Chocolate making

told by Emma and Jack (visiting graduates from Cambridge University)

As one of the world’s greatest chocoholics, one of my biggest fears before coming to the rainforest for three months was that I would not be able to cope with the lack of chocolate. Luckily, a few days before Easter we stumbled across some ripe cacao pods when walking in the forest. With such perfect timing, we couldn’t pass up on the chance to try making our own chocolate from scratch.

Our cacao pods were small and we only had a dozen or so, but we were hoping for at least one square of chocolate by the end! We started by scooping the beans out from the pods. At this stage, the beans themselves taste very bitter, but the pulp around the beans is sweet. After a lot of google searches to try and find some reliable guides to preparing the beans, we left the beans to ferment for 4 days, until they began to smell like brewing alcohol.

The next step was to let the beans dry, and after 5 days they looked much dryer and smaller. Now, over a week after we had picked the beans, we were finally ready to actually make some chocolate! Roasting the beans released a delicious chocolatey smell, but sadly we were too busy enjoying it to remove the beans before they began to burn! We decided to press on with what we had, and removed the cacao nibs inside the beans by hand. These were then ground to make cocoa powder; finally bringing us to familiar territory!

The cocoa powder definitely retained a charred taste to it which was a shame as the three squares of chocolate we managed to extract looked lovely. However, we’ve already located and started to ferment a second batch of cacao pods so this time we’ll no doubt be assured of a delicious result!


Simon Mezzanotte