Venezuelan Origins

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    enezuela is to cocoa as

    Bordeaux is to wine. It

    is one of the most famous

    regions in the world for

    growing chocolate. It is also

    the region where the cocoa

    beans for some of the worlds

    best chocolate is grown, for

    instance, Amedeis single

    plantation chocolate from

    the famous Chuao cacao

    (a specic type of Criollo).

    Michel Cluizels Conception

    66% dark chocolate, made

    from the highly regarded

    Carenero Trinitario cacao,

    is another example, as well

    as Valrhonas Palmira 64%

    dark chocolate made from

    Criollo cacao of the Palmira

    plantation in Western

    Venezuela.

    The avour of chocolate is often

    unique, and does not only depend

    on the type of the bean - there arebig differences between cacao

    grown in different regions even if

    they come from the same type of

    cacao tree. This is why chocolate

    tasting is so interesting. Cacao can

    grow in a belt of subtropical and

    tropical countries centred on the

    equator. Although the tropical soil

    and climate allows for growth of

    these trees, cacao coming from a

    single plantation or a vintage may

    be different from the other.

    For Sydney-based chocolate maker

    and owner of Black Gold Cacao,

    Frank Velasquez, the meticulous

    growing, sourcing, importing

    and creation of his single origin

    Venezuelan chocolate range is

    an exciting adventure. Frank has

    broken new ground in the Australian

    chocolate industry along with a

    handful of chefs, chocolatiers and

    industry specialists.

    Australians are taking a greater

    interest in the source and the type

    of cacao that they use in their

    products. There are locally based

    chocolatiers from

    around the world

    inuencing the

    quality and creation

    of chocolates in our

    market. The quality

    is improving and

    because of this there

    are only more good

    things to come.

    This all points to

    exciting times in the

    chocolate industry

    as Australians are

    becoming more informed they

    are developing a taste for special

    origin chocolates. In Australia we

    have access to a large selection of

    boutique chocolate makers, who all

    make an effort providing information

    describing their craft chocolate bars,

    not only by the ingredients, but also

    including the origin of the bean.

    The avour prole is described not

    unlike the way a sommelier denesthe tastes of wine - notes of fruits,

    spices, oral or earthy proles dene

    the chocolate bars characteristics.

    Some boutique chocolate makers

    also describe the cocoa variety and

    even the conching time (the process

    that develops the smooth texture

    and releases the avour aromas of

    VENEZUELAN Origins

    VENEZUELAN ORIGINS

    Theobroma Cacao, the scientic name for the cocoa tree, comes

    in three different cultivars or grand cocoa varieties: the rare

    Criollo, the sturdy Trinitario and the biological hybrid of both,

    the Forastero. What grows from these fairly small trees is the

    cacao pod: an oval shaped fruit whose colour ranges from bright

    yellow and carnelian orange or red to sometimes even purple.

    Its skin is thick and rm, requiring a sharp tool (like a machete)

    to crack it open. Inside the shell, highly aromatic cocoa beans

    are encased in juicy sweet white pulp. This is the fruit that

    chocolate comes from.

    venezuelan origins

    CHOCOLATE FROM THE CITY OF THE MASTERS OF CACAOBy Elaine Young

    page 2page 1

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    VENEZUELAN Origins

    venezuelan origins

    plantation at Yaguaraparo, otherwise

    known as the City of the Masters of

    Cacao. Its natural beauty has been

    preserved with a rich, fertile soil due

    to the remnants of millions of years of

    Amazonian jungle.

    The area has barely been touched by

    industrialisation and its clean natural

    beauty has been preserved. The

    environment is tropical with a good

    balance of rainfall and sunshine, and

    the temperature is consistently warm:

    the perfect growing conditions for the

    cocoa tree. The environment and the

    richness of the area is what allows

    Frank and his family to grow their

    cocoa trees using organic methods.

    Yaguaraparo is close to the ocean

    with a small town that provides the

    locals with their daily essentials. Life is

    simple, but Frank describes the people

    working with chocolate as always

    being happy. Donkeys still walk the

    streets in the small towns and rows of

    huge mango trees abound. This small

    city is home to the cocoa farmers and

    shermen both living and working in

    the area.

