Island Chocolate 101

Our salute to that most delectable of tropical fruits, the cacao plant, and the lush island climates that make planting and harvesting the sweet treat possible.

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From chocolate cakes and truffles to cocoa powder and Oaxacan mole, it's hard to imagine a life without the cacao plant. And thanks to the balmy tropical climates and rich, fertile soil of many islands, we don't have to.Thinkstock
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The path to scrumptious chocolate begins with the cacao butter plant – small pods containing cacao seeds that grow on cacao trees in humid, fertile climates. Return to Main PageThinkstock
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Native to the Amazon region, the cacao plant flourishes in tropical climates such as Central and South America, coastal Africa and many regions of the Caribbean – particularly Trinidad, Grenada and Martinique. Return to Main PageThinkstock
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Cracked open, the cacao fruit pods contain around 30 cacao seeds each. It takes around 10 of these pods to make one pound of cocoa. Return to Main PageThinkstock
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Once the cacao beans are removed from the cacao plant, they go through a fermentation process. Return to Main PageThinkstock
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The cacao seeds are dried – often sun-dried, as seen here in Venezuela – before being cleaned and packed for processing into a chocolate liquor paste. Return to Main PageThinkstock
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Once the beans are dried, they're roasted and shelled for the kernels within, ultimately leaving us with chocolate liquer, cocoa powder and all varieties of chocolate we know and savor today. Return to Main PageThinkstock