From bean to bar: an organic process at Kakaw Chocolate Company
Using Belizean cocoa powder from Kakaw Chocolate company, I had spent a few minutes whisking, beating and creating a rich batter for cupcakes. It’s my go-to recipe, never failing to deliver. But I had always used the standard fare – imported cocoa powder. I was thus thrilled that my visit to the chocolate factory on the island also meant I came home with a few treats, including a nice bag of cocoa powder. It is richer, containing more fat, so island chocolatiers Chris and Jo Beaumont warned me to cut back on the butter or oil that normal recipes required. Less fat?! Whoohoo!! It seems my ‘diet’ could include treats made with Kakaw-based products.
Chris and Jo are from the United Kingdom, and they run Kakaw Chocolate Company, an artisan chocolate factory that lovingly produces small batches of chocolate for the discerning consumer (AKA Chocoholics). Let’s face it. Chocolate is a universally spoken language, it brings people together in their love and passion for the creamy, crunchy, rich, decadent product. There are any number of places that produce chocolates, but there is something about those bars, bites, powders and byproducts that come in small batches, made by hand, by a person you know, using ingredients grown in your own country.
Inspired after the first-ever (2008) Cacao Festival in the southern Toledo district, Chris and Jo have been churning out delicious dark chocolate made by beans grown organically ‘down south’. The sugar comes from “Suga City”, the northern Orange Walk district. Being a small company, there is a very hands-on approach to crafting products at Kakaw, including the making of filled truffles. On my visit, Chris had some samples of guava and mango filled dark chocolate bites, and my personal favorite, sea salt bites. Funnily enough, for me, there is such a thing as too much chocolate – so I held off on gobbling the bars that they generously provided me with, planning on sharing with the hungry staff at the office. (They better not be expecting Christmas gifts this year…)
Tia Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa (“Beatty’s Chocolate Cake”)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Kakaw cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (Use 1 tbsp vinegar, and add enough milk to add to 1 cup, let sit for 5 minutes then shake and use)
1/2 cup vegetable oil – (cut back to ¼ cup if using Kakaw cocoa powder)
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Maya Vanilla – a most delightful Belizean vanilla available in most stores and gift shops throughout the island)
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift and combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With a mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pans – filling two-thirds of the way. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean.
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