Dominican Cacao and Chocolate

Dominican Cacao and Chocolate

In celebration of World Chocolate Day on July 7.

The Dominican Republic is well-known for exporting goods like rum, bananas and coffee. But did you know that chocolate giants Lindt, Guylan, Valrhona and Nestle all use Dominican cocoa in their products?

In 2015, Dominican exported cacao brought in US $261 million, ensuring the country’s spot as one of the leading exporters of organic products in the world.

Some international chocolate brands are now choosing to partner with small farms in the Caribbean so they can experiment with the whole process of making chocolate, bean to bar. They want to create new flavour sensations and tinker with methods to discover new ways of making great chocolate.

Apparently, when the cacao plant is grown in the shade of other plants, the beans take on hints of the fruits around it. It’s a natural way to experiment with flavours. As you can imagine, it’s popular with the organic, pesticide- and fertiliser-free market.

Chocolatiers are keen to control how the cocoa beans are processed at small-scale farms. The rate at which the beans are oxidised and fermented affects the flavour profile of the final product.

From Cabarete, you can take a fun day trip to learn all about chocolate at one such farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda near San Francisco de Macoris. It’s a two-hour drive from eXtreme, heading eastwards and inland.

The El Sendero del Cacao tour is a family-friendly tour of the cocoa farm and chocolate factory. Touring the farm, you’ll learn about how the pods are harvested and split, and then how the beans are extracted, fermented and dried.

In the factory, you’ll see how the bitter cocoa beans are transformed into chocolate delights! You may even have the chance to make your very own chocolate bar.

There is also a cocoa plantation in Santo Domingo where you can be schooled in the art of the chocolatier. There are various artisanal chocolate shops where you can experience the variety and rich flavours of Dominican chocolate.

There is a growing artisanal chocolate movement in the Dominican Republic, with the increasing demand from international consumers for ethically and sustainably produced organic goods.

But, Dominicans are more commonly seen sipping creamy hot chocolate for breakfast than snacking on a solid bar. The Caribbean heat makes it difficult and expensive to produce and store chocolate. It melts!

Instead, on your vacation, why not indulge in a Dominican treat. Traditional hot chocolate is made with unsweetened chocolate blocks, evaporated milk, sugar, and spices like cinnamon and ginger. It is a truly magical way to enjoy the fruit of the cacao plant.

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