Journal

The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

 Where Did Chocolate Originate?

When many people think of the beginnings of chocolate, they imagine European chocolatiers with big white hats, lovingly stirring chocolate in a small charming cobblestone village. While Switzerland, France and Belgium are part of chocolate’s history; the origins of chocolate go back much further to Mesoamerica -where cacao was an integral part of not only cultural and spiritual practices but of the economy as a whole.

The first mention of cacao was in the Florentine Codex written by Spanish friar Bernardino Sahagún in 16th century. The Codex, also known as Historia General, is an ethnographic chronicle detailing the daily lives and practices of Mesoamerican society. Some historians refer to Friar Sahagún as one of the world’s first anthropologists. Thanks to his detailed accounts, we know exactly how chocolate was consumed.

According to the Aztec and Mayan, cacao was a sacred gift from the gods and was treated with the upmost reverence. There were parades honoring the god of cacao, which included drinking cacao as part of ceremonial practices. Even the word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl” which translates to “bitter drink.”

How Was it Consumed?

This bitter drink consisted of pure cacao and an array of spices mixed with water. So how did chocolate transform from this watery, bitter drink to the chocolate we know today?

It is said that the Spanish did not think the native Mayan spices would be marketable in Europe. So they decided to remove them and add sweeteners, and thickening agents like milk. The result is the European sipping chocolate and bars we are familiar with today.

What to Order for the Mayan Experience?

If you are interested in tasting an authentic drinking chocolate, come in to the shop and order a Mayan Tradition with water or a 100% cacao with water...if you dare. For those looking for more of a sweet treat, we have an array of chocolate drinks, and even the European-style sipping chocolates.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the origins of chocolate, we host AirBnb experiences that dive into chocolate’s rich history as well as the production of cacao and it's flavor profiles. Click here to find out more.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe

Summer time calls for lighter, colder desserts. Give this healthy alternative to ice cream a try, and let us know how it goes! 
 
Total Time: 5m
Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

  • flesh of 2 ripe avocados (240g)
  • ChocoVivo 75% bar (80g) 
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup milk of choice (60-120g)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • pinch stevia OR 2-6 tbsp sweetener of choice

* Top with your favorite nuts, cacao nibs, or fruit for added texture 

Instructions

Carefully melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Use less milk or milk substitute for a thicker mousse. Use sweetener of choice to taste. Note that the chocolate will already be sweet. If you're looking for a sugar free alternative try one of our Paleo Bars or Choco Vivo 100%

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

 
Imagine several bottles of wine, a spread of chocolates, and a group of friends gathered around a kitchen or dining table, all ready to enjoy a cozy evening together.
 
We’ve hosted several events just like this, where one of our chocolate-makers designs an adventure for the palate and guides a tasting in the home. The good news is that you can design your own, with a little wine knowledge and a little help from us here at ChocoVivo.

 

Step 1: The Wine List:

We recommend choosing your wines first because there can be such huge variation in the palates of different wines. Each chocolate could potentially pair with hundreds of wines of different varietals that happen to share a similar flavor note, but each wine may only have one or two chocolate mates.

 

We have paired chocolate with wines of all types before, but reds usually pair with chocolate the best, followed by whites then sparkling wines. Consider dessert wines, fortified wines, and other unique wines for a more interesting experience. Just keep in mind when choosing wines that chocolate is a big bold flavor, and it can easily overwhelm a very delicate wine.

 

Step 2: The Pairing

 This is where these events can become a little confusing, because it’s difficult to know how to pair wines without an in-depth knowledge of wine tasting. If you have trouble, feel free to stop by our store for a few pointers, and if you’ve decided the process is not for you, you can hand off the pairing to us for a small fee.

 Generally, if you have not yet tasted the wine, you can pull a description of the wine off of the winery’s website or from a review of the wine. Here’s a sample description for a wine we paired recently:
Lafage; Cotes du Roussillon Villages; South France; Grenache & Syrah; 2014
Lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was aged mostly in concrete tanks.

 

We paired this with our Shangri-La chocolate, which is a 55% dark chocolate with goji berries and black sesame. The fruity notes of the Lafage pair well with the sweetness of goji berries, and those olive notes add saltiness that pairs well with the nuttiness of black sesame.

Use your intuition- if two flavors sound good together, go ahead and pair them.

