Rosanna's Chocolate Adventure in Venezuela
The owner of Special Edition Chocolate, Rosanna, travelled to Venezuela to try and track down a small producer. She met this producer at a chocolate show in London seven years previously and wanted some of his chocolate to us here at Special Edition! Here is Rosanna’s story:
After a difficult few days travelling across Venezuela and staying in hostels, we eventually arrived at the small hacienda run by a mother and her son. Billy, the son, told me the story as to how they came to purchase the property. One day, whilst travelling around with his father, he came across a derelict property with 2 acres of unproductive neglected cocoa trees for sale. He then fell in love with the property and decided to buy it!
Billy has converted the buildings into a home for himself and his mother, along with 4 guest rooms. By utilising local labour, he taught his employees how to regenerate his little part of the rain forest, so it would once again make the cocoa trees productive.
Billy and his mother decided to produce enough beans for export, as well as enough to produce their own chocolate. Then, with all of his contacts in the tourist industry, Billy arranged coach trips, so people could taste and purchase their chocolate.
Since I worked in the chocolate industry, I was allowed to work with them to produce some chocolate. First, we harvested the pods from the trees by cutting them down. Next, we split them open, took the beans and spread them out in a nest of banana leaves. They were then left to ferment for 4-5 days. After this, the beans were transferred into direct sunlight to dry them out for another 3 days.
We then sieved the beans in an enormous riddle and roasted them in a large rotating oven. Oh the smell was amazing! The roasting dries and darkens the beans and brings out all the flavours. The beans were then cracked and winnowed. Finally, we added some sugar and vanilla, before putting the liquor through a series of steel rollers to refine it for up to 6 days.
The finished product can then be called ‘fine’ chocolate, it was like liquid velvet! One could ever guess that the finished product was ever a bean.