~The ultimate chocolate tour~
I remember my first bit of chocolate; it was nothing like anything I had ever tasted. It was a rich, decadently creamy sweet brown kiss that warmed my soul and melted on my tongue. It danced and tantalized my young taste buds, it possessed my senses in one bite, and I fell in love. Since then, I have considered myself a chocolate fanatic, and you don’t have to ask me twice to try anything with chocolate. So a local chocolate tour? BRING IT!
ChocXo is a local chocolatier in Irvine, CA. It is a relatively new company, and they are known for their small batch and single origin chocolates. They are the only company in SoCal that makes the chocolate from bean to bar. Our tour guide, Brett, is the resident chocolate master. He is the heart and soul of the single origin dark chocolates. His passion for chocolate exudes with every fiber of his being. His knowledge of the whole process of chocolate: from pod to chocolate was thorough and informative.
The tour was interactive and had a lot of samples to try; we were able to taste every process of chocolate making. We learned that chocolate pods grow on the trunk of trees. We got to shake a dried out chocolate pod and it was like a stemless maracas. It would make for a great baby toy.
The pod contains a white pulp, we were able to have a small taste of the frozen fruit pulp, it was sweet and slightly tangy. The taste kind of reminded me of a slightly more tangy lychee and the texture was similar to a durian. Winter and August loved it.
We also got to crack open our own cocoa seed and try a roasted cocoa nib. It was pretty easy to crack open, and the fresh cocoa nib was a lot like eating a roasted coffee bean but a lot less bitter. Winter was daring enough to try and she seemed to like it, but our journey to the chocolate bar she wanted was still further in the chocolate making journey.
The step right before chocolate is made is the grinding process, where the cocoa nibs are ground down to their finest particles creating the chocolate liquor. It has no sugar, and is the purest chocolate you’ll ever taste. Since the liquor looks like melted chocolate, Winter was excited to try it. Her reaction was priceless.
After the chocolate liquor, we finally got to the liquid chocolate tasting. ChocXo has a wall that pours outs two different types of single origin Ecuadorean chocolate: a 70% Yaguachi dark chocolate and a 72% Camino Verde dark chocolate. Even though only there’s only a two percent difference between the two chocolates, you can really taste the 2% difference. The subtleties are complex, closing your eyes help to hone in on the discreet flavors of a high end chocolate.
At ChocXO chocolate making is an art form that has to be seen and tasted to appreciate their delicious labor of love. I highly recommend you take this tour and stock up on their chocolates or handmade truffles for the upcoming holidays, or squirrel away some for yourself (I won’t judge.) Or pop in for the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had in your life, I’ve had dreams about it.
9461 Irvine Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618