 

Step 3: The Style

Will your guests move at their own pace while chocolates and wine glasses are set out around the room, or will you lead a group and describe the pairings as you go? This depends on the number of people involved and the style of gathering you’re holding. For large groups at a party, a tasting room, with a more relaxed move-at-your-own-pace atmosphere, may work better than trying to pour tastings and pass out chocolates.With a more intimate group, pouring each tasting can be a moment when you can chat with each of your guests or guests can talk amongst themselves. Generally, a guided tasting is more formal because it requires that your guests are attentive and quiet as you describe the pairings.

Step 3: The Day Of Prep

On the day of, you’ll want to work out how you’re laying out or passing out the chocolate.
You can order our tasting pieces, which are cut into perfect squares, one week in advance, or you can come in and grab a few bars to break up at home. If you decide to buy bars, assume each bar is enough chocolate for about eight good-sized pieces. You’ll want to break up the bars in advance; we suggest setting the pieces on plates in your fridge and taking them out about ten minutes before the tasting.
A tasting of wine is usually about an ounce, so a tasting flight of five is equivalent to drinking one moderately sized glass of wine. To learn how to eyeball that amount, take a wine glass and pour in two tablespoons of water. Because only two or three sips are needed to taste the wine, a bottle of wine is enough for about twenty tastings. Much of the time, guests will want to go back and have a glass of their favorite wine, so make sure to get an extra bottle (or two!) of each pairing wine just for that purpose.
Once you’ve set up your tasting area, make sure you have your wines ready at the correct temperature and enough plates and glasses to serve all your guests before they arrive.

The Tasting:

When you start the tasting, feel free to explain why you’ve paired each chocolate with each wine, tell people to keep in mind the major pairing notes, or let people try the pairings and guess why they were paired. This part is entirely up to you!
Our only recommendation here is that your guests take a sip of their wine and then taste the paired chocolate. Flavor is only detected in liquid, which is why our mouths have saliva. You can’t taste dry flavors in a dry mouth, so a sip of wine before tasting the chocolate helps you taste more of the flavors in the chocolate.
You also may want to warn guests that trying wines with a chocolate that they’re not paired with can result in some combinations that make the wine and chocolate seem really metallic, sharp or otherwise unappetizing.

Share with Us:

You now have all of the information to get started on your home tasting! Let us know how it goes by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook. 

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

Chocolate + Coffee : Health Food?

  

Neither chocolate nor coffee is considered particularly healthy, but many recent studies support that both coffee and chocolate can actually be very beneficial to your health. Why has scientific opinion changed on these common treats?   

Drinking your coffee with milk and sugar turns coffee from a calorie-free antioxidant drink to a sugar-filled sweet treat. Because of this, the benefits of coffee have been obscured for years! In fact, many scientists now say that drinking black coffee is very good for you- and is perhaps the best way to get all the health benefits of coffee.   Black coffee (up to two cups a day) has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects in the human body. Coffee drinking is even linked to lower mortality, obesity, and depression rates, while other promising research suggests that coffee consumption can even postpone the onset of neurodegenerative disorders like MS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

 

 

Coffee is good for you, but chocolate is truly a superfood. Chocolate’s fatty acids modify LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and its many polyphenols increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol when consumed regularly, and the benefits increase as chocolate gets darker. Regular dark chocolate consumption also results in lowered blood pressure, leading to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Pure cacao is also one of the strongest antioxidants in the world, ahead of acai and blueberries, and is high in omega-6 fatty acids, like those found in olive oil. Chocolate is also a huge mood booster, and regular dark chocolate eaters even have lower rates of depression than the general public!

Chocolate also gives many of the known benefits of coffee because it contains trace mounts of caffeine as well as larger amounts of theobromine, a byproduct of caffeine metabolism. So, when you break off a piece of your favorite dark chocolate, you’re getting all of the antioxidant and heart-protective power of chocolate along with some of the alertness and anti-carcinogenic powers of caffeine. 

 

  

At Chocovivo, we only serve dark chocolate with no added binding agents- which means our chocolate is purer and better for your body.  And, because we serve both chocolate and coffee, you can get the health benefits, mood boost, and increased alertness of coffee and chocolate all in one place!

 

Paleo Cacao Bite Recipe

Paleo Cacao Bite Recipe

 

Sometimes we are craving all the richness of a dense chocolate brownie or torte, but without the heaviness of full butter or gluten. Enter these little Paleo Cacao Bites!
We found this recipe in the May issue of Bon Appetit and couldn't resist! Now that is it Spring we are in search of lighter versions of our favorite treats. Let us know if you have a recipe using ChocoVivo chocolate you'd like us to feature! 

