You can grate Caribbean cocoa balls to make delicious, chocolatey cocoa tea. But, how do you make the balls themselves?
Caribbean cocoa balls are made by roasting and shelling dried cacao beans, then grinding and shaping the beans into balls. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can also be added. The cocoa balls harden over time and are used to make cocoa tea.
No chocolate can compare to that real cocoa taste. Yum!
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How to Make Caribbean Cocoa Balls
From Cocoa Pods to Dried Beans
My dad usually purchases the cocoa pods from the market. He cuts them open and removes the cocoa seeds for my mom.
By the way, you can suck the white pulp off the seeds, it’s really good and tasty. Mix with chopped culantro (chadon beni) and make cocoa chow too.
My mom doesn’t do any of that. She takes the seeds and wraps them tightly in banana leaves. She usually places the leaves over the sink for a couple weeks.
Over that time, the pulp will ferment and liquid will run out of the leaves and into the sink. Fermenting allows the beans to develop their chocolatey flavor.
After a few days, she opens the leaves, gives everything a turn and rewraps the beans.
A couple weeks later, the pulp is replaced by thin, black, smelly films around the seeds. Essentially, the fermentation is over.
Now, it’s time to dance the cocoa. On cocoa estates, dancing the cocoa is similar to stomping grapes to make wine. But, mom uses old cloths and napkins to remove the black film.
Once the cocoa beans are clean, it’s time to dry them in the sun. They can dry for days and weeks in the hot tropical sun; but, never, ever, ever allow them to get wet. They will go bad.
There are a few sayings about this:
If you don’t have cocoa in the sun, you don’t have to worry.
When you have cocoa in the sun, look out for rain!
These mean if you avoid doing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. They are often used as finger-wagging sayings to persons who are considered corrupt or involved in unlawful activities.
From Dried Beans to Cocoa Balls
For this post, I didn’t use my mom’s cleaned, dried beans.
Hubby found the beans in the market for $3 (USD) per pound (and bought 2 lbs). He prefers not having to ferment the beans himself. Heh!
The first step is to roast the beans on medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir continuously to ensure the beans are evenly heated.
Heating makes the shells surrounding the beans brittle, making them easier to remove. Heating also reduces the bitterness of the beans.
Once roasted, allow to cool until they can be handled.
Now, it’s time to remove the shells. You can press and twist the shells to open them or you can pound the beans in a mortar and pestle and fan the shells away (the shells are much lighter than the beans).
With the beans unshelled, it’s time to grind.
I started with the food processor to save time. When the beans are ground into tiny pieces, they are called cocoa nibs. You can eat this raw or sprinkle on your oatmeal or desserts.
At this point, I switched to the grain mill – because that’s what my mom usually does.
After grinding three times, the cocoa butter in the beans begins to melt and soften the ground beans. You can add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg while grinding.
Next. separate into large balls and pop in the fridge for five minutes. Remove and shape the balls and that’s it!
Your very own Caribbean cocoa balls to make your very own cocoa tea. The balls will last for months, if not years in the fridge.
My mom switched from making the balls to making bars. To do this, add the ground cocoa beans to a tray and tap to spread everything out.
Pop in the fridge for ten minutes. Remove after and cut into 1-inch squares. Use one square to make the cocoa tea to skip all that grating.
Expect a quick video showing everything my mom, hubby and I did.
This process is messy so be sure to keep cleaning cloths on hand and wash up while the ground cocoa is still soft.
If you’re still here, look out for my next post on making your own cocoa tea.
By the way, you can skip all these steps and get cocoa balls on Amazon!
If you can’t find the balls, then make your own with organic cocoa nibs or beans from Amazon: