Nothing elevates life like chocolate. And, for us, no chocolate can come close to the stunningly nuanced and gloriously pure ceremonial Criollo cacao paste from Ruk’u’x Ulew. The cacao is thoughtfully grown at an organic indigenous family farm in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala before being processed by a women's collective on the shores of Lake Atitlán. Small batches of beans are left to ferment, sun-dried, and roasted gently over a rustic wood fire before being carefully shelled by hand. Once processed by stone-grinding into a paste, the cacao is formed into beautifully swirled disks of untempered pure chocolate.
The flavor is truly fantastic; not bitter—as one may expect from unsweetened chocolate—making it pleasant enough to be consumed without added sweeteners. Notes of dark roasted coffee and smokey earthiness calm any acerbic tones one associates with bitterness. Eaten off the block, the chocolate is lovely but, as it lacks any added emulsifiers, the texture is missing the smooth unctuous mouthfeel of conventional chocolate making it, in our opinion, ideal for hot chocolate.
We admit to savoring every last drop of rich cups of cocoa each day to start off our mornings with a peace that only comes from a soul-warming cup of decadent hot chocolate. We begin with hot (not boiling) water or milk into which we add some finely chopped or grated cacao off the block. The untempered nature of the cacao results in a tender brittle texture and, when cut, the cacao naturally wants to break into perfectly sized powdery granules making preparation nearly effortless. Add in some cinnamon, vanilla, and a whisper of cayenne for the most incredible cup of hot chocolate you could imagine. For some added magic, whip the cocoa by hand, with a blender, or a hot chocolate steamer for a foamy transformative masterpiece. We don't add sweetener but you absolutely can!
The cacao can also be used in place of unsweetened chocolate in sweet and savory recipes alike. Add it to any sauce for an unexpected but welcomed mole flavor or grate over ice cream for a refreshingly bitter chocolate kick. To make this cacao even more appealing, know that 100% of the profits go to the incredible indigenous Mayan people who grow and process this decadent product!