Why Palmyra Sugar Will Become The Rebel Of The Chocolate World
JAPAN AND INDIA
Chocolate making is not just the sole domain of Belgium anymore or the USA. Chocolatiers start their small bean-to-bar productions all over the world. Also in Japan and India. And in these two countries, two chocolatiers make it even more exciting: they add palmyra sugar to their cocoa! The next step has been taken towards better chocolate: the replacement of the white sugar. And it is the perfect ingredient to disrupt the dominance of white sugar. Palmyra sugar will become the rebel of the chocolate world. Here is why.
Palmyra sugar is also hidden under the simple name palm sugar. Only do not confuse this with coconut sugar. Yes, correct: coconut sugar also comes from a palm tree (the Coco Nucifera), but palm sugar derives from an entirely different palm tree, the Borassus Flabellifer, a tree growing in India and Sri Lanka, but also being a national landmark in Cambodia, for example.
The lively and somewhat eccentric Japanese businessman Matsui is intimately involved with the hugely successful Ushio, the small chocolate company from his birthplace Hiroshima. Previously we had given Matsui a few kilos of cocoa beans from our Cambodian Kamkav Farm in the Mondulkiri province, and also a few samples of palm sugar powder that we, in turn, had received from the new company Oriental Sugar.
Matsui surprised us in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia with the result: a dozen chocolate bars from Ushio that they had made as a test. The creative minds of Ushio had used our Cambodian coco beans and only mixed it with 30 percent palm sugar powder and nothing else. The result was amazing. It was the first time for all of us that we tasted palm sugar in chocolate, and in this case, combined with our very own cocoa beans. I describe it as a very natural, intensely dark cocoa flavor, with a subtle, enjoyable aftertaste. There is only one problem: I can’t eat mass chocolate anymore. Consuming a chocolate bar of for instance Cadbury or Ritter Sport has become a criminal attack on my mouth. And I am not exaggerating.
CADBURY, TOBLERONE, AND HERSHEY’S
Who thought of chocolate from Japan and India thirty years ago? The chocolate world was dominated in an almost totalitarian fashion by Western powers such as Cadbury, Hershey’s and Toblerone. Traditionally, chocolate came from Belgium, Switzerland, Australia and the USA. You did not know any better. But the last ten years the chocolate world has made some new exciting turns. Small chocolatiers have stood up everywhere. Some buy their chocolate mass from producers such as Callebaut, but more and more chocolatiers buy their beans directly from cocoa farmers and process them into chocolate bars. Hence the name ‘bean-to-bar.’
A small research online on other chocolatiers who use Palmyra sugar in their chocolate brought only one other chocolate maker to light: Earthloaf; an exotic artisan in the South Indian region Mysore, initiated by a western duo David and Angelika. They make 100% Indian bean-to-bar products. All the essential ingredients come from ‘the country beyond the Indus’: cocoa, palm sugar, and coconut oil.
None of us have had the chance to taste their Indian chocolate, but the online reviews are generally very favorable.
Earthloaf is rebranding their name to Naviluna.
THE WAR AGAINST WHITE SUGAR
One thing is certain. The small bean-to-bar chocolatiers are experimenting with alternatives to white sugar. And with good reasons, because it has become increasingly clear that refined white sugar is the basis of many modern diseases: from diabetes to breast cancer.
Some chocolatiers turn to an unrefined version of the primary product of white sugar: sugar cane. Others try it with coconut sugar or stevia.
Personally, I am a big fan of iChoc, the small ‘vegan’ chocolate bars from the German quality company Ecofinia. They usually use coconut sugar in their iChoc bars. I remember well when I tasted this for the first time. I was immediately sold and went back to buy more bars. Starting from my experience with the coconut sugar, it was no surprise to me that the palm sugar is doing so well in the test chocolate of Ushio. When it comes to taste coconut sugar, and Palmyra sugar both have a similar effect on the taste buds. And another super benefit of these sugars is the low GI, the low impact on your blood sugar level.
I also tried to appreciate stevia as a white sugar substitute (for example in Cavalier’s chocolate, but I can not get used to it. The Cavalier bars are undoubtedly made with care, and I appreciate the courage of Cavalier to use stevia, but maybe it is my experience with stevia in many other products like the instant coffee from Papparich: it is not spent on me.
The chocolate world is busy with a colossal catch-up. There are now 67 states where cocoa is grown, and more and more chocolatiers are emerging who settle in the same countries of production and directly buy the cocoa beans from the farmers without intermediaries. Earthloaf is an excellent example of this. But there are also small chocolatiers in countries where cocoa growing is not an option, who also directly purchase their cocoa from local farmers in other countries. The Japanese Ushio does this by buying small batches in Guatemala, Honduras, Papua New Guinea and soon also from our own Kamkav Farm in Cambodia.
And many of these new chocolatiers go one step further: they are looking for white sugar substitutes. And as far as I’m concerned, coconut sugar and palm sugar seem to be the big winners for both taste and health. But the best cards are for Palmyra sugar, mainly because it can be produced cheaper
Have you been able to taste white sugar alternatives in chocolate? And which ones are your favorites?
Who is Kamkav Farm?
We from Kamkav Farm produce the very first cocoa in the history of Cambodia. We are located in the ‘wild east,’ in the remote, hilly province Mondulkiri, with huge waterfalls and wild elephants roaming the deep forests. Almost half of the employees of Kamkav Farm are Phnong tribal members. At the end of 2019, Kamkav Farm will receive an organic NOP and EOS certification.
If you want to contact us, please contact us here or email to firstname.lastname@example.org