EVA Ritchelle Padua is building a chocolate factory one sweet bar at a time.
Padua, creator of Dulche Chocolates is building an empire inside her home; turning her love for sweets to what is now known as the first “bean to bar” chocolate in the Cordilleras.
“I am a chocolate lover talaga and I started to make my own when I bought a cacao pod and experimented to make chocolate,” she said.
Since 2014, Dulche Chocolates now has six flavors; Shewsins (Pepermint), Verde Te, Kape Arabica, which contains 50 percent dark chocolate, Strawberry which also contain 50 percent of dark chocolate, 70 percent Dark and 80 percent Dark chocolate and also sell Cocoa Powder and Tablea.
“We have steady orders, di naman nawawalan,” she added.
Padua process at least 150 kilos of cocoa monthly distributed in restaurants and shops in Baguio and Benguet with ingredients from the region, Arabica coffee is ordered from Atok while berries come from La Trinidad and cocoa is sourced from Apayao or the Mountain Province and Benguet, helping farmers.
To make their signature chocolate, the cacao beans must be fermented up to six days then dried under the sun, roasted and peeled to start the process of making the delectable homemade sweets.
A tedious process of chocolate oil extraction, pulverization and dehydration using a chocolate machine before molding and freezing.
“In the production, one kilogram of cacao beans can make 18 chocolate bars and we can make 150 kilograms in one month,” Padua said.
Padua added cacao is high in anti-oxidants that destroy the free radicals entering in the body, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, lowers severity of rheumatoid arthritis, anti-diabetics, reduces high blood pressures, reduces the heart diseases, improves digestion, lowers blood sugar and reduces stress.
Padua's small-medium enterprise is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, approved by the Department of Science and Technology and is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in the Philippines.
Padua dreams of having her own chocolate factory in the future and is now trying to build her own cacao farm. (With Emma Guillermo and Giovanni Galendez, MMSU interns)