What happens when a Belizean Mayan family starts taking the organic cacao beans from their farm and processing them with a stone tool that has been passed down for five generations?
You get simply the most luscious, healthy and astonishingly good chocolate in the whole world.
Welcome to Ixcacao Chocolate tucked away in the Toledo area of Belize.
I was first introduced to Ixcacao chocolate on one of Belize’s award winning tours, Taste Belize. These tours are run by local food anthropologist Lyra Spang, a homegrown native who spends her days seeking out these delicious little corners of the country to share with the rest of us who love to eat.
On our tour, owner Juan Cho met us upon arrival and proceeded to educate us about the process of growing and creating the highest quality chocolate. We also learned about the political climate of chocolate and why it’s important to support chocolate that’s fair trade.
While we learned, we tasted; hot chocolate, raw chocolate, roasted chocolate, flavored chocolate, chocolate nibs. I was in so much chocolate rapture I was already picking out my hammock, applying for a job and trying to convince Juan to adopt me so I could remain in this land of chocolate heaven indefinitely.
Then Juan pulled out the big guns – the family’s Mayan stone tool.
After demonstrating how to use the tool to grind the beans down to creamy yumminess, we each got a turn to try processing. A touch of sugar was added as we expertly transformed our mixture into the companies signature product with its golden ratio of 20% sugar 80% cacao.
And that’s all the ingredients their basic chocolate contains. There are no preservatives, no fillers, just pure fair trade awesomeness. Needless to say, everyone bought ample bars before leaving.
If this all sounds to good to be true or you’re thinking that I must be getting some sort of bribe under the table to be gushing this hard, let me assure you, my praise is all self motivated. This is the only Mayan chocolatier in the world and their products are in a word, extraordinary.
Here’s me in total Belizean bliss.
Find them on the web at www.ixcacaomayabelizeanchocolate.com
Find Taste Belize here: www.tastebelize.com
Brett Renee Stone is a managing partner and director of communications for Palm Reef Resort