Ahhhhh, Cacao

18 May

I’ve never been that into chocolate. I know, I know–this is heresy to some. It’s just that I find artificially flavored, sour, gummy candy far more alluring. A peanut butter cup here, a Milk Dud there, and I’m good to go on the chocolate front. An entire bag of Sour Patch Watermelons? Gone in 20 minutes.

My mom loves to tell people about the time I sucked so many sugar-coated sour candy strips that my tongue bled. My brother called me last week solely because he was in a candy store, and therefore, thought of me. No such phone call has ever been spawned by the sight of a chocolate bar.

Mexican Drinking Chocolate

Hot chocolate, however, is a totally different story. With marshmallows, whipped cream, or au natural… hot chocolate is my jam. Not that crap from Starbucks. (Attention Starbucks: If you are reading, be assured I love absolutely everything else about you.) What I’m talking about is that real, authentic, one-of-a-kind hot chocolate: Swiss Miss. Mmmmm. (Just when the hipsters are loving my Starbucks bashing, I go and blindside them with Swiss Miss love!)

Never fear, cocoa purists, my taste in the hot stuff made a dramatic turn this spring. A week after my parents visited Playa del Carmen in March, I received a package in the mail containing something for which chocolate enthusiasts can only stand up and cheer:           Ah Cacao Real Chocolate.

Ah Cacao, based out of Playa del Carmen, started as an MBA project.  Irishman Rohan Barnett and his Mexican wife, Monica, were inspired by their visit to a cacao plantation while backpacking in Mexico. Barnett soon drew up a business plan, and with little money and no experience in the culinary industry, ventured into the world of chocolate-making. Ah Cacao’s chocolate is made from criollo beans grown in Tabasco and Chiapas. The beans are harvested, fermented, dried, slightly roasted, and then ground into a fine powder.

Bean Harvesting

By the time the cacao reached me, it was formed into delicious rounds of chocolatey, cinnamony goodness. You could simply eat the stuff, but I did something much, much better. I made Mexican drinking chocolate. Suffice it to say, this stuff kicks some Swiss Miss ass.

So buy some. Or if you can afford it, hop on a plane to Playa del Carmen and visit the Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe, where you can witness some ridiculously rad latte art (see below). If you get ahold of some Mexican drinking chocolate (other brands are available in gourmet grocery stores here in the States), here’s a simple recipe for preparing your mug of happiness.

Ah Cacao Chocolate Mexicano (Drinking Chocolate)

For every serving use:
2-4 segments of a chocolate tablet
1 cup of milk or water

Heat the milk or water in a pan until the first bubble pops. Remove from heat. Using a molinillo* or whisk beat in the chocolate until completely dissolved. Heat again until a froth begins to rise. Remove from the heat and beat a second time. Half-fill each cup then beat the remaining chocolate until frothy. Add the remaining foamed chocolate to each cup.

Your drinking chocolate can be spiced up by adding any of the following ingredients during the heating phase: Real Vanilla Extract or Bean, Orange or Lime Zest, Honey, Chile Pasilla, Nutmeg.

* A Molinillo (available in Ah Cacao stores) is a wooden chocolate whisk which is rotated by rubbing the staff between the palms of the hand.

Ah Cacao makes fantastic snacking chocolate and a number of other goodies. Oh, and they make skin care products to boot!



9 Responses to “Ahhhhh, Cacao”

  1. Connie May 19, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    FYI, Lauren also loves Twizzlers!

    • Cheekie May 19, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      I believe Dad is the one who loves Twizzlers… (I do like those rainbow ones, though)

  2. Deb Y May 19, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    That is the most adorable hot chocolate I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I could drink it!

    • Cheekie May 19, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      Isn’t it, though?! I’m also a fan of this one: Turkey

      • Deb Y May 20, 2011 at 8:10 am #

        Super cool! Where do you find this stuff?

      • Cheekie May 20, 2011 at 8:36 am #

        Where can you find the chocolate? Go here and email them and they’ll send you a product catalog. Or were you asking where I find stuff to post? I haven’t had enough coffee this morning…

      • Deb Y May 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

        I was asking specifically about the chocolate. 🙂 But now that you mention it …

  3. Cathy May 20, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Ahhhhh……Cacao! One of my favorite places. Great coffee, chocolate, churros, and some of the best brownies ever.
    They always do beautiful latte art. Love Playa, Love AH CACAO!

    • Cheekie May 20, 2011 at 8:38 am #

      Cathy, I just received word about Ah Cacao’s “best brownies ever” from my sister-in-law yesterday! She returned from her honeymoon in Playa raving about the brownies. I’ll have to try one pronto!

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