By Ross Verne
WHILE it may not be everyone’s preferred option, the smouldering flavours of Papua New Guinean cocoa have found a place in the hearts of Texan chocolate lovers.
Long considered a defect caused by the need to fire-dry the beans before export, the characteristic smokiness of the local product has allowed one savvy Texas chocolate maker to capitalise on his compatriots’ love for all things barbequed.
“I had heard about the smoke in the cacao and wanted to try this because it seemed like something Texans would enjoy,” Tejas Chocolate founder Scott Moore Jr told PNG Resources.
“[Some] say the smoke is a defect because of poor post-harvest practices, and technically this might be true, but I viewed the smoke as a characteristic that as a chocolate maker in Texas I could embrace.”
Mr Moore founded Tejas Chocolate in 2011 with partner Michelle Holland after hearing of other Americans making chocolate at home.
“This was something I wanted to try. When I made chocolate people encouraged me to start selling it,” he said.
Mr Moore said the PNG bean had “a great character”, with fruity and honey tones providing an interesting contrast to the smokiness – which he accentuates by roasting his beans in a barbeque pit
“We thought we could play up the smoke in chocolate because that is what a good Texan would do,” he said.
Mr Moore said he uses the PNG bean in his dark chocolate bars to recreate the experience of eating a s’more – a North American campfire treat made with chocolate, marshmallow and crackers.
“When we make a dark milk chocolate with the PNG bean we find flavour notes that reminds us of s’mores,” he said.
“We call the bar the Camp Fire. A consumer could make a s’more with this bar and get a flavour similar to a fire-roasted marshmallow.”
About 15 per cent of the company’s chocolate comes from PNG cacao beans, with the company using them in three of their retail bars.
Mr Moore said that though has not visited PNG yet, he hoped to get to the country in 2015.
“I knew very little about PNG before using cacao from this region. Cacao has enlightened me about this region of the world.”