Where does chocolate come from?
Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao fruit, which grows on Theobroma cacao trees in the jungles of Central and South America, Africa, and South East Asia. After being harvested, cacao seeds are fermented to increase their flavor, dried, and then roasted or kept in their raw form. The beans are then crushed into nibs, further crushed and mixed until paste is formed, or separated into butter and powder. Whether roasted or raw, the nibs, paste, butter, and powder can be used to make various chocolate confections.
Raw Cacao vs Roasted Cocoa
When my sister and I first started Nama Kiss, we passionately believed that raw cacao was infinitely superior to roasted cocoa based on what we learned mostly from popular media. In the years since, we have delved deeper into nutritional science, and this has caused us to adjust our staunch stance. While studying for my master’s degree in Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University here in Boston, I worked for one year in the Energy Metabolism Lab at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. One of our projects was to design an antioxidant rich malnutrition bar for children in Africa. Due to the nutritional value in cacao, we wanted to be sure it was included in the bar. The question was, which cacao would provide the highest levels of antioxidants for the children? We had 3 organic cacao powders tested for polyphenol content, 2 raw and 1 lightly toasted. I was certain the raw cacao would prove to be nutritionally superior, so imagine my surprise when the toasted variety, sourced from Peru, came back the winner. It isn’t clear if it’s the roasting process itself, the soil quality in Peru, or other environmental factors (or a combination of these) that are behind the higher antioxidant activity in the cacao. What we do know is that food-based antioxidants are tiny powerhouses that support health and longevity.
In addition to antioxidants, cacao contains several essential minerals, such as magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Minerals are not destroyed by heat, so the full spectrum should be available in both raw and roasted cacao. It doesn’t hurt that cacao in any form is a natural aphrodisiac and contains theobromine (gentle stimulant), tryptophan (precursor to serotonin), anandamide (the bliss chemical), and PEA (the love chemical)!
At Nama Kiss, we do use raw ingredients whenever possible. However, we have found over the years that a fully raw product is less valuable to most consumers than a health-conscious one. We are doing our part to fight the battle society is currently dealing with: a food supply ridden with chemicals and overly processed sugars, fats, and grains. Our mission is to produce crazy delicious desserts that are made from organic, ethically sourced ingredients and are free of processed sugar, soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, additives, and preservatives.
We hope you agree that Nama Kiss sweets are some of the most delicious and unique chocolates in the world!