Modica chocolate is experiencing a magical and special period, which began just a few decades ago, when the ancient chocolate recipe produced in the Sicilian town became an example of quality and excellence.
At the beginning of 2000, all of Italy and then the whole world discovered and rediscovered this type of chocolate, which differs from the others in terms of taste, quality of the ingredients and manufacturing process.
Currently, Modica chocolate is one of the most sought after ever. To what does he owe this fortune?
The rediscovery for the pleasure of a life on a human scale, the appreciation of artisanal and genuine food production methods also favored by the birth of the Slow Food philosophy, a new form of tourism that favors villages and cities of art, have certainly shifted the attention of consumers towards local and genuine products , far from the mechanisms of industrial production.
Modica chocolate fits perfectly into this scenario, being one with the culture and history of its city and earning the recognition of Protected Geographical Indication as Cioccolato di Modica PGI .
At this point you may be wondering: What is the difference between chocolate and PGI Modica chocolate? Of course, the difference does not lie exclusively in the place of production, but is linked to two fundamental components: ingredients and processing.
Ingredients of Modica Chocolate
Compared to other types of chocolate, the production of Modica chocolate follows a precise recipe that requires few ingredients.
At the base we find the cocoa mass which is obtained from the processing of roasted cocoa beans. The percentage of cocoa used in the recipe is indicative to define the chocolate.
Modica chocolate contains a minimum of 50% cocoa and up to 75%, for which it is defined dark Modica chocolate . Bars containing between 75% and 85% cocoa are defined as extra dark Modica chocolate . While a product with a percentage of cocoa between 85% and 95% is extra bitter Modica chocolate . Finally, we find pure Modica chocolate with a percentage of cocoa above 95%.
Once the percentage of cocoa has been removed, the remaining part is destined for sugars. Both white sugar and brown sugar can be used, even if the latter is much loved by connoisseurs for its unmistakable taste and for the size of the crystals which remain almost intact during processing.
Thus, cocoa and sugar are the basic ingredients of traditional Modica chocolate, but we can find numerous variations. Among the most popular versions we find those with the addition of spices such as chilli pepper and cinnamon , or with fruit such as lemon or orange , up to the dried fruit typical of the Sicilian territory such as Bronte pistachio and almonds.
What is certain is that they are all first choice ingredients and leave no room for additives, artificial flavors or colors in any way.
Another important feature of the Modica chocolate recipe is the absence of added cocoa butter . In fact, cocoa butter is present only in the natural quantity already contained in the cocoa beans, unlike other types of chocolate which include it in addition to the cocoa mass.
How Modica chocolate is produced
Let's see another fundamental feature that makes this product unique: the Modica chocolate processing technique. When choosing selected, high-quality ingredients, it is equally important to preserve them and keep their properties intact to ensure that the unique taste of chocolate can last for a long time.
It starts from the cocoa beans which must be of excellent quality. Currently they come from both South America and Africa. The cocoa beans are roasted and then ground to obtain the cocoa mass.
This mass is softened at a temperature that must not exceed 35-45° and is maintained in this way throughout the processing. This way when the sugar is added, it never melts completely and the crystals remain intact.
It is a cold working process that gives Modica chocolate its classic grainy consistency and allows you to distinguish the flavor of cocoa and sugar when they melt in your mouth.
As for the processing technique, some Modica chocolatiers prepare handmade Modica chocolate using a stone pastry board. This artisanal process is longer and more complex, but allows you to mix the ingredients without distorting their properties.
More modern working methods, even if respecting tradition, allow to better control all phases and to offer a more stable product thanks to the use of machinery.
We must specify that Modica PGI chocolate is without preservatives , therefore, it is a short-term food to be consumed within a few weeks. Yet, some precautions in the manufacturing process can extend its duration up to 18 months, once again avoiding the use of preservatives or additives.
This is the case of tempered Modica chocolate , which is worked with a controlled low temperature process which serves to stabilize the cocoa and offer the consumer a longer shelf life. Furthermore, by avoiding sudden changes in temperature, you will avoid the classic white patina that forms on the surface of the finished chocolate naturally due to sudden changes in temperature during processing.