 

Ingredients

MAKES 18

  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted, cooled, plus more for pan
  • 3 tablespoons ChocoVivo cacao nibs
  • 5 ounces pitted Medjool dates (about 8)
  • ½ cup nut butter ( Cacao Butter for extra flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons ground chia seeds, ground flaxseed, and/or ground hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or meal (we use hazelnut meal) 
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Flaky sea salt

Preparation

Brush an 8½x4½" loaf pan with oil; line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on long sides. Pulse cacao nibs in a food processor to a fine powder; transfer to a bowl.

Place dates in a small heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over to submerge. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Drain dates and transfer to food processor. Add nut butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; process in long pulses until dates disintegrate and ingredients come together (mixture will be crumbly). Add seeds, kosher salt, and cinnamon; pulse to incorporate. Add almond flour, ground cacao nibs, and shredded coconut and pulse just to combine. Press into prepared pan in an even layer, compacting as firmly as possible (it will look slightly greasy, but oils will solidify once mixture is cold). Cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Uncover and use sides of parchment paper to lift bar out of pan. Cut into a 6x3 grid to form squares; sprinkle with sea salt.

Do Ahead: Energy bites can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 2 weeks.


Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit May 2017

Coffee Mocktails featuring Cacao Bitters - House Roots Coffee preview event

Coffee Mocktails featuring Cacao Bitters - House Roots Coffee preview event

Coffee and Chocolate have a lot in common and when specialty coffee shop House Roots Coffee in the San Fernando Valley heard about our Cacao Bitters they thought it would work perfectly with the coffee and tea mocktail program that they were working on (read about House Roots' mocktails in Food & Wine).

House Roots Coffee Cocktail Menu - Preview Night


They started working with our chocolate bitters and at a recent preview event, that coincided with Valentines Day, they did an evening of mocktails paired with a trio of our chocolates. 75% Cacao (the evening’s favorite), Cherries + Almonds + Black Peppercorns (paired best with the Old Fashioned), and Coffee and Vanilla (of course! it’s a coffee shop).

 

Blood Orange Espresso Old Fashioned


In the Blood Orange Espresso Old Fashioned, the espresso (replacing the bourbon in the traditional Old Fashioned) really gives the drink a complex flavor profile and the addition of the Cacao Bitters along with the blood orange juice accentuate that. Our Cherries Almonds Black Peppercorns bar really paired well with this delicious drink.

 

Blood Orange Tea Manhattan


The Blood Orange Tea Manhattan is made with a fruity caffeine free tea and the addition of our Cacao Bitters gave the drink a nice subtle chocolate tone. Very refreshing and sure to be a favorite on the upcoming menu.

House Roots Cocktail Preview Event

The evening was very well received. All who attended had an enjoyable time and several commented that they had a new appreciation for pure, minimally processed, and minimal ingredient chocolates.

These drinks will be part of the specialty evening drinks menu that they are going to introduce later this month. If you are in The Valley and looking for a great cup of coffee or an espresso any time of day, or a special chocolate inspired mocktail later in the day, please be sure to check out the folks at House Roots. We look forward to doing more with them in the future.

House Roots Coffee
16155 San Fernando Mission Blvd
Granada Hills, CA 91344

Recipe: Blood Orange Tea Manhattan - courtesy of House Roots Coffee

2 parts blood orange tea, chilled
2 parts blood orange juice, with pulp
(If blood orange iced tea or juice isn't available, use your favorite fruity tea and juice)
1 part lemonade
Cacao Bitters to taste (about 2-3 drops to full eye dropper per cup)
Rim a chilled glass with Chocolate Dust
Optional: garnish with mint

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour into a chilled glass.

Click Here to get your Cacao Bitters
and Here to get Chocolate Dust

 

Stay tuned for more information about how Chocolate and Coffee have so many parallels, working so well together. Sign up for our newsletter below (lower right on this page).  

Hemp Cacao Butter

Hemp Cacao Butter

Hemp, what's the hype?

 Our hemp cacao butter is a great snack option for those who want the protein and smoothness of nut butter, but without nuts. While we like to think of it as a nut milk or nut allergy alternative, hemp has numerous benefits beyond that. For some cultures it has been a diet staple for centuries, using both the seeds and oil as a dietary supplement to aid in digestion, provide essential nutrition, and even alleviate symptoms associated with PMS!  

To make our butters, we grind raw cacao nibs in with the hemp seeds, so you're getting the real deal. No powders, no filler oils. Just nibs, hemp seeds, and a bit of organic cane sugar. If you need some convincing to try this flavor, see the benefits below. 

