The Many Diverse & Delicious Chocolates of Venezuela
El Rey. Nestle Savoy. Kakao. Mantuano. Paria. Sinfonia.
Chocolate with red pepper. Chocolate with Earl Gray tea. Chocolate with sea salt, coffee beans, ginger, granola, and rattlesnake*.
Venezuela, home to the prized criollo bean and exporter of over 8000 tons of cacao per year, manufactures chocolates that are just as diverse as its wide range of landscapes. This is no small feat, considering Venezuela boasts beautiful tropical beaches, lush jungles, the world’s tallest waterfall (Angel Falls), and a desert that could easily pass as the Sahara. (I kid you not.)
Similarly, chocolate made in Venezuela comes in a huge range of sizes and flavors.
I speak from personal experience, having lived on a not-so-little island off the coast of mainland Venezuela for many years. (Yes. A Caribbean island with practically locally-grown chocolate. Try not to to be *too* jealous.)
My whole family was properly impressed by the huge bars of El Rey, weighing in at a hefty 1kg (2.2lbs) each. I have a vague recollection of being told that these bars were intended to be used, a little at a time, for baking purposes. Ours never lasted that long. We’d break up a 1kg bar into 10 pieces. There are five of us; each of us got two pieces. If everyone was very good and did not eat their two pieces in one sitting, the giant 1kg bar lasted a grand total of two days. (Chocolate is serious business at my house. We do not take it lightly. Pun intended.)
The following is a brief overview of a few Venezuelan chocolates. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list; Venezuela has been making chocolate too long (and become too good at it) for me to be able to portray all the goodness in one post.
MANTUANO Mantuano’s variety is stunning. In addition to the orange, ginger, Earl Grey, and coffee (pictured), they also offer flavors such as lemon, granola, sea salt, pepper, & mint. Mantuano chocolate ranges from milk (in the 40-50% range) to dark (70-80%).
Until next time….
*Raise your hand if you skipped here to the end before reading all the way through, wondering if rattlesnake chocolate is actually a thing. Sorry to disappoint; it is a figment of my kid brother’s imagination. During a pit stop to a local candy store, we once came across an unfamiliar flavor: “chocolate con serrapia”. My brother (who has a crazy sense of humor) took a wild stab at guessing it was “chocolate with rattlesnake”. Of course he missed the mark entirely. Serrapia, it turns out, is a fruit grown in the Venezuelan state of Sucre. I found its flavor to be sweet and flowery & more appealing than snake. Not like I’ve ever tried snake. I hate snakes. I’m one of those I’ll-shriek-if-you-bring-it-anywhere-near-me, won’t-even-touch-a-nice-snake people.