If you’re partial to a heavenly piece of chocolate (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) then you simply have to try a bar of cioccolata modicana from the oldest chocolatier in Sicily, Bonajuto (now available at FreshDirect). Read more to discover the fascinating story behind this enchanting chocolate.
The chocolatey tale of Bonajuto begins not in Italy, or even Europe, but in Mexico with the ancient Aztec civilization. When the Spanish discovered the New World they found an extraordinary variety of exotic foods. One of their favorites was xocoàtl, a delicacy made from cocoa seeds that was held in high regard as it symbolized strength, vigor and wealth. Xocoàtl was made using a special rolling pin made from stone, grinding the cocoa seeds on a tool called a “metate,” a curved stone placed on two traversal base stones, until the seeds became a paste.
During their domination in Sicily, the Spaniards introduced the method of making chocolate that they had learned from the Aztecs to the Sicilians. This recipe never became mass-produced in the rest of Europe and has remained unchanged through the centuries. The main difference between this chocolate and the chocolate produced elsewhere in Europe is that the mixture is kept at a temperature that prevents the sugar crystals from melting (something evident with every crumbly bite).
When Francesco Bonajuto founded his little cake shop in the picturesque setting of Modica back in 1880, he could’ve had no way of knowing that his boutique would still be thriving six generations on — and that 135 years later it would be sold by an online grocer named FreshDirect.
And now to the big question: How does it taste?
Our Senior Specialty Food Merchant, Ken Blanchette, says, “This is a chocolate bar for the aficionado.” Indeed, this is not your regular candy bar—this a rich, decadent chocolate with a slightly bitter but bright taste. Because the sugar isn’t melted during production, you can feel the grains crumbling onto your tongue with every bite—an unexpected but delightful taste sensation! While we’re on the subject of bites, Ken recommends taking only small ones, and then letting the chocolate melt a little on your tongue before biting again. And, because the product is raw, it maintains its nutritional value, which is just about as healthy as chocolate can get, right? Of particular curiosity for the more adventurous is the cioccolatini al pepperonicino, a dark chocolate lightly infused with chili pepper. The chili is not evident in the first couple of bites, but tickles the back of the throat with satisfying titillation upon devouring. It’s a perfect post-dinner treat to enjoy with coffee.
Know someone who is a chocoholic? Bonajuto makes the perfect gift! Check out the collection here.