Posted on April 18 2016
When I moved to Brazil last year I thought I would import cacao from Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Belize; my preferred countries for cacao. After some research I realized I was going to fail tremendously because Brazil protects its cacao furiously and makes it impossible to import. Luckily, Brazil has a lot of cacao to keep me busy for a while. This is the story of my 70% Fazenda Venturosa bar.
Brazil has two big chocolate and cacao festivals per year, one in the north in Pará and the other on the eastern coast in Bahia. My choco colleague, Greg, the cacao sourcer-er for Dandelion Chocolate, was going to speak at the Bahia chocolate festivals and many cacao farmers wanted him to visit their farms and taste their beans. Since I learned to make chocolate at Dandelion, and I lived in São Paulo, we arranged for all the farmers to send me their cacao samples and I would make the chocolate and have it ready for Greg to taste when he arrived in Brazil .
Of all the samples we tasted and farms we visited, Fazenda Venturosa stood out. I chose to start with this farm because they have an entire area dedicated to growing the popular Brazilian variety; Pará Parazinho. It's a very small forastero, the smallest I have seen and it is the first type of cacao that was planted in Bahia; brought from the state of Pará. It's quite rare to find a farm that can process only one type of cacao; most process many types together. As the world of chocolate shifts and goes to the next level I think that terroir and genetics are going to play a huge role. Blending different beans has been the dominating trend for the last few hundred years and I think going forward, as far as craft chocolate, this is the next phase: making chocolate from single varieties and single farms.
The parazinho cacao is small, round, fairly smooth, and yellow when ripe. Below is the parazinho next to a 'normal' sized cacao that is common throughout Latin America. The red bumpy cacao is not particularly a large cacao but it seems like it next to the parazinho.
The 900 hectar farm is owned by Jim and Lola, a wife/husband team. Jim is originally from Texas, USA and Lola from the region. They are full of energy and passionate for their cacao, their land and getting their product to the right makers. They live on site with the 25 families that help manage the land and process the cacao.
One of the amazing perks of being a chocolate maker is you get to travel with other chocolate makers to visit farms. Here I am with two other chocolate makers in the fermentation house; on either side you can see the fermentation boxes. We cracked open some cacao pods to taste the fruit. I also found some bananas.
This is the room where they store their dried beans. The room smelled great! A great sign of the quality of the cacao.
And these are the bags that I placed in my suitcase and brought with me to São Paulo. I was only charged $20usd for the excess weight!
Once I arrived to São Paulo I created several test batches and decided on 2 types; 70% dark chocolate and a goat's milk dark chocolate. Since I learned to make bean to bar chocolate at Dandelion Chocolate, I always like to start with a a 70% bar, which is their tradition. And the goat's milk dark chocolate? I have been eating goat's milk caramel my entire life; I thought this would be a fun way to enjoy a different type of milk chocolate.
I work with micro-batches which means 1 kilo at a time and hand temper on a marble table top. I produce a small amount of chocolate and it is all 100% traceable and sourced with care. In the USA you can find my bars at Roni-Sue's Chocolates in NYC and in Brazil you can email me directly.
To contact Fazenda Venturosa: firstname.lastname@example.org