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Rich in Polyphenol! Original Chocolates Made from Cacao Beans. Monthly Workshop at Yuimarlu Okinawa (Haebaru Town).
post : 2018.10.11 06:00
Held once a month at Yuimarlu Okinawa in Haebaru Town is a great workshop for chocolate lovers. This article will introduce their workshop held on June 15, titled, “Making chocolate from cacao beans”. This workshop is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to taste freshly made chocolates or for those who want to learn more about chocolate.
We all enjoy our chocolate treats, but not many of us know how cacao beans transform to chocolate, and perhaps even fewer people have actually made chocolate from scratch.
The workshop held that day gave the participants an opportunity to make chocolate together with Mr. Kei Kawai, who started growing cacao beans in Ogimi Village in the northern region of Okinawa back in 2016.
As the participants extracted the pre-roasted cacao beans from the shells and grinded them finely, they were presented with interesting information such as the history of cacao, the varying characteristics of cacao by region, the differences in milk and bitter chocolates, and the current information on cacao farming in Okinawa. It’s a lot of work to grind the cacao and sugar until smooth, a process called melanging, so the baton was passed to a special machine which had two rollers that spun rapidly to grind the mixture to a fine finish.
The next step was tempering. This step is important in the process of chocolate making as it decides the gloss and texture of the chocolate. While placing the bowl with chocolate in hot water and cold water alternately, the chocolate was constantly mixed with a spatula until the temperature was just right.
After tempering, the chocolate was then poured into molds or pans and decorated with various toppings brought from Ogimi Village by Mr. Kawai. The toppings included pumpkin seeds, shikwasa citrus rind, sugar-pickled shell ginger flowers, goya seeds, and Okinawan cinnamon leaf powder.
Once the toppings were done, the original chocolates were then placed in the fridge. The finished chocolates were very different from the store-bought chocolates! Without additives, the purity of the chocolate was very high, and the fine balance of the full aroma of cacao and the refreshingly bitter taste was superb. Just one elegant piece was enough to give great delight.
The chocolates created with a fusion of cacao and other ingredients from Ogimi Village are a product of Mr. Kawai’s wish “in creating a community network through local resources,” and his goal is “to connect the producers of ingredients used for chocolate, and to create a world-class brand of Okinawan chocolate.”
It is said that it takes approximately three to four years from planting to harvesting of cacao. Which means that for the world to enjoy 100% Okinawan-made chocolate using the cacao grown by Mr. Kawai, it would be in the year 2020 and beyond. (*The cacao beans used for the workshop that day was grown in Vietnam.) Expectations are high as we await the chocolates made with cacao grown in Okinawa, the only subtropical region in Japan. We’ll have to wait and see until 2020!
If you would like to participate in their workshop to learn about making chocolate from scratch, please refer to Yuimarlu Okinawa’s Facebook page. Reservations are accepted at the shop as well as over the phone.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer Sachiko Tachi