The cacao plant, which is indigenous to Central and South America, produces a multihued pod. It’s now grown in equatorial zones around the world.
The three main categories of beans are criollo, forastero and trinitario, with a plethora of subspecies and clonal variations.
Criollos, highest in grade, are produced in small quantities because they are delicate and more susceptible to disease. But they’re sought after for their complexity and powerful fruitiness by top chocolate makers.
The hybrid trinitario, named for the place it originated, Trinidad, combines many of the flavor characteristics of criollo with the heartiness of forastero. Some trinitario species are as prized as the finest criollos, and top-shelf chocolates such as Carenero Superior and Rio Caribe are made exclusively from high quality trinitario beans.
Reviews sites such as Seventy Percent and Eric’s Chocolate Reviews rate dark chocolate bars with 70% or more cocoa content — this allows the full appreciation of taste of the chocolate itself. The highest rated bars are made by Domori, Amedei, Michel Cluizel, Valrhona, El Rey and California-based Scharffen Berger.
“The holy grail of pure criollos” is the white porcelana bean, writes Maricel Presilla in her book The New Taste of Chocolate, a new and excellent resource book on chocolate.
The chocolate mentioned here is available from: Chocosphere.Com