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After more than a hundred years in the wilderness, one of the most highly valued varieties of cacao ever known is once again, producing exquisite chocolate prized by chefs around the world. Ecuador's Pure Nacional cacao bean was thought have become extinct but through a chance discovery in Peru and a sophisticated laboratory in the United States, the Pure Nacional is back in business.
Chef Michelle Tampakis makes some of the most exquisite chocolate truffles in New York. Apart from her own talent, she also has the benefit of a pure, unadulterated and very rare chocolate from a cacao bean called Pure Nacional..until recently thought to be extinct.
[Michelle Tampakis, Chef, Institute of Culinary Education]: (English, female)
"It has a flavor that is intensely chocolatey without the bitter after-taste that is associated with most cocoa beans."
A few years ago in a remote valley in Peru, Brian Horsley and his partner came upon a canyon populated by a tree they had never seen before.
The trees were producing unusually large pods containing large numbers of white colored beans.
Most cacao beans are purple, so a curious Brian Horsley sent leaf samples off to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service for DNA analysis.
Drs. Lyndel Meinhardt and Dapeng Zhang were eager to get to work.
[Dr. Lyndel Meinhardt, USDA Agricultural Research Service]: (English,female)
"In the past, white-seeded material has been associated with fine flavor so I was very excited about it."
The two scientists were able to establish that Horsley's samples were indeed Pure Nacional.
[Dr. Lyndel Meinhardt, USDA Agricultural Research Service]: (English,female) NO TITLE BAR
"I was completely blown away. It was one of those really shocking moments and say this is an unprecedented find."
For the farmers and community, chocolate has never tasted so sweet.