When we met at an Italian coffee shop in Beverly Hills to catch up, she slipped me a bar of chocolate with a conspiratorial air: “I just couldn’t stop eating it” she told me “I kept on going back and to buy more. By the way, it makes you lose weight.”
Despite some articles being written about this particular chocolate being metabolized differently by our bodies, I am pretty skeptical on that count. What I am not skeptical on is how much I love the damned thing.
Cioccolata di Modica is made, well, in Modica, a lovely little Sicilian town. The method hasn’t changed in hundreds of years and is a bit reminiscent of the one originally used in Latin America but, while the Aztec cocoa was traditionally drunk, Modica chocolate is meant to be eaten. In large quantities – according to my stomach.
Modica chocolate’s main characteristic is that it only contains two ingredients (cacao and sugar) and is processed at an extremely low temperature (90F). Essentially, roasted cacao seeds are ground (once by hand, now in pretty low-tech machines) and mixed with sugar, then gently pounded to obtain a bar. This method, that has been in use since the 1700s, allows the chocolate to retain more flavonoids and tannin (not to mention far fewer calories than regular chocolate).
The end result is a chocolate bar that is less creamy to the palate than what we are used to but ridiculously addicting, especially if you do like the pure taste of cacao. It can be found in many flavors, ranging from 90% cacao to 70% to pistachio, orange, salt etc – I am partial to the pure flavor.
Because it does not contain cocoa butter, Modica chocolate does not melt and does not separate (and it can’t really be used to cook with, other than grate it over ice-cream).
My friend Luisa fell so hard for this chocolate, and afraid she wouldn’t be able to sustain the addiction here in Los Angeles, she has actually decided to import it. If you do see it around, read the label: Modica chocolate has to be made in Modica to be authentic (there are imitations out there which are not nearly as good). Here in LA, it can found, amongst other places where Luisa has been busy selling to, at the Cheese Store in Beverly Hills, Wine House in Culver City, Joan’s on Third, Vendome Patisserie (all locations), Beachwood Market and Pasta Sisters.
(What she doesn’t know is that, in exchange for this post, I expect a shipment of chocolate bars to see me at least until the end of the year…..)