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New Heirloom Cacao

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© Katherine Page

American fruit importers Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley were scouting in the Amazon when, on some farms in a tucked-away corner of Peru's Maranón Canyon, they discovered cacao trees with canary-yellow pods. Even the local farmers were mystified about the identity of these strange-looking trees. So Pearson and Horsley sent some leaves to the USDA for testing and learned they'd made an extraordinary find: the Pure Nacional breed of cacao tree (left), thought to be extinct since the early 1900s. Pearson and Horsley have been experimenting with the pod's unique white beans (most cacao is purple) to create a distinctly mellow, nutty-floral chocolate. Recently, they were at New York's Institute for Culinary Education to launch Maranón Chocolate and chat about the discovery of the beans; the bars are now available online.

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