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Modica chocolate

"The chocolate of Modica and Alicante (and I don't know of which other Spanish towns): a dark chocolate of two types - vanilla and cinnamon - to be eaten or dissolved in a cup of unrivaled flavor, so that tasting it is like reaching the archetype, the absolute and the chocolate produced elsewhere - even the most celebrated - seems to be an adulterated or corrupted version..."
(Leonardo Sciascia, Sicilian writer)

The Modica chocolate is one of the culinary delights of Sicily, as well as a unique product for its "cold working", excluding the "conching" phase, making it grainy and crumbly. The term "conching" derives from the particular shell shape of the rollers, used in the manufacture of chocolate and was introduced for the first time in 1879 by the Swiss chocolate manufacturer Rudolph Lindt, in order to make the dough smoother and more attractive commercially.
The origins of Modica chocolate are closely linked to the "people of the fifth sun", the Aztecs, for whom the cocoa had an important role: nutritious food, financial support, symbol of high social position, mean to communicate with gods and good medicine. The ancient Mexican people used to roast the cocoa beans on a curved stone, called "metate", whose ends were resting on two supports and beneath which a fire was lit: later, the cocoa beans were crushed using a special stone rolling pin. The cocoa dough was flavored with several spices (vanilla, red pepper, cinnamon, exotic fruits, pepper) and rubbed on the "metate" until it was hardened and assumed a compact appearance.
After the conquest of Central America, the Spanish conquerors imported from the New World many of this products, totally unknown by the Europeans, including the "xocoalt"; during the XVI century, during the Spanish domination in Sicily, the chocolate beans were imported in the County of Modica, the most important feudal state in Southern Italy, with administrative autonomy.
Unlike what happened in the Kingdom of Italy and all over the Europe, the chocolate processing in Modica has always remained a craftsmanship production, handed down over the centuries as a special dessert of the noble families prepared during the celebrations.
The Modica chocolate is black colored with shades of dark brown; it is rustic, almost raw, with sugar granules well in sight, giving the product a marble shine. The cocoa taste is velvety and persistent, usually flavored with spices (cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, lemon or orange peels, mint or ginger). The cold working (max 35/40°C) allows it to maintain all its own organoleptic characteristics and to fully appreciate an intense cocoa aroma (min. 60% up to a max of 90%). For this reason it is a delight for very connoisseurs!

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