So, if anyone has been following along at home – you would have noticed us gushing about cacao and how good it is!
Lots of you have jumped on board and all seem to agree – this stuff is MAGICAL.
But what actually is it and how do we use it?
My version goes a little like this: “Cacao is a gentle plant medicine that is used in the Shamanic culture to open the heart. It tastes like pure chocolate and is healing to the soul. We use it in circles to connect people together and allow them to share vulnerably and from the heart”
But if you want to get a bit more geeky…
Let’s take you on a little history trip to find out the background of where it comes from, and how it is grown and then get into the benefits and how we use it!
So, the “proper” name for cacao is actually Theobroma Cacao and it is mainly sourced from cacao trees in Peru. This is why it is known as “plant medicine”. Theobroma is Greek for “food of the gods” and cacao is the Spanish adaptation of the Mayan name for the tree: “kakaw”. Cacao and Cocoa are technically the same things, but the term “cacao” is usually used for the raw, unprocessed version used in the cultural ceremony. “Cocoa” is normally linked to more processed forms such as milk chocolate.
Cacao dates back to over 5000 years ago and it is thought it was natively grown in the rainforests of Ecuador. The cacao plant grows best in tropical climates and in a shaded protected position, so the rainforest is perfect for its growth.
The Inca warriors in the Aztec regions were given cacao before going into battle. It was a sacred ritual and also had numerous health benefits.
Cacao contains high amounts of minerals including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It is also one of the richest sources of antioxidants, thus providing endurance and stamina during these battles.
Cacao actually contains more antioxidants per gram than blueberries, goji berries, red wine, raisins, prunes and even pomegranates!! It’s classified as a superfood. No wonder we love it!
Nutrients in cacao have also been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, help stabilise blood sugars, assist in mood regulation and aid in preventing blood clots. Win-win!
Cacao comes in many forms but the cacao we sell and drink in circles is actually called “cacao paste”. This is also known as cacao liquor or cacao mass.
Cacao grows on the cacao plant which produces big husk-like “pods”. Within each pod, there are numerous “seeds” also known as “beans” which is where cacao comes from. Cacao nibs are actually these seeds broken down roughly into tiny pieces and can be used in raw cooking.
Nibs can then be fermented at room temperature and then ground down to a smooth paste (liquid-like) which is then solidified and is called cacao paste. This is what we use to make a beautiful smooth warm cup of cacao!
So how do you make cacao?
Everyone has a different way but traditionally cacao was just ground down and brewed with water into quite a bitter but powerful drink. Over time other things such as milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon have been added.
Everyone is constantly telling me that my cacao is the best they have ever tasted and want to know my secret. There are no secrets other than my ratios. You want the inside goss, however? This is how I make mine… in a Thermomix. Eeeeek that is not very sacred or ceremonial I know but when you are making cacao for 40+ people it’s quick, easy and it tastes the same nearly every single time!
It all has to do with intention so it’s the energy you put into it. Sometimes I sing to mine whilst it is cooking in the Thermomix. Yes, I am weird… I get some crazy looks. Cacao is more traditionally made on the stove with love and intention so if you have time and can do it - the stove is the preferred method.
I make my personal batches 1 litre at a time and store them in a glass jar in the fridge. It lasts forever. I drink it every day so hard to say how long it lasts! I actually warm up my small cup of cacao daily in my Breville milk frother. I pour it straight out of the glass jar into the frother and a few minutes later I have a perfect cup of cacao. So easy and always gets to the exact temperature without any microwaving or standing over a stove.
So, you want my famous recipe? I am no KFC Colonel Sanders so happy to share my tricks!
· 80 g of coconut sugar (the most un-processed form of sugar. You can also use maple syrup, honey or other sweeteners)
· 1 litre of coconut milk (one tetra pack). You can also use almond milk, oat milk or any other milk but I love coconut for mine.
· Himalayan rock salt (don’t skimp – it’s actually great for taking out the bitterness). I do 4 or 5 twists of my grinder
· Cayenne pepper (the tiniest amount). This helps open up the blood vessels and is traditionally used in Shamanic cacao. Start little and work your way up.
· Cinnamon – a few shakes to taste
· Essential oil (optional). 2 drops of DoTerra wild orange oil is amazing. Message me if you want help with oils as we also sell them.
Put the cacao chunks and all other dry ingredients into the Thermomix and melt with some boiling water from the kettle to form a gravy-like paste. I do about 6 mins at 70 degrees speed 1.
Once melted, add the litre of milk and cook for 11 mins, 90 mins, speed 1 (or until it reaches temperature)
Blend slowly from speed 5 to 10 to finish and really ensure it has a smooth consistency.
This whole process can also be done on the stovetop but requires more manual stirring. It can be drunk straight from the saucepan but blending it afterwards really makes for a smooth consistency.
So, there you have it! The Cacao Colonel has spoken.
So, this is all well and great but what happens at a cacao circle? Why should I attend one?
Running cacao circles is one of my favourite things to do. It brings people together from all different walks of life and connects them at a soul level. The cacao really opens people’s hearts. It has become quite the running joke that “this stuff makes you cry”. Not far off the mark… it has a magical quality of allowing people to share vulnerably, from the heart and openly without judgement.
Circles are a beautiful place for connection, healing, a feeling of belonging, sharing openly and finding your tribe. People often find their purpose and some meaning in their life after coming to a cacao circle. If you are ready, cacao will find you. Pure magic!
If you are wanting to know more about circles or how cacao works send me a message and we can connect. If you want to know when the next cacao circle is on- check out our events page and register your spot!
Michelle Anne xx