With the opening of The Chocolate Story in Porto’s World of Wine complex, Relish Portugal sat down with Chef and Chocolate Master (Mestre de Chocolate) Pedro Martins Araújo to learn more about the most well-loved sweet in the world and his artisan passion, Vinte Vinte Chocolate.
Relish Portugal: How did chocolate become your focus?
Chocolate Master Araújo: I like to say that chocolate chose me. It’s no surprise that chefs are passionate about raw ingredients and in cacao I found the perfect ingredient. Cacao is complex with a depth of flavour and possibility. Culturally, it’s revered as something holy in Mexico and Guatemala where it’s enjoyed from a young age as a beverage.
When I found an ingredient with this level of sophistication and the relationship with humankind and began tasting it, finding that it is so complex aromatically, I knew I’d found my holy grail.
RP: Your chocolate bar brand is Vinte Vinte or Twenty Twenty. As in perfect vision?
CMA: Interesting but no. Vinte Vinte is a formal homage to the parallels of the Cacao Belt. It’s a tribute to the countries that produce some of the finest cacao, grown on the latitude position of 20°N and 20°S of the equator. This is the most ideal environmental condition for the cacao tree to develop and bear fruit, but more importantly, produce fruit of the best quality.
Our chocolate is made using a bean-to-bar process. We get cacao from all over the world, some I choose personally. I recently travelled to Nicaraguan, Mexican, and Guatemalan farms in search of the finest flavor and highest quality cacao.
RP: What should people look for when choosing chocolate?
CMA: People have a fixed idea about chocolate. In reality, chocolate can be many different diverse flavors. As you’d expect, industrial chocolate is extremely different than Vinte Vinte’s bean-to-bar product. Why? That pre-made, bulk mass used in industrial chocolate has no flavor or aroma at all. The beans are roasted at high temperatures requiring them to use a lot of vanilla to disguise what’s missing. Every single time a person tastes bean-to-bar chocolate it is a taste sensation. The flavour is so special they never forget their first taste of bean-to-bar chocolate. Remarkable.
Which chocolate should they have? The advice I give is for people to understand artisan chocolate will be memorable, different than what they’ve perhaps tasted in the past. I encourage them to discover the flavour profiles that they enjoy the most and experiment.
RP: What’s your favorite chocolate?
CMA: I choose my chocolate by the feeling it gives me. Look, I’ve tasted thousands of chocolates throughout my life. I’m not a benchmark. That being said, I’m always looking for chocolate with “corners”—looking for an effect, nothing boring. I like acidic chocolate. That could be 50% or 100% cacao content. Primarily, I’m looking for flavor and aroma. Interestingly, terroir—the same concept of place of origin as used when tasting fine wine—is usually 50% of the flavour.
RP: I’m sorry, let’s back up, you’ve tasted thousands of chocolates?
CMA: Right, thousands. But remember, I’ve been doing this for many years. In my experience, developing a roasting profile is critical. I have seven bean-to-bar chocolates in the Vinte Vinte line. It took me nearly 400 lab trials to develop those seven distinctive chocolates. Cacao begins to lose its magical compounds as it’s roasted close to and above 150°C degrees. You have to test and test and test to see which aromas to keep and which to lose. If you roast too high it will taste burned, too low it’ll taste like raw cacao. Each step in the chocolate-making process is important, but roasting is the most essential.
Visit Vinte Vinte’s online store -- https://shop.wow.pt/vinte-vinte-chocolate -- for bars, bonbons, cocoa powder, and more and visit their Porto lab and museum, The Chocolate Story, in the World of Wine complex.
Relish Portugal’s Chocolate Mug Cake
Surprise! Warm, gooey chocolate cake for two in just a few minutes flat.
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2.5 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp Vinte Vinte cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
tiny pinch of salt
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp olive oil
splash of vanilla extract
1 25g bar Vinte Vinte Classic 70% Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk in milk, olive oil, and vanilla until smooth. Using a fork, stir in the chopped chocolate.
Divide the batter into two microwave-safe coffee cups. Microwave for 90 seconds and allow to sit for two minutes before serving.
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