From cacao to cocoa, we’ve listed all of the top varieties to be paired with quality rum to impress that special someone this International Chocolate Day. Here’s everything you need to know about this match made in heaven.
Some things are simply made to exist within union of one another; rum and chocolate are two of them. Premium rums and quality cocoa are crafted thoughtfully, and carefully, ensuring the end result is symphonic in flavor, texture & aroma.
They also boast numerous similarities in how they are produced, namely the use of raw materials, climatic conditions, craftsmanship and passion. Venezuelan cocoa, for example, is known for its parallels to the rum industry when it comes to quality and production.
Paring these delicacies makes for quite the pleasant experience, as any seasoned cacao-appreciating rum-drinker will tell you. Both are an art form in their own right, and you’ll do well to bring them together to your palate this International Chocolate Day.
Best Quality Cocoa in the World
The best cocoa in the world is not easily defined. There are many factors that contribute to a singular chocolate experience, but at the heart of it, it always comes down to the cocoa.
Different types of cacao can make excellent a chocolate, depending on the intended experience of the chocolatiers. Geography, climate and farming rituals also play a formative role. Venezuela produces premium and rare varieties of cacao including Porcelana, created in the Zulia State, cultivated in the mountains and known worldwide for its exceptional aromatic power, mild flavor and delicate texture. The village of Chuao produces a cocoa called Fino, a premium variety of criollo whose flavor reflects not only the variety of cocoa, but also the richness of the land and the cocoa culture of the farmers in the region. All of these are widely regarded as some of the best quality cocoa in the world.
As with liquors, cocoa beans can be separated into bulk produce and fine varieties. What’s interesting is that these are typically grown side by side in many global destinations, with countries like the Philippines and Ecuador leading the pack.
It is possible to find high quality pure cocoa in almost all tropical regions on Earth. The difference between luxury-produce or not, almost always comes down to geographical reputation.
The rich Criollo cacao taste caused the ancient Mayan people to coin the phrase “food of the gods”, however genetically authentic Criollo trees are no longer found in commercial plantations. What we know today to be Criollo cacao is merely a spectrum of plants and trees with vastly varied chromosomes.
Of all cocoa varieties, Criollo may be considered the superior, and Venezuela offers one of the largest extensions of Criollo plantations on the planet. This lowers the yield, but also drives the price up.
When pure cocoa chocolate made from Criollo beans hits the palate, it is described as mild in acidity, and hardly ever bitter. It is not as full-bodied as other cacao varieties, offering secondary aromas of caramel, fruit and nuts. A hint of tobacco may also be detected.
Forastero cocoa is fast becoming the most sought after bean for chocolate makers seeking that full-bodied cocoa taste. Like Criollo cacao, Forastero is no singular entity, but rather the product of ten different gene groups that each offer distortions to color, taste and shape.
Due to the emergence of cacao plantations in Africa and Southeast Asia, thanks to seeds taken from South America, Forastero is now the most abundant type of cacao in the world. It makes up over 80% of total global cacao production, leaving the other twenty to Criollo and Trinitario.
Unlike Criollo, Forastero cacao has a high chance of tasting bitter or acidic. It’s a bold flavor, but is not thought of as being particularly aromatic.
Trinitario Cacao Beans
If Forastero is affordable, and Criollo is expensive, Trinitario cacao beans fit perfectly in the middle. A long time ago, there was widespread concern that the Criollo bean was on the path to extinction, and a decision was made to propagate the plant on the islands of Trinidad.
The Criollo bean was crossbred with the Amelonado plant, and the result is one of the most potent cacao flavors in history, with a lot less acidity and bitterness compared to the likes of Forastero. Today, the Trinitario bean grows abundantly throughout Venezuela.
Rum and Chocolate: The Best Pairing
September 13th is best spent enjoying fine rums accompanied by dark treats. Like in rum, there are pure cocoa benefits that actually help the human body. Lowering of blood pressure tends to be the major crowd pleaser, but improvement of mood and possible resistance to strokes are definitely unignorable incentives.
It goes without saying that, like chocolate, rum will indeed improve your mood. Come World Chocolate Day, it will be hard to decide which companion you crave more.
Here’s how the experts are pairing their rum with their chocolate:
- Sweeter chocolates are best paired with younger rums.
- Chocolates with high cacao percentages are best coupled with darker, more aged rums.
- Keep plain crackers on hand and use them to cleanse the palate between different rums, or different chocolates. Wash them down with water, not rum!
- Serve both rum and chocolate at room temperature, so there is no textural conflict in the mouth.
- Don’t take it too seriously — rum and chocolate are meant to be fun!