I have a confession to make: I know NOTHING about chocolate. I know that I like it and what my preferences are but that’s about it – there’s white, milk and dark and it tastes really freaking good. Is there more? Well, I should actually say that I used to know nothing about chocolate because my recent visit to Cao Chocolates in Kendall changed all of that. I purchased a chocolate tasting on Groupon without really knowing what to expect, really just looking for an excuse to gorge myself on chocolate for an evening. However, to my surprise, what I got was a brief yet informative beginner’s guide to training, led by owner/chocolatier Ricardo Trillos.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but who knew that cacao can only grow 20˚ above or below the equator line? Or that there were there are not only different varieties of cacao trees and different types of beans. Or that the flavor of the cacao beans is not only dependent on the variety, but also on the soil, temperature, sunshine and rainfall. Or that the famous Belgian or Swiss chocolates are really famous only for their processing methods since they have to import their cacao (remember the 20˚ rule). I could go on, and on…
From there, similar to a wine tasting, Ricardo next led us through a detailed tasting – a journey from white (34% cacao), milk (41%), Carenero (73%), Chuao (75%) – complete with tips on how to smell, listen for and taste the differences among the varieties. We even did a “blind” taste test of a well-known, major blended dark chocolate brand. I won’t name names, but let me just say I’ll never think of “America’s favorite chocolate bar” in the same way!
Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase because I know you’d all rather taste the chocolates than read about them. Let me just give you a little bit of background on Cao Chocolates. Established in 2008, their handcrafted, fine confections are made fresh to order using the finest 100% Venezuelan cacao, premium quality ingredients and fine liquors to offer decadent chocolates with incredible flavors and aromas. To be honest, the best way for me to wrap up my experience is by telling you that after having all that knowledge dropped on me, once the bonbons came out, my animal instincts took over and all I could think as I stuffed my face was “yummmmm, chocolate!”
Mitch’s recommendation: These guys seriously know their chocolates. Not only that, but you can taste the pride and passion they have for their craft. Whether you’re a certified chocoholic or need a gift for that special someone, give Cao a shout! And, speaking of gifts for that special someone… From now until Valentine’s Day, Cao Chocolates is offering an exclusive 10% discount for MMTM readers – be sure to mention us when you make your purchase (in-store only)!