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

Categories: Artisans

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Chocolate nibbles at Cacao Prieto

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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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