Just when I thought I'd tasted the best of them, two entrepreneurs from Oregon go and find a unique cacoa bean in Peru, which has not been used in chocolate making for more than 100 years, and is reputed to be the unsurpassed best ever chocolate in the world.
Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley discovered 'football size' pods of purple and white cacoa beans in the Marañón Canyon of northern Peru, growing on 'National' trees. After sending samples of the beans to the Department of Agriculture specialists, along with 13 different bean samples from the region, they learned that the samples (Number 4) were identical to the cacao beans native to Ecuador, which became extinct as the result of a blight 100 years ago.
"Football size" cacao pods from Peru: © Moonstruck Chocolate
Inside the large pod are very distinctive purple and white cacao beans: © Moonstruck Chocolate
Pearson and Horsley hooked up with a Swiss chocolate expert, Franz Zeigler, and with his help, the entrepreneurs now have 15 tons of the to-die-for chocolate in slabs. Four companies are currently making the slabs into individual size chocolate bars and other candies.
MoonstrucK Chocolate, in Oregon, is the exclusive U.S. retailer of what is now called Fortunato No. 4. - Fortunato, because that is the name of the farmer on whose land the cacoa beans were found.
Fortunato No. 4 Tumbled Cacao Beans: © Moonstruck Chocolate
Fortunato No. 4 Tumbled Chocolate Bar: © Moonstruck Chocolate
Moonstruck's chocolatier, Julian Rose, has made a special treat out of the beans. He is tumbling the Nacional beans with twice the amount of Nacional chocolate. You can view the process in action on the Moonstruck website... and purchase the Fortunato No. 4 Tumbled Cacao Beans and Chocolate Bars while you're there!
Moonstruck Chocolate, NYTimes