Jaguar chocolate, also know as Pataxte (Pronounced: pah-TAH-sh-tay), mocambo, balamte, albino, or it’s scientific name, Theobroma bicolor is a close cousin of the chocolate you know and love. We first heard about this cacao family member on a trip to ChocoSol, an incredible bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Toronto. When we were able to get our hands on the beans ourselves, we jumped at the chance! We’ve been experimenting with this bean here at Laughing Gull Chocolates for the past few months now, taking it from whole bean all the way to a rich, creamy bar. We sat down with Barclay, the team member who has headed up our in-house chocolate making initiatives, to get his take on the bean, the process, and all things chocolate.
Favorite Craft Chocolate: I like the Naive White Cacao, the Luisa Abram 81% Wild Cacao, and the Ritual Madagascar that we offer here at the shop. Although it’s been several years, I would also include the François Pralus Chuao bar among my all time favorites.
How your love of chocolate began: On various holidays as a kid, I would receive an overabundance of generic milk chocolate bunnies, eggs, and Santa Clauses. I would finish all this chocolate almost out of duty, and with increasingly diminished enthusiasm by the end. After a few years, I asked my mom, “instead of getting all this cheap chocolate, could I maybe get less chocolate, but of a higher quality, please?” My mom thought that was amusing coming from a 6 or 7-year-old. A trip to the Netherlands around this age also proved to be eye-opening, as I discovered the chocolate there to be better than what I was used to back home. Then, as a teenager, I read some articles about the mind-altering, cognitive-boosting effects of chocolate, which I found to be quite intriguing. I went on to learn about the fascinating history and mythology of chocolate, including the legend of the extraterrestrial deity Quetzlcoatl, who was said to bring cacao to the humans. This was all cool as heck! Eventually, I started experimenting with making my own chocolate at home.
What part of the chocolate making process do you enjoy the most?: It is a delight to experience the aromas that are produced by the roasting of beans, as well as adding the freshly roasted nibs into the melanger, where this process sees dried nibs seemingly transmuted or transmogrified to rich, flowing chocolate as if by alchemy. The eating of the chocolate is decidedly the best part.
What part of the chocolate making process is most challenging?: The jaguar beans in particular have proven difficult to winnow (separating the husk from the nib). They have a heavier husk and so the winnowing equipment doesn’t remove the husk as efficiently. There was a lot of time and effort spent on hand-sorting the husk from the nib in this case. Traditionally, these beans are winnowed individually, by hand. The jaguar bean is a different species (Theobroma bicolor) and it has a higher protein and fiber content than the chocolate we typically work with (Theobroma cacao). Because of this, the jaguar chocolate behaves differently, so learning to temper it properly has been another challenge.
What, in your opinion, is the coolest thing about the jaguar chocolate?: That it’s so rare. Because it’s a lesser known bean that has not been considered commercially viable over the centuries, it’s really cool and exciting that we are able to offer a type of chocolate that many have never heard of or tasted before.
Barclay is right – this jaguar chocolate is pretty special. There are only a handful of makers working with jaguar beans; we’re so proud to be one of them! So what does it taste like? It’s nutty, creamy, a teensy bit floral. It’s hard to compare to anything else. We’re giving first dibs to our Subscription Box Members. If you want to try an early-release of the jaguar chocolate, subscribe here!