Many people have asked me for a more detailed description of the origins of the chocolate used in our cakes. I hope you find it interesting.

Anillo del Fuego means the ring of fire along the Equator. The Pacific Ring of Fire or Circum-Pacific Belt is located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and is characterized by concentrating some of the areas of subduction in the world, causing an intense seismic and volcanic areas covered. “Strung around the world along the Equator (between 20ºN to 20ºS parallels of latitude), cacao growing regions lie in a ring of fire (anillo del fuego in Spanish).

Sur del Lago – Sur del Lago is one of the oldest and most interesting cacao growing regions in the world. Located in the tropical lowlands south and west of Lake Maracaibo in northwestern Venezuela, Sur del Lago offers cacao growers ideal conditions for growing high quality cacao – tall shade trees, tropical heat and ample water.

Over thousands of years, many different varieties of cacao trees have been brought to this region and flourished. As a result, Sur del Lago represents a genuine melting pot of natural, genetic crosses of cacao tree types with beautifully rounded chocolate flavors.

Cacao beans used to make E. Guittard Sur del Lago 65% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate are harvested from trees of Criollo and Trinitario heritage in Venezuela’s Sur del Lago region. In this chocolate, complex, well-rounded chocolate flavors are accented by subtle hints of red berry fruit.

Quevedo – Smaller Ecuador sits directly on top of the Equator, where cacao typically thrives. Historic cacao plantations literally dot the valleys of central Ecuador that lie between the Cordillera Costanera (coastal hills) and the Andean Cordillera Occidental.

Ecuador’s most desirable, centuries-old Forastero variety is found to the north, including in the region surrounding the town of. Here, it has been so protected from certain changes to other world cocoas that it is often referred to in its own right as “Nacional”. Unlike the CCN51 cacao type, which is bred for productivity in southern Ecuador, the rarified Nacional is noted for its pleasant floral aromas and flavors.

Chucuri – Origin: Northern Colombia in the San Vicente de Chucuri Valley in Santander. In Colombia, cacao is grown at elevations as high as 3,000 feet (~1,000 meters) primarily in the north-central part of the country. Hot, tropical climates and beautiful shade trees combine in the San Vicente de Chucuri Valley, roughly 500 miles north of the Equator, to create excellent conditions for growing high quality cacao.

Ambanja in Madagascar. The fertile Sambirano Valley, home to the town of Ambanja, is one of the few remaining places in the world that still has a large Criollo base and quality Criollo for purchase. Located along the northwestern coast of Madagascar, the valley is filled with beautiful palissander and mango trees that provide needed shade for the delicate Criollo trees.

Careful handling of the cacao beans, especially during fermentation, is key to achieving desirable chocolate flavors. For Criollo, a mere one to two days is optimal (whereas a five to seven day fermentation is optimal for Forastero)