Take it away Sue...
My life has been turned around by my discovery of Raw Chocolate some years ago. I love sweet things, especially chocolate, but found more and more that sugar was giving me problems. I will never forget the moment when I realised somebody had invented chocolate that was sweetened in other ways. And it was made from something called Raw Cacao. So I began my sweet adventure.
|'Blue Agave' syrup|
First of all, for me, there was Agave syrup ~ that golden liquid made from cactus sap. The Blue Agave plant (Agave tequilana) produces tequila as well as the most valued Agave syrup. Evoking sunshine. Siestas. Sombreros. Beautiful to look at. Lovely to partake of during windy wet Welsh winters. As I began to create my own Raw Chocolate delights, I used this sweetener often.
In recent times there has been a lot of criticism about Agave, due to its high levels of fructose and, therefore, possibly detrimental effects on our health. Some damm it as one of the top ten worst foods you can consume ~ up there with aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. Confusing, though, because even as I write this, it is being sold as a healthy alternative to sugar by respected (even raw food) websites.
The Agave plant has medicinal qualities. I was very interested to learn that pulque, the fermented juice of the Agave cactus, was regarded as sacred by the Aztecs. To them it was a divine gift, not to be abused. The Tarahumara Indians believed that the soul of the Agave plant is extremely sensitive and must be treated with great respect so that it will continue to be willing to help humankind.
I rarely use Agave in my chocolates these days. I have moved on to making tempered chocolate and Agave wouldn't work well. I do have some on my shelf, however. There is a customer who asks for it in her chocolate. I like it mixed up with crème fraiche.
And, (I'd just like to whisper quietly), when I go past, I offer a nod of respect to an amazing plant. I hope it doesn't get too pissed off with us.
|The Blue Agave plant|