52 Reasons to Love Sicily
#8. In Modica, you can taste more than a dozen different flavors of chocolate at the chocolate factory. That’s because in the 16th century, Spanish nobility in the southeastern Sicilian UNESCO recognized town were blessed with cacao beans and an ancient Aztec drink called xocóatl, brought from the New World. Their chefs thought the bitter xocóatl would taste better in concert with the sugar Sicilians possessed thanks to the Arabs, and they were right!
Employing a method and recipe that still exists today, the chefs used a mortar and pestle to ground the beans into a paste. They then heated the paste to 45 degrees centigrade, a temperature at which the cocoa doesn’t completely become a liquid. At this point, they mix by hand the warm paste together with sugar granules, suspending (and never melting) the sugar into the cocoa paste. Once the mixture (often infused with an essence of other flavors or ingredients such as pistachio or even Nero d’Avola wine) cools to room temperature, it becomes a robust, hard delight–a unique chocolate particular to Modica.
When you visit, participate in a chocolate demonstration and tasting.
(Pictured: Antica Dolceria Bonajuto in Modica, Sicily)