Ancona: The Chocolate Province of Le Marche | Le Marche another Italy |

The Province of Ancona in Le Marche is my favourite province for chocolate production because of its fabulous chocolate producers.

What is the difference between a chocolate bar you find in a supermarket and chocolate made by a fine chocolatier?

Four major types of cacao are cultivated: Criollo, Forastero, Trinitario and Nacional.

The Criollo tree originates in Mexico and Central America and gives very high quality cacao beans and is mainly cultivated in South and Central America.

The Forastero is very much cultivated in Africa, but also in Central and South America and constitutes approximately 80% of world production of cacao.

The Trinitario is a crossbreed between the Forastero and Criollo, and is mainly cultivated in Central and South America and Asia. It has its aroma from Criollo and its resistance to disease and its productivity from Forastero.

The Nacional is mostly cultivated in South America west of the Andes. It is prone to disease and difficult to grow, but has an excellent aroma.

The flavor of the cacao beans is not only dependent on the variety, but also on the soil, temperature, sunshine and rainfall. It is now possible to buy chocolates made with cacao beans from one single region and thus compare the aromas; these chocolates are often called specialty chocolates, in contrast to ordinary chocolate which are made with mostly cheap cacao beans from several regions and with more than one cacao variety.

How do you determine if a bar is good?

To determine if a tablet is of excellent quality, you have to look at the percentage of cocoa and establish its provenance. A preparation with Criollo or Trinitario, will always be greater than one with only Forastero, even if this was achieved with very high percentage of raw material. Then a tablet with a percentage of 72% Criollo or Trinitario cocoa, will inevitably be better than one with only 85% of Forastero. It should not be too dark but a nice brown with shades of red mahogany possible. It should not be bitter, roasted sign of bad or poor quality of cocoa.