Peruvian chocolate named best in show at International Chocolate Awards

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Peru is more than Macchu Picchu, as it aims high with its cacao plants, which are prized in the fine chocolate world. Pic: Getty Images/fbxx
Peru is more than Macchu Picchu, as it aims high with its cacao plants, which are prized in the fine chocolate world. Pic: Getty Images/fbxx

Related tags: Premium chocolate, Chocolate bars, Fine flavor cocoa, Cacao, South america, Peru, Central america, bean to bar, single origin chocolate, White chocolate

Chocolates from South and Central America ruled this year’s bean-to-bar competition, which for the first time featured special recognition of innovation in craft chocolate.

Peru’s Cacaosuyo, which specializes in single-origin domestic varieties, took top honors in the plain/origin dark category for its Piura bar – a rare cacao with notes of citrus and fruit. This bar also received three ‘special category’ awards, with more specific criteria: chocolate maker, direct traded and growing country.

Cacaosuyo Piura Select

Cacaosuyo – which works with small producers for fully traceable cacao – also won silver for two other dark chocolate bars, plus a bronze in the inclusion category for a bar studded with Inka berries. They are considered a superfood, packed with vitamins, protein and carotenoids.

The company’s wins did not stop at dark chocolate, as the awards recognized its milk chocolate quinoa crunch bar with a bronze medal.

Another Peruvian brand, Elemento Chocolates, took top honors for milk chocolate for its 52% bar, as well as in the micro-batch category – where it was recognized in the ‘dark milk’ subset.

Elemento’s white chocolate also earned a bronze medal.

Chocolate from the Americas

At the Peru Cacao and Chocolate Salon held this month, the South American nation is showcasing its long history with cacao production​.

Neighboring nations also made the ICI list: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago, as did Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras.

From the US, Hawaii’s Mānoa Chocolate, along with Utah’s Solstice Chocolate and Amano Chocolate, earned silver and bronze recognition for their dark chocolate.

Chokola, a chocolate maker in Taos, New Mexico, went home a winner in the micro-batch categories. San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate and Boston’s Goodnow Farms Chocolate also landed there with silver awards, as did Stone Grindz out of Phoenix, Arizona, and Hazel Hill Chocolate based in Topeka, Kansas.

Flavor city

Overall, US brands fared better in the infusion and inclusion categories. TCHO, for instsance, reigned supreme with its Mokaccino, a 47% chocolate made with espresso from craft coffee roaster Blue Bottle. The Berkeley, California-based company also snagged a silver for its hazelnut crunch and a bronze for its peppermint mocha.

Only Child Chocolate Co. won top honors for its milks chocolate bar with rosemary and ginger.

Chocolate makers have become creative in their white chocolate offerings, too. Winners featured flavors like mango lassi (the popular Indian yogurt drink), lemon lavender, mesquite, lemon olive oil, and blue corn atole (a ground cornmeal breakfast beverage).

International Chocolate Awards

The competition started in 2012​, formed by chocolate professionals in the US, the UK and Italy, most of whom had judged other fine chocolate events.

In the past seven years, competitions have occurred in those countries, as well as in Germany, Belgium and throughout Scandinavia.

Pastry chefs, food journalists, sommeliers and chefs join the organization’s grand jury in assessing submissions.

“By helping to identify the best chocolate made with the best cacao, we hope to help chocolate makers, chocolatiers and cacao farmers continue to succeed at producing the world’s best fine cacao and fine chocolate,”​ ICA says on its website.

According to the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, whose members include a few ICI winners, fine chocolate comprises only 5% of the industry but is growing at a rapid pace. Consumers are increasingly interested by single-origin bars, dark chocolate, and products made through fair labor practices with traceable, sustainable ingredients.

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