Inside the sprawling, lush grounds of Malagos Garden Resort in Barangay Malagos in Davao City is the first chocolate museum in the Philippines.
It was built by the children of Bert and Charita Puentespina. The family grows chocolate—fermented, dried, sorted out, roasted and produced in their own farm.
Mrs. Puentespina, one of the pioneers of orchid culture in the country, spearheaded cacao planting in Mindanao in 2003.
Malagos chocolates are made through the combined efforts of many, especially the farmers. Mrs. Puentespina’s advocacy is to train the farmers to improve their knowledge in cacao growing. To promote their cause further, she buys the beans that the farmers grow.
Premium chocolate comes from quality beans. Not all cacao beans are alike, depending on the variety and the environmental factors that affect the crop.
Malagos cacao beans are produced in the foothills of Mount Talomo. The rich soil and favorable climate make it ideal to grow cacao.
The Trinitario is considered one of the finest cocoa beans in the world. It is a hybrid, a cross between the Criollo and Forastero.
“Our cacao beans are grown in one single area or region,” said Rex Puentespina. “Cacao beans sourced from only one particular region carry with them a more distinctive and pronounced taste.”
How the beans are processed determines the outcome of the finished product.
For grinding, a ball mill that grinds beans up to 25 microns is utilized. Precision-controlled roasting heats the beans to the correct temperature. This preserves its delicate aroma.
The chocolates are then further improved by a process called tempering. Proper tempering gives chocolates a desirable gloss and firm snap.
While advocating the use of modern technology in the production of chocolates, Rex said the family remains true to age-old traditions in the growing of chocolates.
The Puentespinas have put the Philippines on the chocolate map. The Malagos brand has won nine international awards.
At the museum, the tree-to-bar process is made interesting with the aid of graphics, audio visual presentations, audio lectures and interactive displays.
The actual machines inside the chocolate factory can be viewed from the Chocolate Bar where food and drinks made of chocolate can be enjoyed.
Further down the facility is a Chocolate Laboratory where guests are invited to make their own chocolates.
The museum also has the Chocolate Park, a garden with 3D installations of different desserts.
The Malagos Chocolate Museum aims to educate and to impart a better appreciation of the chocolate-making process.
Here are some Malagos Chocolate recipes:
Malagos Signature Hot Chocolate Drink
(This recipe won the bronze, Unflavored Drinking category, at the 2015 Academy of Chocolate Competition in London.)
Pour 1/2 cup water into a heavy saucepan. Put pan over low heat and add 2 to 3 pieces of Malagos Pure Unsweetened Chocolate.
Whisk to dissolve.
Add 1/4 cup milk, add some brown sugar or any sweetener you wish. Stir until frothy. Pour hot chocolate into a cup. Serve immediately.
Malagos Signature Brownies
(This recipe is from Jill Sandique.)
135 g or 15 pc Malagos Pure Unsweetened Chocolate
1 c unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 c sugar
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sifted all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and line a 9×9 inch square pan. In a double boiler combine chocolate and butter.
Stir until butter melts.
Set aside to cool.
In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, honey, salt, vanilla at medium speed 3-5 minutes.
Stir in chocolate-butter mixture. Fold in flour. Blend well.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate Fondue
(This recipe is also from Sandique.)
500 g of Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate in rounds
1,000 ml heavy whipping cream
For dipping: Marshmallows, slices of fruits, biscotti, chip cookies, sweet bread.
Melt chocolate in a double broiler. Whisk in the heavy cream and mix well.
Pour mixture in a fondue pot or a fountain.
Serve with fruits, marshmallows, etc.
If chocolate becomes too thick, add more cream.