In June of 2013 I took a research trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca. While I was in Mexico City, I was fortunate enough to have a tasting with Héctor Galvan of La Casa Tropical. Héctor founded La Casa Tropical with the philosophy of modernity, origin and movement. Sourcing his cacao from from plantations in Tabasco and Chiapas nearly lost to commercial agriculture. Using a wide range of native beans from distinct ecosystems, La Casa Tropical has developed three varieties of Mexican chocolate developed from three native beans: C1 (Carmelo 1), UR (Uranga) and RX (Real Xoconusco).
After our initial meeting, and a great deal of mutual respect was exchanged, we decided that a collaboration was in order. From the start I wanted to create a set of unique bars honoring the history and heritage of Mexican chocolate and cuisine. I feel that I have done that with the three bars: Champurrado, Mezcal, and Molé Negro.
Upon first bite of La Casa Tropical’s Caramelo 1 from Cunduacán, Tabasco Briggs knew this was a special chocolate calling for a warm and comforting inclusion. The nostalgia of champurrado is something that lives in the minds of every native Mexican and its flavors encompass the roots of Mexican cuisine. Dried corn gives this beverage its body and consistency while cinnamon and star anise give it life. Briggs takes each ingredient of this classic beverage and emulsifies it into the Caramelo 1 chocolate. The brightness of this chocolate complimented with the nostalgic warmth of champurrado creates a bar that is quite unique and not easily forgotten.
La Casa Tropical’s 65% Real Xoconusco (RX) from Soconusco, Chiapas is known as the grandfather of cacao varieties. This concept bar mirrors the way mezcal is served throughout Mexico and is comprised of mezcal soaked RX nibs, slivers of candied orange peel and a hint of worm salt. The smoky masculinity of mezcal, the brightness from the orange and the heat from the worm salt bounce around on the palate brining forth the undertone of ash, wood and fruit of the RX.
This bar uses La Casa Tropical’s 69% Uranga chocolate from Pichucalco, Tabasco to fuse the flavors of Mexico’s most recognized dish into a deeply flavored chocolate bar. Using a classic recipe for mole negro, the earthy profiles of the chocolate sing along with the complex flavors of what is known as the “king of moles.” Tomatoes, chiles, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, bread, sugar, chocolate, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and a merriment of spices work harmoniously with the Uranga’s flavors of wood, nuts and red wine.