Chulucanas (north coast, Piura Province of Peru) is a name chocolate lovers should familiarize themselves with, as it is rapidly emerging as one of Peru’s preeminent cacao-producing regions. Acalli sources the cacao for this chocolate from the community of El Platanal, which sits nestled in a dramatic river valley on the arid western slopes of the Andes. With a reliable supply of water and a more humid micro-climate created by the steep valley walls, cacao thrives in this unlikely landscape. The El Platanal cooperative counted 54 socios at the time of our visit in 2014, 14 of whom were women. Most producers here are first-generation cacao farmers, which makes the quality of their cacao that much more remarkable.
El Platanal markets their cacao through the Norandino cooperative, a second-tier organization based in the city of Piura that handles export, oversees quality control, and offers technical assistance on all aspects ranging from agronomy to fermentation.
Acalli's El Platanal bar won a 2015 Good Food Award for its juicy acidity and assertive fruit flavors. No cocoa butter is added to this bar, so the melt is a little slower and the flavors more lingering. When eating this bar, you'll taste notes of plum and tangerine, bright juicy acidity, subtle and subdued chocolate flavor.
A Note from Acalli Chocolate
We are chocolate makers, meaning we work from bean to bar. We import cacao—the seeds of a tropical fruit have been painstakingly cultivated, harvested, fermented, and dried by our partners at origin—and transform it into chocolate at our workshop in Gretna, Louisiana. The name Acalli (ah-CALL-ee) means “canoe” in Nahuatl, the same language that gave us the word “chocolate.”
We like to compare cacao/chocolate to coffee. Both owe their complex flavors to the combined effects of fermentation (which develops chemical flavor precursors) and roasting (which transforms those precursors into discernible flavors via the Maillard reaction). They come from the same countries of origin and require similar climates, and in fact many farming communities produce both—cacao at low elevations and coffee higher up.
We approach chocolate making with the philosophy that we are the final stewards of something truly valuable, and that origin isn’t just about place—it’s about people. For this reason, we strive to develop real relationships with the cacao growers and fermentation experts who make great chocolate possible. We go to origin and meet these people, and we offer a more limited range of origins so that we can focus our efforts on better knowing and better representing the producers we are lucky enough to work with.