Stuart, Fla.—Dark chocolate is good for you. At Castronovo Chocolate they make dark chocolate from ethically sourced cocoa beans in Direct and Fair Trade purchases from Central and South American farmers. Owned by Jim and Denise Castronovo, this is the only South Florida artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate factory. “The best time to visit is on Mondays when we roast our beans,” said Jim during a recent tour.
All their ingredients are organic like the naturally fermented heritage cocoa beans, evaporated cane juice, and cocoa butter.
Along with low temperature roasting, Denise, the chocolate maker, also cracks the beans to get to the nibs. These are then winnowed and ground into a paste. Next comes the melanger machine that conchs the paste with movement and warmth to remove bitter acids from the chocolate.
“This is my favorite part,” Denise said, with a huge smile, about the conching process, “I love tasting the chocolate when it is in this machine.” She grabbed a handful of clean spoons and giggled as she dipped each into the moving, warm chocolate.
Handing them out to the audience of Foodies on the tour, she said, “It is low in sugar. We put it in a few hours ago and it will continue overnight without stopping.”
It was a delicious full flavored spoon of heavenly chocolate. And the low sugar content actually helped the flavors shine. “Our chocolate is like wine, no two batches taste the same,” said Denise.
Tempering and molding are the final stages of the week-long bean-to-bar process.
Everything is made by hand with techniques pulled from the early 19th Century. Jim and Denise even wrap each 4 oz. bar of single-origin chocolate by hand. Oh and they also make truffles and chocolate chip cookies.
To find out more about Castronovo Chocolate you can visit their factory/shop Mon. to Fri. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. They are located at 555 S Colorado Ave., Stuart, FL 34994, Phone (561) 512-7236