GLENDALE (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- Not all of our state's splendors are a feast for the eyes, some bedazzle your tastebuds! Here's just a bite of Cerreta's chocolates!
"Our chocolate is made exclusively for us to our specifications," Joe Cerreta explained. "So, the beans are picked and aged for up to six years to get the acidity and the moisture correct. It's very smooth and very creamy, halfway between a european and an american chocolate. Just a little more robust."
"Peanut brittle is cooked to the proper temperature," Joe explained. "Butter is added; it's recooked again to develop the flavor of that butter. Top it off with a little bit of soda, a little bit of salt to make it easier to eat. It's poured on a slab, spread at nut height is what we aim for -- to make it the easiest to eat. [It's] cooled, cut and stretched, and pulled a little bit with gloved hands because that intense heat, and that makes it a little bit easier to eat so any age group can eat it. You don't necessarily have to be a teenager for your teeth to be strong enough to eat peanut brittle. It just crunches nicely in your mouth and dissipates very easy."
For the ingredients, Cerreta Candy Company works hard to keep them local.
"We bring our pecans in from southern Arizona -- Sahaurita -- it's the largest grower in the world, and some of the finest pecans. Pistachios are brought up from the Picacho Peak area. We bring the berries in, as much as we can, from Arizona."
"During production periods, that peak being from Thanksgiving to Easter, it's about 6,000 pounds a day of chocolate alone that we use," Joe said.
"This little guy," he said holding a mold, "during the Easter season, he'll be an Arizona jackrabbit! Actually it's a clip mold where we strip it out. Each mold is sterilized each time they're being used. It's filled with chocolate. The most important thing is to after it's clipped, to knock the air out. You want all the air brought to the surface so that you get a solid piece."
One of the many fun things about this legacy Arizona business it that it opens it doors to public to people can see behind the scenes.
"During the tours, we'll average better than 300,000 people a year come in and enjoy seeing what is going on and how things are being made."
Being around chocolate all the time, does it ever get old?
"Sick of chocolate? No! Can't happen!" Joe said with a smile. "I'll just go from light to dark or white to pink, and it's good for my heart!"
"My brothers, a couple of sisters, myself and my parents - this is what we do and it's a way of life for us."
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