Chocolate, Whiskey, and Cigars at Cacao Prieto This Summer (PHOTOS)

Categories: Artisans

Chocolate nibbles at Cacao Prieto

Roasted cacao beans

Cacao Prieto's chocolate is single-sourced from land Preston's family has worked in the Dominican Republic for over a century. The chocolate tour begins at a massive 1915 Sirocco roaster that Preston re-engineered to optimal efficiency. From there, we enter an expansive room full of machines that remove and separate the hulls from the beans and crush and heat the beans into a grainy liquid called "chocolate liquor," which is mixed with house-made cocoa butter and sugar and churned to sublime smoothness.

Downstairs, the liquid chocolate is portioned into a line (they were making chips on Friday), where it's molded to shape and cooled at the correct temperature to keep texture consistent. From there, it's packaged in house-printed wrappers. Other bars are hand-molded, which enables house chocolatier Chi Bui to add nuts, fruits, and other tasty embellishments to each bar. The results are dreamy: Gone is the waxy sweetness of Hershey bar chocolate; each Cacao Prieto bar is 72 percent pure chocolate, so it's rich, sweet, and slightly floral.

This 1915 Sirocco roaster slow-toasts cacao and has been updated and modernized.

House-manufactured Conche machines tumble molten cacao, cocoa butter, and sugar for 12 hours until the mixture is silky smooth and ready to be cooled, molded, and packaged.

Chocolate chips are portioned onto a cooling belt. The same machinery is used to mold and cool chocolate into bars.

Final product! The hand-molded Pecan & Sour Cherry bar features a portrait of Esteban and Carmen, who founded the family farm where Cacao Prieto's cocoa is grown.

Next up: whiskey, what?!

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