Health Benefits of Hemp: 

  • With 20 amino acids, hemp seeds are one of the few plant-based complete proteins
  • Rich in essential fatty acids, including Omega’s 3, and 6
  • High amounts of Vitamin E
  • High in fiber

ChocoVivo Hemp Sampler 

At ChocoVivo we incorporate hemp into more than just our butters. We have a hemp milk option for hot chocolates, as well as a seasonal bar: Pineapple, Hemp and Coconut. If you're not familiar with the flavor, come in and ask for our Hemp Sampler! 

How to use Unsweetened Cacao Butter

How to use Unsweetened Cacao Butter

 Rethink How You've Been Eating Chocolate 

 Chocolate doesn’t always have to be sweet. In fact, the earliest versions of drinking chocolate were far from it, and used for more of a medicinal, energizing purpose. Holding true to its original uses, at ChocoVivo we incorporate chocolate in ways everyone can enjoy, as fuel not just candy.

Some may be turned off by the idea of 100% cacao. But, you’d be surprised by how luscious, rich, and smooth it can be when combined with hazelnut butter. Calling all who subscribe to that sugar-free, paleo, whole 30 lifestyle! Meet Unsweetened Hazelnut Cacao Butter, your new best friend.

Our unsweetened butters are a combo of raw cacao nibs and high quality nuts. Add a little dash of sea salt, grind together and you’ve got the best complement for fruit, a rice cake, or something warm and savory. Hazelnut butter is a classic, but we also play with seasonal flavors such as Unsweetened Salted Pecan Butter, and Unsweetened Black Sesame. 

Our team has been experimenting lately with curries, sauces, and dishes that incorporate nut butters. If you are a fan of Thai peanut sauce, here is our chocolate variation!

  

ChocoVivo Thai Sauce:

This sauce makes 2 to 3 servings and can be used on a salad as dressing or in curry. Just add water to thin out if needed.

 

Blend:

1 1-inch piece of ginger

1 small garlic clove

½ cup unsweetened hazelnut butter

2 tablespoons of reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional and can be subbed)

 crushed red pepper flakes to taste 

 

 Share your Recipes: 

Sub any of your favorite recipes that call for nut butters, and let us know how it goes. If you’ve got a recipe you’d like to share please send us an e-mail and we’ve love to feature it!

Health Benefits of Cacao Almond Butter

Health Benefits of Cacao Almond Butter

What is your deserted island food?

Do you remember this road trip game? The scenario: you are sent to a deserted island and you can only bring ONE food item, what would it be? My go to answer for this has ALWAYS been a chocolate peanut butter cup. Since I was young I would rationalize to my friends, “well, the chocolate would give me some energy, the peanut butter some protein.” It sounds legit enough, right?

Cacao Confusion:

Twenty years ago, the option I was vehemently defending would have been a Reese’s. I am well aware now, that taking candy as my only food source sounds great when you are five, but completely ridiculous in 2017. While there are many options today on the market considered “healthy” combos of nut butter and chocolate, many of them are no better than a Reese’s when it comes to added sugars, mystery oils, and lack of nutritional substance. 

 

Nutella not only has palm oil, which studies find could raise inflammation, but 23 grams of sugar per serving! Look into "healthy" variations out there and you'll notice few stray from this formula. 

Why is it that two foods, with proven health benefits, nuts and cacao often end up in a slurry of additives? Lets review for a second… 

 

Cacao Benefits: 

  •  Vitamins: A, B, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, C, D, E 
  • Minerals: Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc
  • Antioxidants: twice the amount of red wine 
  • Lowers cortisol and increases serotonin 
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases blood flow to the brain increasing cognitive functioning, focus

Almond Benefits:

  • Vegan protein source
  • Lowers LDL, bad cholesterol
  •  Positively affects insulin sensitivity 

 

 Cacao Almond Butter: Best of Both Worlds 

Much to the delight of my inner child, it is very possible to combine these two ingredients in a simple way, and we do it at ChocoVivo. In our Almond Butter, the only ingredients are Raw Cacao Nibs, Almonds, and Organic Cane Sugar. That’s it. With 5 grams of sugar per serving, this is a treat you can justify and enjoy.

Due to the natural oils, our butters are very similar to the all-natural nut butters you purchase at the grocery. They will separate, so you’ll need to stir, or warm up before using. They can be stored for up to six months at room temperature, but if you are like me, they won’t last that long!

There is no reason to cut out the delicious duo of chocolate and nuts. In their purest form, they can sustain you when you need an energy fix, post workout, or between meals.

 

Stay tuned for more ChocoVivo Combos

In the next few blog posts, I’ll be highlighting the ingredients of all of our nut butters, convenient ways to use them and recipes. Plus, a preview of new products we will be launching soon!