Mexico’s southern states deserve some credit as the birthplace of chocolate.
Sure, Europeans perfected the sweet and creamy treat beloved today, but Mexicans first used the fruit of the cacao tree in its truest form, embracing its bitter and savoury qualities in their famous moles and fermented corn and cacao drinks.
Mexicans still revere the traditional uses for chocolate. But, these days, that country is starting to gain notoriety in regards to top-quality dessert chocolates as well. Think of chocolatiers like Luis Roblebo — Mexico’s 2019 pastry chef of the year.
Two of Roblebo’s apprentices, Nadia Andrade and Victor Duarte, recently opened CH. Cafeteria in Edmonton, with partners Sara Rangel and Edmonton Football Club wide receiver Diego Viamontes. The foursome are producing chocolate bars and desserts that combine refined French style Valrhona chocolate with traditional Mexican flavours.
The goal — to share their chocolate knowledge and passion in a comfortable, relaxed way— is best exemplified through CH. Cafeteria’s exhaustive chocolate tastings, available on Sundays, pandemic restrictions permitting. There, they guide you through tasting a minimum of 15-20 chocolates, including many Mexican versions that typically contain add-ins such as ground almond, cinnamon or chilis. Tasting two 70 per cent dark chocolates from different origins side by side offers clear distinctions between what their homes contribute to each.
Halfway through the tasting, it’s time to put the chocolate away to give your palate a break with a lunch of authentic chilaquiles, fried tortillas with sauce.
For those who may find the task of eating 20 chocolates plus lunch a little daunting, but still want to sample CH. Cafeteria’s specialties, there are 18 different chocolate bars for purchase, including a dark chocolate and chili bar which is a tribute to the original Aztec hot chocolate, Xocolatl.
In addition, Andrade has been refining a house-made version of Nutella, cheekily named Not-Ella, that is a complete bean-to-jar treat. It starts with roasting cacao beans over charcoal, then peeling, blending and mixing them in a wet grinder — and finally combined with CH’s own praline mix. CH’s velvety smooth chocolate mousse desserts are available in single portions in the display case.
The CH. Cafeteria chocolate tour’s Chai Chocolate is a must-try. It is a delicious take on a chai latte which uses its own chocolate ganache and a proprietary chai blend for a truly unique and delicious drink.
This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Edify.