Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cacao Tea 

In our quest to find the perfectly acceptable modernized version of Aztec Drinking Chocolate, we've tried many things, including the molten chocolate of French fame.

Our search took us to Trinidad, and their scrumptious Cacao Tea. They flavor their smooth drinking chocolate with bay leaves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It's not Aztec, but it is delicious.

We bought a pound of chocolate nibs for our experimentation, grinding them in a warmed mortar. This was tedious and the mortar needed frequent warming. On a happy thought, we brought out the Magic Bullet blender (which is highly useful for small jobs and easy to clean afterwards) and used the flat blade for coffee grinding, and ground the rest of the nibs in that. This ground them very finely into a thick paste.

After the nibs were ground, we added the spices to the paste, along with some sugar, and reground it until it was well mixed. Then we shaped the paste into small sticks (about an ounce) on parchment paper and dried it in a warm oven overnight. The sticks were dense and fragrant.

Using one stick, we reground it, then whisked the grindings in boiling water. Trinidad style meant adding sweetened condensed milk to the hot cacao tea.

Again, not very Aztec, but this is a taste sensation you really have to try at least once in your life. With or without the sweetened condensed milk, the tea was tasty and full of texture. The ground nibs float, and if you chew them, you get a boost in chocolate flavor that I really liked.

If you don't have cacao nibs, you can use 70% cacao baking chocolate instead. It's less textured, but the flavor is all there.

So, Cacao Tea is definitely going to be considered for the menu at the Cracked Cauldron.

I know - when will it open? This is a question we are all asking ourselves. After that rush of optimism, things seem to have tapered off considerably, but we are working hard. Manager is working towards achieving some of the credentials potential investors and loan officers want to see, and that takes time.

She currently getting management and cash-flow and budgeting skills, and is still checking out the culinary schools that have opened nearby. Most of them seem to be for general culinary skills, where she wants certification specifically in baking and pastry making.

It may be necesary to save up money and send her to a school in another state to get the certifications she feels will help her convince investors she knows what she's doing.

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