Chocolate Like You've Never Seen Before

We all know chocolate, but what about where it’s coming from and how it’s used?

We love chocolate in the form of icing smeared onto the top of a cupcake, dissolved in a steaming cup of hot milk, and even coated around snacks like peanuts, raisins, and pretzels. It’s that sweet, more often than not, guilt-associated treat that many people peg with desserts and indulgent nibbles, but have we ever thought about where it’s from and how it’s used?

To get to the heart of chocolate’s role in the kitchen, it’s important to know its origin: cacao. A product of the bean from a cacao plant, cacao is of South American descent and is the primary and basic ingredient of chocolate. Cacao is used in many different ways and at different concentrations to produce the more commonly known forms of chocolate such as unsweetened, dark, milk, and white.

Taza Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate factory out of Somerville, Mass., is taking cacao and the production of chocolate to a whole new level. As the only producer of 100 percent stone ground chocolate, Taza is redefining the way we source and use chocolate, and reinventing its role in your kitchen.

Unlike many of our country’s chocolate producers who use steel refiners to ground cacao into chocolate, Taza uses the centuries-old Mexican chocolate making tradition of Oaxacan stone mills to craft their bold and flavorful chocolate. Everything from the roasting of cacao to the tempering and wrapping of their chocolate is all done by hand and in-house at Taza, so just like you pride yourself on that naturally raised chicken you roasted last night, Taza is making it possible to look at chocolate in that way as well.

Along with their sustainable chocolate-making practices, Taza prides themselves on their socially responsible methods of obtaining cacao from South America. Employing a Direct Trade program that sources high-quality cacao directly from small farms in the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Belize, Taza chocolate is proud of their efforts that have a positive effect on the community, industry, and welfare of their South American farmers. Their chocolate is minimally processed, certified USDA organic, and gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free.

While many of Taza’s products are meant to be enjoyed in the indulgent way that many of us think of when it comes to chocolate, they encourage out-of-the-box uses as well. A chocolate like Taza’s that is so intense in flavor should go a lot farther than a chocolate chip cookie, and they have some great recipes that utilize chocolate in many different ways beyond desserts. By adding depth to chile and some punch to a rib marinade, these recipes are packed with flavor and use chocolate in a way you’ve never seen before.

 

Citrus and Cacao Nib Salad Recipe

This recipe is a great play on the well-liked combination of chocolate and orange flavors. Refreshing and easy, it leaves plenty of room for substitutions and is a great addition to any summertime meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike's Taza Chocolate Chili Recipe

Great for a cooler summer evening, this rendition of chili is packed with intense, bold flavors from Taza's chili-flavored chocolates.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate-Filled Potstickers Recipe

Combining the foundations of Mexican and Asian cuisine, this savory version of potstickers is a great blend of flavors from the creamy avocado and spicy guajillo chili chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate-Chipotle Ribs Recipe

Ribs are always a favorite summertime dish, and this chocolatey version is and exciting recipe full of flavor with a cocao nib rub and chipotle chocolate barbecue sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce