Today, we are taking a trip down memory lane to our visit to the Pod chocolate plantation and factory just outside of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
ADDICTION WARNING: If you love chocolate this may send you diving in to your nearest chocolate stash for a binge.
This place was amazing! Come with us on the tour!
As we drove in, the kids noticed the strange fruits hanging from the trees (ripe cocoa pods). Upon arrival we were greeted with a welcome drink of liquid chocolate...YUM!!! Then the tour began and since we were the only family there for the tour is was personalized for us!
Cocoa pods come in red and yellow varieties. Our own little "Vanna White" shows off the two varieties of pod, both ripe for picking.
This is a close-up of the ripe cocoa pod. Above and below the large ripe pod (and farther down the tree trunk) small pods are just beginning to grow and if you look carefully in a couple of places you can see tiny white cocoa pod buds.
Our guide was telling us about organic practices in Bali and how in order to be organic, all the farmers in the area have to agree. They have agreed in this area and thus the organic chocolate factory. All the trees in the area have these bug traps tied on to them instead of being sprayed.
This is what the inside of the cocoa pod looks like. All the little sections make up the cocoa fruit. The center of each section is a 'pit' that is a cocoa bean.
The insides of the cocoa fruit...and the blue eyes!
Cocoa fruits are laid out in the shady open air. The papery-dried outsides are blown away and cocoa beans are left behind. this initial drying process takes about a week. They don't smell or taste like chocolate at this point and are extremely BITTER!!!!!
Next the dried beans are sun-roasted for 3 days.
Then, the sun-roasted beans are crushed. The crushed bits of bean are called nibs. Whole bean on the left and cocoa nibs on the right. At this point they smell like chocolate but still taste very bitter --more like you would expect from pure cocoa without any sweetener. The outer shells are sifted off and nibs are then roasted.
This is the roaster. Roasting involves both high temperature and constant movement. The amount of roasting time and exact temperature creates different flavor nuances in the nibs. The roasted nibs are then ground into cocoa powder and pressed. The pressing process extracts cocoa butter.
For regular chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar are mixed in batches. White chocolate is a mix of milk solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Every batch is mixed for 24 hours.
They displayed how much of each ingredient went into each kind of chocolate bar using quart jars. This is Pod's extra-dark chocolate bar. In the jar you can see the sugar on top, the cocoa nibs necessary to make enough cocoa powder, and a tiny bit of cocoa butter in the bottom. As your chocolate gets lighters colored it has less cocoa powder and more cocoa butter.
After the tour they seated us in their outdoor cafe area. Each of us got to choose off little slips of paper the items we would like to put in our own chocolates. We were give little plastic elephant molds and warm chocolate in bags.
We squeezed the chocolate out into the molds, tapped out the bubbles and decorated them with our selected items. Alia chose raisins, gummies and sprinkles.
Si went straight for the sprinkles.
Here is mommy's tray. I chose pistachio, cranberry and coconut.
Zander was more than happy to finish off his bag of chocolate with Daddy's help.
Yup. Quite tasty.
Mommy's leftover coconut wasn't too bad either!
Next to their cafe they had a rareSun bear. People would pay to have him sit on their laps for photos. It was sad. They only let him out for photos and for a little while after the photo for the people to watch him run around then they put him back in his cage. Super sad. The kids wanted to either let him out of the cage so he could run away and be wild or take him home with us so at least he would play outside all day if he wanted to. :)
This may just be my fav pic from our trip thus far. Then we hung out and had lunch while we waited for our chocolates to chill. The menu offerings all included chocolate in some form. The kids actually had a cheese pizza with a chocolate drizzle--which was MUCH better than it sounded! Paul had a common Indonesian dish into which they incorporated chocolate nibs (really good) and I had.....umm, well, I can't remember but I promise it was super yummy and it had chocolate in it!
Here's our final product we got to take home with us. We even had some for breakfast the next morning because no one wanted to wait any longer to have another!
So, tell me about your factory tour experiences. Were you impressed by something or surprised at something you were allowed to do, see or know. Tell me what it was!