Mayas and the divine cacao bean
The Mayas already knew about the cacao bean and its “divine” properties. They were convinced that this fruit was created by their God and so the cacao bean was reserved for the elite. This Mayan chocolate was only enjoyed at certain festivities. However, it bore little resemblance to today’s chocolate. On the one hand, the cacao bean was used as a spice for food and, on the other, for a cold unsweetened cacao drink. The foam formed during the production process was particularly pleasing to the Mayas’ palates.
How healthy is the cacao bean?
The cacao bean is said to have many positive properties, several of which are still unexplored. The well-known phrase “chocolate makes you happy” is just one:
- The many flavonols (antioxidants) enhance blood vessel elasticity and promote blood circulation. This can reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
- Cacao has a stimulating effect on the circulation and the central nervous system due to the theobromine and theophyline it contains.
- The consumption of cacao boosts digestion and has a positive effect on the intestinal flora.
- Cacao increases the feeling of satiety and reduces appetite.
Make your own chocolate
Making your own chocolate is easy. To make your own chocolate, you need raw cacao beans (from the health food store) and a powerful food processor. Weaker models cannot fully grind the beans.
We process the whole cacao bean as this gives the chocolate a unique taste – slightly bitter and less sweet. Depending on the roasting degree of the cacao beans, many of the more than 600 aromatic substances unfold.
- About 200g raw cacao beans
- 40g icing sugar (makes 80% chocolate)
- 10-20g cacao butter, optional
- Next: mould to pour in the chocolate mixture. Alternative: aluminium foil
- Time required 60 – 90 minutes
- Sort the cacao beans: use only whole and light-coloured beans.
- Preheat the oven to 110°.
- Place the cacao beans on a baking tray.
- Roast the cacao beans for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Turn them regularly. The time can vary depending on the oven.
You can also roast the cacao beans in a roasting pan, but it’s more difficult as the temperature can't be regulated precisely.
Note: this process needs fine judgement skills. Stay close to the oven during roasting so that the cacao beans aren't roasted for too long. As a guideline: when the skins can be easily removed and you notice an intense cacao smell, you can turn off the oven, take out the tray and let the beans cool down
For smaller quantities you can remove the skins by hand, although this takes a little time. If you want to make larger quantities of chocolate, you can break the beans and place them in a tall container. Take a hair dryer and blow away the shells (not indoors).
Grind the roasted cacao beans
- Put the beans and sugar in the food processor and run it on low speed first.
- The cacao beans consist mostly of fat. If necessary, push the mixture down with the help of a wooden spoon with the food processor switched off.
- Once the cacao is finely ground, the fat comes out (after about 5 minutes).
- Only now add the optional cacao butter.
- Process the mixture on a higher speed until it becomes runny.
- However, the mixture should not get too hot (over 65°). Take a short break now and again.
Duration approx. 10 minutes.
Tip: taste the mixture regularly and add more sugar if desired. If the mixture is still too grainy, continue mixing.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the mould
The chocolate is now liquid and warm. Pour the mixture into the mould directly after mixing. If you don't have any moulds, you can also pour the chocolate onto aluminium foil. Don’t forget to leave an edge. After the first cooling, the chocolate can be stored well sealed in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Creativity without end
You can add nuts, spices or milk powder to the chocolate. Just try out the new creations in small quantities first – making your own chocolate can be fun!
Ingredients: a handful of cacao beans
The first two steps are identical to making chocolate.
Grind the beans with a mortar until you get a grainy, pulpy mass. Add sugar and spices to taste and incorporate well. Pour over warm water or milk and stir until everything is well distributed.