We’ve been in the drinking chocolate game for quite a while and we’re finally launching our 100% cacao version. We’ve had a 100% cacao chocolate bar for several years, but we originally didn’t think there would be much demand for a drinking chocolate version. After years of requests for a 100% drinking chocolate, not just for drinking but for baking and other recipes as well, we decided it was time to launch it.
One of our earliest experiences with cacao and chocolate was our trip to Costa Rica in March of 2010. That trip was our official deep dive into chocolate. Up to that point, we had already been making chocolate at home and had been researching all things chocolate for the past year, but this was our first time visiting a cacao origin. We were part of an Ecole Chocolat course, led by Steve DeVries that year, who lived in Denver, but we were only meeting for the first time on this trip. We spent a week with the group traveling around Costa Rica and seeing a variety of ways that cacao is incorporated into Costa Rican culture, including growing, processing, native tribal use, chocolatiers, and even a small bean-to-bar cafe called Caribeans in the popular beach town of Puerto Viejo.
In Mayan and Aztec culture, cacao was made into a drink by grinding the cacao by hand, then mixing it with hot water and other ingredients such as honey for sweetness and achiote for rich, red color. The taste was more like an unsweetened cacao tea, with less of the traditional hot cocoa flavor that you might expect, due in part to the larger particle size of the hand-ground cacao, which makes the flavor less intense. We’ve had the privilege throughout the years to try several versions of this drink on different farms and native homes throughout the Americas, each with its own subtle differences. One of our most memorable cacao drink experiences was perhaps our first, at Caribeans in Puerto Viejo.
There were a lot of different chocolate-based treats and drinks to try at Caribeans, but the one that sounded the most exciting was the 100% cacao sipping chocolate. They made this by putting equal parts 100% chocolate to water in a metal steaming pitcher. Then, using the steam wand on the espresso machine they steamed it all together into a hot, thick mixture and served it in traditional 2-ounce espresso cups. They drizzled a little bit of a sweet chocolate sauce on the saucer to be used for taking small breaks from the more bitter sipping chocolate.
I remember how tasting it for the first time was very exciting. I’d never had anything like it in terms of its richness, but also its complexity of flavor. If we had ever tried to do this at home with regular grocery store-bought 100% chocolate (back in 2010), it would have been painfully bitter. But this sipping chocolate was made with locally grown, fermented, and harvested cacao, roasted lightly and refined gently, leaving loads of fruity, nutty, and other interesting flavors in the final product. It was so thrilling because I expected it to be difficult to drink, but instead, it was intensely flavorful and unexpectedly intoxicating. I acutely remember feeling energized and wanting more. From that moment, we both knew that this was something we wanted to introduce to the world when we finally had our own chocolate company—and it only took us 12 years.
Our new 100% drinking chocolate can be made exactly like this: with a steam wand, or just by using boiling water and a small whisk. If you want a little more creaminess and a touch of sweetness, try making it with hot milk. If you really want extreme richness, try making it with half and half or heavy cream. We recommend equal parts, by weight, drinking chocolate to liquid, but there’s room for customization here too, such as two parts liquid to one part chocolate. The other nice thing about the 100% version is that you can use it to make a traditional hot chocolate or iced drinking chocolate, and you can add your sugar of choice, such as maple syrup, coconut sugar or any other sugar-free sugar alternatives. And just like the sipping chocolate, we tried 12 years ago, our 100% sipping chocolate will have a complexity of interesting flavors.
100% ground chocolate can also be used for baking! Here is a great recipe from our very own pastry chef, Sophia.
10 Pitted Medjool Dates
1 cup Dried Cherries
2 cups Raw Almonds
2–3 tsp. Water
Pinch of Fine Sea Salt
1/2 cup 100% Ritual Drinking Chocolate
Put the dates, almonds, cherries, and sea salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is coarse-fine and somewhat crumbly. This will take a few minutes and you may need to stop and scrape the bowl down.
With the food processor still running, slowly add some of the water and continue to process (adding more water as needed) until the fruit and nuts form a ball.
Turn off the processor. Stir drinking chocolate into the fruit and nut mixture using a spoon.
Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls or press it into an 8×8-inch pan that has been lined with parchment paper.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.