Tropical Cooking with Travel Man: Home-Made Sweet Cacao Bars from Bicol, Philippines

Getting Familiar with Cacao

I used to chew Cacao beans when I was a child. I still am, until now.I grew up, getting cacao-struck due to the its amazing sweetness.

My mother, after my sisters brothers and I sucked and licked the sweetness of the said beans, will always sun-dry it for two or three days. Then, she will roast it, removing the outer shell and ground it with sugar. Adding pure coconut milk, then boiling it to make a cocoa or cacao latte is enough to make breakfast a hearty one.

In case, you didn't know:

Cacao or Cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) belongs to family Sterculiaceae (alternatively Malvaceae). Its seeds (sweet beans) are primarily used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.

The scientific name Theobroma cacao was given to the species by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Theobroma means “food of the gods” in Latin, and cacao is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word xocolatl, from xococ (bitter) and atl (water).

How did Cacao became popular in the Philippines?

No one can resist the aroma of freshly boiled cacao latte.

It is usually served with boiled glutinous rice wrapped in coconut leaves (we usually call it ibos).

Festive events, such as barangay fiesta or annual celebration, especially Christmas season in the Philippines will never be happily celebrated without the presence of Cacao-made products, like cacao tablea (pure cacao chocolate) or cacao bars (others make it as cacao balls) for the tsokolate (Filipino term) or chocolate drink (usually enriched by boiling it with coconut milk).

Just a glimpse in world history, Filipinos can give credit or thanks to Mother Spain by bringing cacao here in the Philippines, its colonized country, way back 15th century as explorer Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal (working for the Queen of Spain).

Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez who visited the homecourt of King Montezuma of Mexico (1519)and witnessed and savored the very enticing beverage called "chocolati" brought it back to Spain, where at first, it is hidden away in Spanish monasteries, where monks processed the cocoa beans and make chocolate a big,big secret for almost a century.

Back to reality, the production of cacao in the Philippines is one of the big factor in the food industry to generate more jobs and income among farmers in the agricultural sector.

It is now included as one of the high-value crops (through Republic Act 7900) by the Department of Agriculture and trainings are always conducted for those who are interested in investing capital in cacao production.

Just dig this:

  • A single healthy pod could produce a minimum of 200 grams of dried cocoa seeds.
  • A single cacao tree can produce an average of 20 healthy cacao pods.
  • On the average, each cacao tree can give you at least 3.5 kilos of dried cocoa seeds, which is equivalent to Php575.00 (Php150.00/kilo) of additional income!

Cacao trees are suited in tropical countries, like Philippines. Home-propagated seedlings can give you fruits (Cacao pods) after 5 years, but the agriculture department is enhancing its growing capability as disease-resistant and can continuously give fruits, once given a proper care.

I also planted several young Cacao trees five years ago (in 2010). I still have to see it bear fruits one of these days.

Sweet Cacao Bars

Easy-to-Make Sweet Cacao Bars by TravelMan1971 Photo Source: Ireno Alcala
Easy-to-Make Sweet Cacao Bars by TravelMan1971 Photo Source: Ireno Alcala

Please rate my Sweet Cacao Bars

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Making Sweet Cacao Bars as Livelihood Project

Once you read this hub, I will encourage you to do the same and improve it.

You see, making sweet cacao bars can make a profit while at home.

Yes! It will inspire at-home mothers to a have a productive past-time and at the same time, making an additional income for the family.

Those cacao seeds being thrown at the backyard of your homes will bring fruitful ideas inside your kitchen.

It's not only for mothers; it's for dads, too. Or the couple can make a more engaging relationship by having a quality time with other members of the family (bonding moment) by making sweet cacao bars.

Who knows? It can spawn into a big chocolate business soon.


From Cacao Beans, Tablea and Chocolate

Ripe Cacao Pods (Photo Source: Posted by Amadeo, way back March 22, 2006, a Filipino of Tracy, California, USA via his blog: theignatianperspective.blogspot.com)
Ripe Cacao Pods (Photo Source: Posted by Amadeo, way back March 22, 2006, a Filipino of Tracy, California, USA via his blog: theignatianperspective.blogspot.com)

My grand aunt encouraged me to make this sweet cacao bars..

My grand aunt, an old but still an active 80 year-old cousin of my mother, used to bring farm products from the uplands, at our doorsteps, in exchange of money or a barter of rice to augment her day-to-day living.

One of her most treasured products is to give me kilos of roasted cacao beans once Christmas season is just around the corner.

She makes it a priority to always provide me my main ingredient as December approaches, and so, my journey in making this Sweet Cacao Bars began.

Roasted Cacao Beans

Photo Source: Ireno Alcala
Photo Source: Ireno Alcala

Main Ingredients in Making Sweet Cacao Bars

  • 1 cup Cacao beans, roasted
  • 2 cups sugar, brown
  • 1 tablespoon water, hot

A very easy procedure when making Sweet Cacao Bars

  1. Roast the Cacao beans until golden brown or blackish brown.
  2. Ground it to a high-speed grinder until finely ground.
  3. Add the brown sugar. Tilt, shake the container until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add the hot water. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Shape into bars and wrap it with clean paper (bond paper will do), Makes 9 bars. Refrigerate for future use.

