Xocodiva Artisan Chocolates of Puerto Vallarta
While visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte Semple and Carole Fast, the two ex-pat Canadian chocolatiers who (at that time) owned Xocodiva Artisan Chocolates in the heart of Puerto Vallarta (PV). Charlotte ran the retail shop with some very friendly staff while Carole made most of the chocolate in the Xocodiva workshop at a nearby location. Charlotte is highly creative, and took pleasure in designing the chocolates and helping develop the recipes for the Xocodiva creations.
The creative team of Semple and Fast–who hail from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada–moved to Puerto Vallarta in 2006 after searching for just the right Mexican location for their shop. With a lot of chocolate knowledge under their collective belts and the goal to create a new chocolate taste in Mexico’s favourite resort town, Xocodiva Chocolates was born. “Our philosophy is to mix European chocolate artistry with Meso American culture,” says Charlotte. “Our chocolates are European-style, but honour the different Mayan gods.”
Xocodiva offered five different chocolate bars made from Mexican-grown cocoa, and 38 different flavours of fresh chocolates from couverture that included ganaches, truffles, mendicants, and other confections. I loved the ganache made with locally sourced passionfruit blended with 73% dark and white chocolate. The optimum shelf life of the fresh chocolates is just 1-3 weeks, so enjoying the chocolates while visiting PV was a pleasure for visitors–especially their fellow Canadians!
I also loved the maple walnut ganaches, which are a tribute to the couple’s Canadian heritage, as they are made with Canadian maple syrup and are absolutely delicious! Another Xocodiva specialty was the candied orange peel made from locally grown oranges. “We bring the oranges up to a gentle boil, and then let them cool down and repeat the process over the course of nine days,” says Charlotte. “Because we’re in the heart of the tourist district, we get a lot of international tourists , so we cater to them by offering international flavours. In addition to our candied orange peels, the French truffles filled with French champagne is another popular specialty of our shop.”
Xocodiva also makes ice-cream and sells it at their ice-cream shop next door to the chocolate shop. What could be better than salted caramel with candied pecan, their most popular flavour? Look for the “Lix by Xocodiva” sign on Basilio Badillo. And if that’s not enough, Charlotte also coordinates the “Old Town Farmers’ Market” that offers more than 90 booths featuring locally grown and made products. I missed it on my most recent trip to PV. Maybe I’ll be lucky and will find my way to the market on my next visit to Puerto Vallarta, as I find local markets to be a highlight of my travels.
Update to post: I learned that in the fall of 2016, Xocodiva closed its doors as Charlotte and Carol chose to change their focus and move on to a new chapter in their lives. The business has been purchased by a dynamic couple that is now making chocolate in Puerto Vallarta under the Xoxodiva name. They don’t yet have a website, but you can then via facebook here.