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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Editor's Choice: Chuao Chocolatier

With local Chicago windchills dipping down into the negatives this week, the first thing on my mind after my frigid morning commute is a steaming mug of hot cocoa. In light of the recent temperature drop and me needing my morning chocolate fix, I have come to believe that the best kind of cocoa is one that warms you from the inside out, one that combines rich, velvety cocoa with the warmth of pasilla chiles, cayenne pepper and subtle spices for an experience that goes beyond taste to for an appealing mouthfeel and an aroma that will have you seriously debating that second mug-full. The cocoa that has most frequented my mug this week is the Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate from Chuao Chocolatier (pronounced chew-WOW).

Chuao's Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate draws its flavor profile from the ancient Mayan culture, one that considered chocolate the food of the gods. The drink that the ancient culture enjoyed, however, was unsweetened, while the mix in Chuao's tin creates a smooth, sweet beverage with just the right amount of spice-driven heat.

Chuao was founded by Venezuelan brothers Michael and Richard Antonorsi. Michael is a master chef whose mission is to create a treat for all of the senses by combining unusual ingredients for a surprising, delightful outcome. But the Antonorsi brothers don't just create a wonderful chocolate experience; part of the company's mission is to safeguard the future of Venezuelan cacao production. Through the Aguasanta Growth Initiative (named after the Antonorsi's small family farm), Chuao helps to fund programs that teach Venezuelan cacao farmers better techniques for harvesting crops and classifying local cacao varieties. There is also a program that sends a "Cacao Specialist" to aid farmers who have questions or concerns about their crops.

For more information on Chuao Chocolatier, visit the website,