How easy is the Sweet Cacao Bars to make?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Grounding the Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)Ground Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)Adding Brown Sugar to Cacao Beans (Photo Source:Ireno Alcala)Adding Hot water to Cacao Mixture (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)Forming the  Mixture into Cacao Bars (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Grounding the Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Grounding the Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Ground Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Ground Cacao Beans (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Adding Brown Sugar to Cacao Beans (Photo Source:Ireno Alcala)
Adding Brown Sugar to Cacao Beans (Photo Source:Ireno Alcala)
Adding Hot water to Cacao Mixture (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Adding Hot water to Cacao Mixture (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Forming the  Mixture into Cacao Bars (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Forming the Mixture into Cacao Bars (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)

Uses of my Homemade Sweet Cacao Bars

My mom is my most honest critic when it comes to my cooking,

So, she got a taste test of my product and said that it still has a bitter aftertaste of unsweetened cacao.

She added a bar in a cup of hot water to make a cacao drink.

The rest, I stored it inside the refrigerator for another project which I will be making...maybe a dozen cup cakes for snacks or a pint of homemade ice cream.


Red and Yellow Cacao Trees with Pods

The yellow and red varieties of Philippine Cacao (Photo Source:http://metrocebu.com.ph/)
The yellow and red varieties of Philippine Cacao (Photo Source:http://metrocebu.com.ph/)

Nutritional Value of my Sweet Cacao Bars

Nutrition Facts
Calories 342
Calories from Fat342
% Daily Value *
Fat 38 g58%
Saturated fat 8 g40%
Sugar 75 g
Sodium 35 mg1%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

The Caloric Intake for the Sweet Cacao Bars

I derived it from the Calorie Value of a sweet chocolate bar as provided by Super Tracker site: supertracker.usda.gov.


Related Literature: Health Benefits of Cacao

Like what I've been saying in my food hubs, we are what we eat or so, drink.

Even though, it is being compared with coffee beans as stimulating beverage, cacao or cocoa drinks is more nourishing rather than acting as stimulants, in order to keep us awake.

Cacao beans contain natural chemicals called flavonoids, a type of antioxidant compound that promotes general health and might lower your risk of several diseases. One type of flavonoid, called anthocyanidin, is especially high in cacao beans, along with other compounds called epicatechins.

The flavonoids help our body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower our blood pressure and improve heart health. The flavonoids in hot chocolate also help prevent platelets in your blood from mingling together and forming clots.

Even small amounts of cocoa can reduce cholesterol in the blood, and can lower blood pressure. Even more, regular intake of cocoa has been shown to improve overall function of vein and arteries.

Production of Sweet Cacao Bars aka Commercial Chocolates

Photo source: http://static.rappler.com/
Photo source: http://static.rappler.com/

Cacao as Superfood

The video you are about to see is the contribution of Superfood Evolution channel at YouTube, providing informative details about Cacao.

It has links to other channels enumerating the health benefits , culinary uses and the importance of Cacao in the food industry around the world.

Cacao Beans, Natures Raw Chocolate c/o SuperfoodEvolution

This hubber is indebted to:

  1. eco-philippines.com for providing additional facts about cacao.
  2. hvcdp.da.gov.ph official site of Department of Agriculture of the Philippines for focusing on High Value Crops Development Program (RA 7900) such as Cacao.
  3. medicalhunter.com for providing a first-rate of Cocoa or Cacao as The Health Miracle.
  4. secrets-of-longevity-in-humans.com for discovering the raw essence of cacao as agent in longevity.

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8 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

What the heck? I'm willing to try it. If I succeed it will be delicious. Thanks for the idea and recipe, my friend.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 14 months ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ billybuc: I'm sure you'll succeed, Sir Bill. It's a very easy recipe which you can accomplish in a jiffy. :) Thanks for dropping by.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean

Your recipe seems quite simple. Thanks for all this interesting information on how to use the cacao, and the benefits that can be derived from it.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 14 months ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ MsDora Thanks,to you, too, MsDora. Yes, it's so easy and you can add flavors on it, since it's a base for chocolate production. :)


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 14 months ago from New Delhi, India

This sounds very interesting and yummy!

Sweet Cacao bars recipe seems quite simple to make by your description. Thanks for sharing all the beautiful pictures and interesting information on how to use the Cacao, and it's benefits.

Thank you!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I enjoyed your hub about cacao very much. I love cocoa and use it a lot. Thank you for sharing all the information. I'm eager to try the recipe!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 13 months ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ChitrangadaSharan: Yes, it is, Ma'am. I'm sure you'll gonna love making Sweet Cacao Bars.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 13 months ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@AliciaC: Yes, you can, Ma'am. Thanks for the hub-visit. I'm sure you'll love my recipe. :)

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