From cocoa to Haitian chocolate balls
I initially published this Haitian chocolate article on November 12, 2014. Today, I have updated it with new improved pictures.
The weather always has a way to influence what our taste buds desire, and in my case I have specific cravings. When it’s hot outside, I can’t help but crave a nice fresco to cool me down. And when it’s rainy and cool, all I want is to snuggle with a creamy drink.
Lately, with the wintery type of weather settling in, – pardon my use of a season in our side of the world where no such thing exists – we have had gloomy and what the Caribbean girl in me would definitely call cold days. No offense to those currently experiencing real winter.
Yesterday in particular, all I could think about was getting under my covers as soon as possible with a mug of warm chocolate with the rain playing in the background as I watched the fog wrap itself around our house.
Luckily, a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to my own private chocolate making demo session. I finally got to watch first-hand how our local cocoa is turned into the unrefined chocolate balls, better known in Haiti as chokola peyi. This means I have some freshly-made Haitian chocolate balls readily available.
So today, we will embark on a Haitian chocolaty adventure that I hope will keep you warm through the upcoming winter wherever you may be.
Please note that this is the homemade version and that, as such, no fancy tools were used.
The six steps of making chokola peyi or Haitian chocolate
- Drying: the beans are extracted from the ripe yellowish cocoa by hand, and are left to air dry on a flat surface.
- Roasting: the dried beans, turned darker, are grilled until the outer skin or shellshows signs of detaching itself and the beans start to crack. And yes, much like peanuts, cocoa beans also have a thin layer attached to them.
- Cooling & Peeling: the grilled beans are set aside to cool down and are hand peeled. The pan is shaken to separate the beans and shells.
- Double crushing: the peeled beans are ground twice in a mill. The first step reduces them to a powder and the second releases the fats turning the grains into a paste.
- Shaping & Wrapping: the resulting paste is then hand rolled into balls that are wrapped in leaves, typically plantain leaves but in our case we used the actual cocoa leaves, where they will dry and turn into hard chocolate balls.
- Storing: chokola peyi is said to survive years as long as it’s stored in a cool and dry place. As my demo guy put it, chokola peyi is what you reach for in bad weather when everything else has gone bad. In the provinces of Haiti, they are stored in the galata, but I store mine in an airtight container.
Voila, we’re now ready for endless mugs of warm hot Haitian chocolate to help us through the winter. Hope you enjoy your hot chocolate dark and bittersweet because this is exactly what you will get when you melt our chokola peyi with sweet spices in some steamy hot creamy milk.