Here in Togo, there are many “healers” selling concoctions of medications to cure anything from hernias to arthritis. There are herbs, elixirs, pomades and creams alike. All bottled and sold by the local “faith healer.” Although sodabi (local moonshine-palm wine) mixed with a certain bark, root or herb is known to be the choice “cure all” amongst the locals, I feel that with the right marketing tactics and promotional tag lines, I can convince them that eternal enlightenment and happiness lies in the very product they rush to get out of the country, cocoa. Why not make some of it available in the local market so you feel the lovin’ it brings to others around the world.
Although the majority of the health benefits of cocoa are found from noshing the raw, unprocessed nib (which I confirm is not that bad and although quite bitter, very stimulating)
Thus…the journey begins…from bean to bar (or bread in this matter)
I gathered the cacao beans from my farmers union, roasted them and then hulled to then take to the moulin (mill) for grinding down into a creamy paste. Since in previous attempts, I was unable to grind the beans down to the micron size of velvet chocolate liquor, I thought to give the good ole local mill a whirl. This method was much more efficient and it was wonderful that I was using local resources available to them. The chocolate beans went in the chute as the motor clamored away and out came a fudgy pulp in 5 minutes, for the bargain price of 20cents.
Taking cacao beans to a mill to be processed was not a common activity in my village. Rice, corn, peanuts and millet of course but cocoa beans? Since it's not part of the daily staple, they head straight to the port for export. Sight of this activity attracted a group of villagers who all began to comment on what I was doing. Most often in village, when you hear the word “yovo” (foreigner) sprinkled in conversations, esp. those in front of you, you know they are talking about you. I turned to my friend Yank and asked what all the gab was about and he began to recite their reactions to what I was doing. They were expressing sentiments on the fact that none of them have ever thought to figure out how to make chocolate from the cocoa bean. It’s the yovo who jumps in with curiosity and a desire to create that little delicacy unavailable in a land that produces the raw materials it is composed of. My desire to figure things out and make it for myself opened their eyes to intuition and experimentation.
2 small cans of sweetened condensed milk (1 ½ C)
honey ~ cayenne pepper~ vanilla ~(optional)
After the desired mixture was complete I sterilized glass jars and filled them with the piping hot sauce. I then capped them and they sealed shut upon cooling. I returned to village that evening with the “cacao detsi” to put my new product to the test. I cut up little bits of sweet bread and offered taste tests of the samples to the locals. (One was spiced up with cayenne and became the quick favorite to many.)
And…it was a hit! I had many takers and in just minutes the bread was gone and the jar licked clean. I made the calculation and found that after all the cost of ingredients and labor they could find 30-40% revenue on the sale if they targeted the tourist population as well as other addicted locals. Hopefully in a matter of time you’ll be buying “Dieu’s Cacao Detsi” from Togo.
Mia du nu ("eat with me")…Bon Appétit!
Note: It’s addictive, and since I still have some jars left I haven’t been able to stop taking a lick of the good stuff. I am high on antioxidant flavonoids! Ihave been in a good mood all day, even better when I found huge Mangos for sale…tis the season YO…ohh its heaven on earth here in Togo.
~Take note ladies and gents~
Antioxidants: Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas. In fact, it has up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea. Health benefits of these antioxidants include:
Promote cardiovascular health - Help dilate bloods vessels, reduce blood clotting, improve circulation, help regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Protect from environmental and metabolic toxins - Help repair and resist damage caused by free radicals, and may reduce risk of certain cancers.
Neurotransmitters: By increasing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains, cacao promotes positive outlook, facilitates rejuvenation and simply helps us feel good.
Serotonin - Cacao raises the level of serotonin in the brain; thus acts as an anti-depressant, helps reduce PMS systems, and promotes a sense of well-being.
Endorphins - Cacao stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles.
Phenylethylamine - Found in chocolate, phenylethylamine is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. Acts as mild mood elevator and anti-depressant, and helps increase focus and alertness.
Anandamide - Anandamide is known as the “bliss chemical” because it is released by the brain when we are feeling great. Cacao contains both N-acylethanolamines, believed to temporarily increase the levels of anandamide in the brain, and enzyme inhibitors that slow its breakdown. Promotes relaxation, and helps us feel good longer.
Essential Minerals: Cacao beans are rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.
Sulfur - Cacao is high in the beauty mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails and hair, promotes beautiful skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports healthy pancreas functioning.
Essential fats: There is a misperception that chocolate is fattening. In truth, the fats in cocoa butter are healthy fats. Cacao contains oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, also found in olive oil, which may raise good cholesterol. Also, substances found in cacao are known to help reduce appetite.
Important note- To fully benefit from chocolate’s wide array of nutrients, eat chocolate that is as close to its natural state as possible. Whole cacao beans and nibs are best. You lose many of the health benefits when you eat commercially produced chocolate.