Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Importance of Making Chocolate, Part Two


Arcelia Gallardo is a F2F volunteer currently working in Panama with chocolate makers. To read Part One, click here.

I am leaving Panama very hopeful for the future of cacao and the Ngabe women group, Noba Balen. We were able to create some amazing, delicious, simple products using normal everyday ingredients. When people think about creating food and desserts with cacao, they can’t help but think of chocolate, but using the cacao nibs themselves or transforming existing popular recipes is also a great way to make sweets.

Two of the new recipes we made- Caramelo&Cacao and Popcorn&Nibs, were a way to take basic sweet recipes and convert them into a mature and sophisticated snack. Brittle is a common dessert both in Europe and the USA but it’s usually made with nuts; here we choose to use nibs. Caramelized popcorn is also a basic snack; corn, sugar, butter … and by adding cacao nibs we make it a bit more interesting.

We made the most popular chocolate of Brazil, brigadeiro, and the most famous sweet of all Latin America, rice pudding, or arroz con leche, but with added chocolate. The women had all made rice pudding before but they had never considered adding cacao to it.

Drinking hot chocolate is becoming increasingly popular, especially if it is natural and high in cocoa content. This is a product they should continue to have- I did very little to the recipe, but did change the look by having them use molds and different packaging. When you are standing anywhere in Panama you always see nature; I wanted to make sure this gift was translated in their packaging- we spent an entire day learning how to make flowers with palm leaves.

Having great products without any advertising is difficult; I created a Facebook for their group, https://www.facebook.com/NobaBalenChocolatesPanama, and uploaded their products and profile information. Now the entire world will have access to finding them and their products.

Graduation day came too soon for both the women and myself. There were many other things I wanted to show them and they wanted to continue learning. It was a great honor to have been able to work with the Ngabe women and learn about their culture. I look forward to seeing their progress, and maybe one day see their products at the International Chocolate Salons around the world.

The new look of Noba Balen is thanks is part to Dandelion Chocolate (www.DandelionChocolate.com), Neo Cocoa (www.neococoa.com), and Kika’s Treats (www.Kikastreats.com), who donated molds and boxes for this project.

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