Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando has become a cult obsession among chefs and Slow Food fans for the delicious dried heirloom beans he sources from Mexico and Central America. Among the many other foods he encounters on road trips into the holdouts of indigenous cultures, this stoneground chocolate ($14.95) from the Mexican state of Guerrero is one of my favorites.
Grown, toasted on clay pans and hand-ground by a collective of women in a remote village about a four-hour drive from Acapulco, the only additions to the chocolate tablets are unrefined piloncillo sugar and the soft cinnamon known as Canela. Without the tempering and high-tech fussing that European chocolatiers put their chocolate through, says California-based Sando, “It definitely feels like New World food, more pure and a little more savage.” I like his description: the molasses-like piloncillo lends deepness, and the stone grinding and spice impart a nubbly, aromatic quality.
With the chocolate, I go the super-rich route and blend it with a mixture of milk and heavy cream. But you can eat it out of hand, use it for a New World chocolate mousse, for mole or grated over oatmeal. Some fans mix it with hot water and top their chocolate off with whipped cream; Sando makes a lighter, everyday version with almond milk.