New recipes

Chocolate From Tree to Bar at Rabot Estate, St. Lucia (Slideshow)

Chocolate From Tree to Bar at Rabot Estate, St. Lucia (Slideshow)

St. Lucia might be known for white beaches and lush rainforest trails, but it's also an island with a rich cocoa culture

1. First, harvest ripe cocoa pods

Cocoa pods are cut from the tree when they’re bright yellow, after growing for a period of four to five months. The pod on the left is ripe; the pod on the right, unripe.

2. Extract the cocoa seeds from the cocoa pulp

Cocoa pulp, the juicy white membrane surrounding each seed, is edible. Hotel Chocolat’s St. Lucia location restaurant Boucan makes a fizzy sweet-tart cacao Bellini cocktail using the meringue-like pulp.

3. Ferment, dry, and roast the cocoa beans

After being removed from the pod, cocoa beans are fermented for up to a week and sun-dried for up to two weeks. To make chocolate, they are then roasted and winnowed, which removes the shell. The resulting pieces are called cocoa nibs.

4. Grind the beans with a mortar and pestle

In the first step of forming the chocolate bar, cocoa nibs are ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.

5. Achieve a finely ground cocoa paste

Once finely ground, the cocoa nibs are ready to become "chocolate liquor."

6. Add cocoa butter

Cocoa butter, the fatty solids obtained from whole cocoa beans, is added.

7. Mix the nibs with the butter until smooth

With the addition of cocoa butter, the "chocolate liquor" achieves a silky, smooth texture.

8. Add confectioners' sugar

Confectioners' sugar is added to sweeten the still bitter mixture and smooth the texture further.

9. Pipe the chocolate into a mold

Lastly, the sweetened chocolate liquor is poured into a pastry bag and piped into a mold.

10. Finished chocolate bar

After chilling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, the finished bar is ready to eat.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


The Benefits of Cacao Tue, 10 th October 2017

First let us clarify that cacao and cocoa effectively mean the same thing – we use the word cacao to avoid confusing it with the so-called ‘cocoa’ powder used in baking etc. This stuff is NOT the same as cacao.

The cacao plant originated in Central and Southern America and was prized so highly by the Aztecs (not least for its health benefits) that it was even used as currency. The archaeological record shows evidence of cacao beans being fermented, roasted and turned into a chocolate drink as far back as 1900BC. However, this drink would have been very different from the hot chocolate we are used to now no sugar or milk, but instead flavoured with spices and even wine (cacao is not sweet on its own – in fact the beans are quite similar to coffee beans in flavour). Even then it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, and some believed this wonderful plant was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, to give strength to those who drank its brew. It arrived in Europe in the 16th Century and was promptly diluted with sugar and milk to create the famous Western version of the drink.

Cacao harvest, drying, fermentation, planting and grafting and a dried cocoa pod (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

As for how cacao is produced and prepared, not much has changed since the Aztecs. Cacao trees produce pods all year round, which need to be harvested as they ripen. The raw beans are removed from the pod to be fermented, then dried, cleaned and usually roasted. The bean is then shelled and crushed into cacao nibs, then ground into cacao mass – this is pure chocolate. This can then be processed to separate the cacao solids and cacao butter. The cacao/cocoa percentage given on a chocolate bar tells you how much of this true chocolate is actually in there – the rest will be milk, sugar, fats and other flavourings. White chocolate contains no cacao solids but is made from the cacao butter, again with added milk and sugar.

Chocolate processed by hand: grinding cacao nibs in a warmed mortar, conching, adding cocoa butter and pouring the finished product into chocolate moulds (photographed at Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate, St. Lucia).

With the ongoing popularity of healthy alternative foods, raw cacao is now widely available and has some real health benefits. Once the beans are roasted they inevitably lose some of their nutritional content. For example, although chocolate is rich in antioxidants – which are believed to help our bodies combat DNA damage from free radicals – raw cacao contains even more apparently the highest antioxidant concentration of any food! Cacao also contains iron (essential for replenishing the blood), magnesium (great for muscle health, energy and focus), chromium (helps balance blood sugar), Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids, together with some 300 other chemical components. On top of all that, cacao has a delicious, complex flavour and is great at providing a feel-good sensation after eating it. No wonder chocolate has become the ultimate comfort food!

Cacao does contain Theobromine, a chemical relative of caffeine, which is why it is often not recommended for pregnant women. But theobromine doesn’t work on our bodies in the same way as caffeine, in that it does not appear to stimulate the nervous system. However, it is a stimulant nevertheless and so should be used carefully if you are sensitive to caffeine in its raw form. As for pregnancy, there is not yet sufficient research to draw any firm conclusions, so it is probably best avoided for now.

Here is a recipe for a hot and healthy cacao drink (with all the benefits, keeping as close as possible to the true cacao flavour):
(Serves 2)
400ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
6 crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
large pinch of cilli powder
Date syrup to taste

Gently heat the milk with the the spices and cacao, but take care not to boil
Keep on low heat for 3-4 minutes, tail it has all combined, strain and feel free to add some date syrup to taste

You can also try this simple and super-quick vegan chocolate mousse:

Blend both halves of an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of coconut oil. If its not blending smoothly, add a little water or a nut milk.


Watch the video: Top 5 Things to do in St. Lucia (January 2022).