Properties of Modica chocolate
There is much talk about the properties of chocolate , but if it is not prepared properly or is mixed with unhealthy ingredients, all the qualities are lost. This is why savoring Modica chocolate allows us to benefit from the extraordinary properties of cocoa and to understand why it has been called the food of the gods for centuries.
The best known and most immediate property is the release of endorphins which improve good mood. But the benefits of chocolate also lie in the antioxidant and anticoagulant function that protects the entire cardiovascular system.
We have no doubts in affirming that the majority of commercially available industrial chocolate bars frustrate the natural properties of chocolate because they are rich in sugars, added cocoa butter, colorings and preservatives, thickeners, oils and flavourings. Often with a negligible percentage of cocoa.
Modica chocolate made from high quality cocoa and with very few ingredients is perfect for those who want to enjoy the true flavor of chocolate and benefit from its natural properties.
How to use Modica Chocolate
So, how do you eat Modica chocolate? We are talking about a food to be enjoyed slowly. To enjoy all its benefits and perceive every aromatic note, a food of such goodness and authenticity must be savored slowly. Each piece of chocolate melts in the mouth leaving a sandy sensation due to the presence of whole sugar grains and the rough texture of the chocolate.
The characteristics of Modica PGI chocolate are combined with a series of recipes and preparations, from traditional Sicilian cuisine to the recent culinary creations of the chefs. Thanks to the fact that it is never excessively sweet, Modica chocolate is used in the most varied recipes and not only in desserts.
In the Ragusa area , Modica chocolate ravioli are typical, and chocolate is added to meat recipes or Sicilian caponata, with Sicilian wild thyme chocolate. Among the most famous desserts we find the ' mpanatigghi , the crescent-shaped biscuits typical of Modica. Furthermore, Modica chocolate in flakes is used in panettone, Sicilian doves and cannoli filling.
But the recipes with Modica chocolate are endless, you can use it to prepare biscuits, muffins, cakes, ice creams and drinks.
Protection consortium and PGI brand
The Consortium for the protection of Modica chocolate was founded in 2003 with the aim of uniting the Modica chocolatiers and drawing up a production specification that highlights the manufacturing processes and typical characteristics of chocolate.
In 2018 the European Union attributes the IGP mark to Modica chocolate, the first chocolate to obtain this recognition. Therefore, when we find the word Cioccolato di Modica PGI , we are dealing with a chocolate that meets precise processing standards.
When the brand is not there, how to behave? It should be noted that not all producers are part of the consortium or have requested the IGP mark, this does not mean that their Modica chocolate is less good or does not respect traditional craftsmanship.
We also find the words Antico Cioccolato di Sicilia (produced by Bonajuto) or more simply Cioccolato Modicano . In fact, there are ancient pastry shops and chocolatiers in Modica that prepare excellent chocolate with genuine ingredients. However, today it is very easy for the consumer to verify the origin and check the list of ingredients to be sure of tasting the real Modica chocolate.
Where to buy Modica chocolate online?
You will have noticed that it is not easy to buy this type of chocolate because it is not found in large retailers. This is why the online sale of Modica chocolate has grown.
This ancient and traditional product finds new life in online sales thanks to Modicani producers and distributors.
We at Bottega 27 give our best to select the best Modica chocolate and get it to your homes, all over the world. On our site we offer a vast assortment of chocolate: Modica PGI chocolate bars, organic Modica PGI chocolate, Bonajuto Ancient Sicilian Chocolate and Modica chocolate handmade by the best producers.
In addition, periodically you can order cannoli kits , Artisan Panettone , Colombe, 'mpanatigghi and other typical Sicilian sweets and fresh and dry pastries that contain PGI Modica Chocolate or Ancient Sicilian Chocolate , prepared by the best pastry chefs.
In this way, distribution is even simpler and more direct because it comes from the pastry shop to your table, although sometimes limited in quantity because it comes from artisanal production.
Modica chocolate has been compared to gold several times and we want to preserve its immense value.