    The farmers harvest cocoa and use

    a machete carefully when picking the

    pods. Picking the fruit is undertaken

    carefully to avoid damaging the pods,

    leaves, branches or the tree trunk as

    wounds will provide entry for fungi and

    insects. Only pods that are perfectly

    ripe carry ideal beans that can be

    made into chocolate. The pods are

    cracked open with a machete, with the

    beans being removed from the pods

    and then the fermentation process

    is started. Fermentation triggers a

    series of chemical

    reactions that sets

    the essential avour

    precursor prior

    to bean roasting

    eventually creating

    the unique avour

    of a particular

    chocolate.

    The fermentation

    for chocolate is

    similar in importance

    to fermentation in

    winemaking, and follows a similar

    process. The cocoa pulp is rich in

    sugars and high in acidity. These are

    ideal conditions for the development of

    certain microorganisms.

    It is these microorganisms that

    break down the pulp, turning the

    pulp into liquid by converting sugars

    into alcohol. All of these processes

    contribute to the development of

    different bacteria that triggers natural

    chemical reactions in the beans.

    The bitterness is reduced and the

    chocolate avour and aromas develop.

    Franks family ferments and roaststheir cacao beans prior to exporting

    around the world.

    It is a very natural co-existence with

    the farmers and the land. This co-

    existence is at the core of Black Gold

    Cocoas ethos to provide quality

    raw cacao and cacao products to

    chocolate connoisseurs, delivering

    a delicious chocolate experience

    to customers whilst keeping trade

    fair and benecial for all. Black Gold

    Cacao products, such as their drinking

    chocolate powder, raw cacao, cacao

    nibs, cacao butter, cacao liquor and

    chocolate couverture has a sweet,

    pleasantly bitter, rounded, earthy, full-

    bodied and slightly fruity avour.

    Here in Australia, Frank has been

    involved with the government in

    growing cocoa trees in Queensland.

    He believes in caring for the land,

    giving back to the earth and not just

    taking from it. He supports and works

    with farmers in North Queensland,

    providing them with cocoa beans to

    grow and cultivate. Frank is a lover

    of nature and you will nd him on his

    board surng the ocean whenever he

    isnt around chocolate.

    Elaine is a Consultant Pastry Chef/

    Chocolatier, who has worked with food

    companies helping them to create

    an engaging connection with their

    consumers through professional and

    expert advice, recipe development,

    demonstrations and informational

    content. She offers services in training

    and menu design for restaurants and

    hotels needing creative input in pastry

    and chocolate.

    chocolate by kneading them with

    rollers kept at warm temperatures

    for a prolonged period of time).

    Frank describes the Australian

    consumer as one that has great

    taste and is willing to search for

    premium quality: It wouldnt be

    a surprise if the movement of the

    chocolate industry would liken it

    to where we are now with coffee.

    Australia, especially Melbourne

    and its coffee culture, has been

    recognised by both locals and

    tourists as having the best coffee

    in the world. Frank was previously

    in the coffee importing business

    before he moved to chocolate and

    sees some parallels between the

    two. Eventually chocolate may be

    heading that way with our chocolate

    makers, chocolatiers, pastry chefs

    and even baristas striving for

    excellence and pushing boundaries

    creating a selection of different

    chocolate experiences for the

    Australian market.

    Frank grew up on a farm that had

    been in the family since 1930, where

    traditions of cultivating, harvesting

    and preparing cacao techniques

    were passed on from generation

    to generation. Franks mother was

    his business mentor, guiding him

    into the labyrinth of the trade. Most

    importantly, she taught him about

    the value of being able to share his

    passion with his employees, treating

    them fairly and bringing out the best

    in them. She was very organised

    and it is from his mother that Frank

    learned discipline. His father, his

    greatest source of strength and

    energy, is one of his inspirations

    and the reason behind the early

    beginnings of Black Gold Cacao.

    Roughly four years ago when

    Frank was o