Earlier this year, Richard and I made chocolate from scratch for the first time. At the time, we had no idea that this process would become an integral part of our lives. At the time, we were pretending to be scientists with a bag of cocoa beans.
Allow me to start from the beginning. Over July 4th weekend in 2013, Richard and I drove from home in the San Francisco Bay Area, down to Los Angeles to visit with friends. One of our first stops in the city of angels was the Grand Central Market, where we began the search for homemade mole. Ever since my summer abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, with Adelante Abroad, I’ve been a huge fan of mole, the traditional southern Mexican chocolaty-chili sauce, originating in Puebla. And it’s just not the same when it comes in a jar from the grocery store. What better place to find it than a mostly Latino market?
I loved chatting with the women running the stands in the market about where mole came from and its journey to the US. As you may experience if you have learned a second language, anything is more fun when discussed in that language. For me, that language is Spanish. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about my one of my favorite foods or paint drying, I enjoy the challenge of identifying the right words and grammar to communicate.
Anyway, we found a wide range of moles, each one more delicious than the one before. Even more exciting than the mole, and more relevant to the rest of this blog, were the cocoa beans we discovered at the same stall. The small brown beans looked like smooth, rounded almonds, but smelled like musky chocolate. With a surge of adventurousness and just the right mix of uncertainty and challenge, we picked up a kilo of the beans and brought them back to the Bay Area with us.
After watching a few how-to videos, including our favorite which included such scientific precision we felt totally confident making an attempt ourselves, we got started with our first chocolate creation. I’ll go into the details of how to make chocolate at home in another post, but let’s just say that it was so much easier than we expected! Granted, our result didn’t taste like the perfection found in bars made from fine flavor chocolate gurus like Tcho, Guittard, or Dandelion Chocolate. Ours was more grainy, bitter, and didn’t quite snap into pieces like professionally-made chocolate. That said, our homemade chocolate tasted somewhat like what we had previously known as chocolate!
Our revelation was complete when friends tasted our first batch and actually liked it. Now, we think they may have been exaggerating their affinity for our “interesting” chocolate, since they’ve since informed us of how much our chocolate has improved since that first batch, but as entrepreneurs with our inflated sense of optimism and self-efficacy, we believed their initial enthusiasm. And that has propelled us forward.
Now, we make chocolate multiple times a week and are constantly improving our recipe, strategy, and sources. Keep reading to learn about our new ideas, our failures, and our adventures into the roots of the chocolate – the beans, the farmers, and the process.
I promise to be open and honest as we learn, fail, and try again. And I promise to share our intentions, struggles, and successes. Join us on our chocolate journey, taking us back to the roots of chocolate, where the beans, the farmers, and every step of the process matters. To stay up to date, follow us through WordPress, let us know what you think by commenting on a post, or send us a note on our Contact page.