full-time farmer. I wanted to try some of the recipes by using fresh beans, and hence I bought it and tried a couple of recipes, which I will share in my next posts.
This post is regarding my experience with dried cocoa seeds.
First, I tried to make Pure chocolate powder;
-By roasting these dried cocoa seeds until it pops/ splutter sound arises or until you feel the soothing aroma of cocoa in a low flame.
After cooling, we need to remove and discard the outer shell. It resembles a thin chip. It was a bit tedious process, and my energy indeed dipped a couple of times 😀
While this process, I came to know, the cocoa seed is not intact. It has formed a kidney shape by the attachment of many tiny cocoa nibs. That was the reason, removal of the outer shell was challenging. The amount of pressure you apply is crucial over here to get the whole cocoa seed. Otherwise, easily it breaks, and we would end up collecting only cocoa nibs.
Cocoa Nibs are helpful as an ingredient by themselves, or you can use them as it is to garnish, to include in any of your recipes.
I made Cocoa nibs as well as homemade cocoa powder. It is straightforward, pour all the shelled cocoa nibs/seeds in a mixie jar or coffee grinder, use a pulse option and run a mixie in a regular interval by giving a slight pause. Why pause? While grinding, cocoa starts leaving its butter when it heats up. Homemade cocoa powder is a little grainy in texture and can be used as a cocoa powder wherever you want. It is PURE and subtle in taste. I otherwise, who hates chocolate, did enjoy it.