Food of the Gods: Peruvian Chocolate
Chocolate is a Peruvian favourite. They truly love their chocolate and if you want to know more about Peruvian culture, it’s helpful to understand the significance of this beloved treat.
Whole Lotta History:
Peru has been producing cocoa since pre-Incan times for both medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The Spanish introduced new techniques that allowed Peruvian cacao to be exported, including processes such as roasting, grinding, and refining sugar from cane. In the 16th century Peruvian chocolate was shipped throughout Europe by Portuguese traders who had discovered Peru’s rich natural resources on the coast of Brazil.
Cacao comes from the word ‘cacahuatl’from the Nahuatl language used by the Aztecs. They also used the cacao seeds as currency, reflecting the importance of the crop in their culture. The Mayan and Aztecs used the cacao seeds to make a bitter drink that the Spanish Conquistadors appreciated.
The first chocolatiers in Peru were Dominican monks who brought with them an ancient recipe for making a drink called “chocolate”. Peruvian chocolate has a long history beginning in the pre-Colombian civilizations. Peruvians have been enjoying chocolate since their ancestors first discovered its delicious taste and health benefits. That’s why it has been passed down through generations. Peruvians are also known for drinking hot cocoa throughout the day which is another healthy Peruvian tradition. Peruvians have a rich culture surrounding chocolate and it is part of Peruvian identity which makes this delicious treat so unique to the Peruvian people.
Theobroma: Peruvian Chocolate Fit For The Gods!
Even in more recent times, Peruvians love their dark chocolate (like 70% Peruvian chocolate) and also enjoy drinking hot cocoa. A speciality in Peru which is made with spices like cinnamon, anise and lemon verbena leaves. Chocolate has become part of Peruvian culture in so many ways! For example, it is often given as gifts for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays. Peru’s love affair with chocolate continues to grow stronger and Peruvians are looking for new, innovative ways to produce the food.
Their culture has long been influenced by the importance of chocolate in their diets, with ancient Peruvians using it for medicinal purposes to cure ailments like anaemia or fatigue. Peruvian history demonstrates how important cocoa beans were in trade between Peru and other countries. Immigrants from Peru brought chocolate to the United States and Europe, where it has become a popular treat.
Since then, it has been incorporated incorporated into many aspects of Peruvian’s lives, including religion and festivals. The taste has been described as a unique blend of spices, that is difficult to find anywhere else. Peruvian chocolate has even been said to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with the treatment of allergies.
Peruvian chocolate is popular, it’s important to remember the history of cacao and Peruvians. While traditionally Peruvian chocolate was a drink made from ground cocoa beans mixed with water or milk, today Peruvian companies are making an effort to create high-quality dark chocolate bars as well. Peruvian chocolate is a healthy source of antioxidants due to the large amounts of polyphenols found in cocoa beans that are used to make Peruvian dark chocolates. Furthermore, Peruvians have been using cacao as medicine for centuries. In addition to being an antioxidant powerhouse, Peruvian chocolate can also help with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Peruvian dark chocolates are healthy due to the large amounts of polyphenols which will lead to an enhanced immune system. Peruvian chocolate is a delicious way to increase antioxidant intake!
FUN FACT – The Spanish conquistadors brought cocoa beans back to Europe and started sweetening the beverage with spices and sugar, the beverage became a status symbol consumed only by the wealthy and upper classes.
Peruvian Cacao & Chocolate
Peruvian cocoa beans are divided mainly into three categories: Trinitario, Forastero and Criollo cacao varieties. with Criollo being more prized than the the other two due to its superior flavour. Peruvian cacao has numerous flavour notes, all dependent on the bean. They can often be described as fruity, floral, nutty and caramelised, to name a few.
Much of of Peru’s cacao is sourced from independent, small family run farms who rely on a good crop to make a living. As such, these farmers often lack bargaining power to achieve a good price. This is why trading fairly is really important.Peru is the world’s ninth-largest cocoa producer, as well as one of the world’s largest organic producers!
Criollo is the most popular Peruvian cacao in the country. It has been nicknamed the King of Cocoa. These beans have a high-fat content, as well as a superior quality of flavour and aroma. The beans often have caramel, nutty, vanilla, and tobacco flavour notes. Criollo is a relatively rare bean and accounts for less than 5% of worldwide cacao production.
Criollo is what we use in our organic raw Peruvian chocolate. We just love the taste of this amazing little bean and the energy it gives us!
Here at Mr Popple’s Chocolate, we appreciate the amazing history behind Peruvian cacao and simply want this little bean to get the recognition it deserves!