"Cacao flowers were ingredients in perfumed baths, and thought to cure fatigue in government officials and others who held public office,"
says the Badianus Codex, published in 1552
The Cacao tree flowers' bloom in 2 cycles of 6 months the whole year round, thousands of 5-petalled tiny flowers adorn the stem and branches. Only a few will be fertilised, either naturally by flies (!) or by hand and no more than forty will develop into cocao pods.
It is from the amazing Cacao plant that we get the aromatic Cacao absolute. I have some here on a tester strip as I write, initially it is dark - like raw cocao nibs and dark chocolate (70-85%), a little bitter and spicy with an alcoholic liqueur note to it. The deep, warm quality to it is enveloping and intriguing, I noted that after about an hour it gets deeper, venturing almost into a woody territory - reminiscent of an empty grinding barrel after coffee or cacao beans have been pulverised - there's that trace of a burnt, bitter darkness.
Cacao (chocolate) is ruled by Venus the goddess of love, romance, sensual pleasures and fertility; on a therapeutic and esoteric level, the aroma of Cacao absolute soothes the heart chakra and encourages self-expression, it is relaxing and may help to increase creativity...(I always find after a few squares of 70% I am raring to hit my to do list!)
It appears that smelling the chocolate aroma seems to awaken in us that same pleasure we experience in eating it - but without the calories! It may be said that inhaling the aroma can reduce stress, anxiety and can reduce cravings. Women who drew a deep breath of the aroma of dark chocolate encountered a considerable drop in appetite, according to the journal 'Regulatory Peptides'. It works because ghrelin levels (which stimulate appetite) nosedive. So we may summise that it deceives the brain into believing the cravings are appeased. However, for some, inhaling food aromas may have the opposite effect!! I must admit though that smelling my natural Cacao absolute has not made me crave any food or chocolate; so it works for me..bring on Christmas, I shall remain a size 10!
I would suggest, that for perfumery+ fragrancing, you can use Cacao absolute to add a sensual enhancement to your blends. Its rich middle note is quite tenacious and would be a superb ingredient for erotic formulations; not only in perfume, but in diffuser blends, candles, bath soaks and oils.
Its heady deliciousness marries well with the following oils, but I think it works well with more adventurous pairings such as Angelica, Violet, Orris, Vetiver, Cepes absolute? Its interesting to enhance Cacao's earthiness + greener notes - too easy to take it too far down Hansel + Gretels' candy house territory!
- Rose otto/absolute
- Tonka bean
- Coffee absolute
- Mint absolute
- Orange Flower Absolute
- Ylang ylang
I particularly fancy a sprinkle of Cacao in a chypre combination with Vetiver, alternatively, a hint of it with an opulent, white floral, such as Jasmine and/or Tuberose - heady, decadent stuff!
This material is not for the shrinking violet, but for the indulgent 'Volupte' among you; those who enjoy hedonistic pleasures and abandoned indulgence. Cacao is a popular ingredient in many gourmand fragrances, and here are a few if you wish to indulge in a spray or two:
- Amour de cacao – Comptoir Sud Pacific
- Cacao - Aftelier
- blue agava and cacao - Jo Malone
- kokorico – Jean Paul Gaultier (male)
- L'Instant de Guerlain - Guerlain (male)
- Angel: le gout duparfum - Thierry Mugler **
- Coco - Chanel **
I can only vouch for Coco, Chanel** as it is one of my all time favourite orientals, and I usually receive compliments when I wear it - its familiarity never breeds contempt. I have also worn Angel** - in fact, I had the WHOLE range at one time; bath, body and spray perfume products! I must have suffocated everyone within a 5ft radius in a (delicious) gourmet cloud of candy floss, caramel and chocolate!! I do find it too obvious now, as it is so instantly recognisable .. but I still secretly like it.
I have smelt 'Kokorico' on a smell strip and although its a 'male' fragrance, I might wear it. It was quite dark, like a leathery/cocoa so I'd need to test on my skin just to be sure it doesn't end up smelling like burnt tar on me! I am tempted to try Jo Malone's Blue Agava + Cacao, I am not ordinarily tempted by JM due to her price vs scent longevity, but I may be swayed!!
Do you have favourite chocolate or 'gourmand' perfume? Do share! ..
I have a natural concoction of cacao/tobacco/tuberose blend brewing at the moment and shall report more when I have tweaked and reviewed it. I am sorely tempted to add a soupcon of recently received Mushroom absolute (Cepes) to the brew. Decisions, decisions...
My next and final post for 'Chocolate Week' will be on Chocolate Literature and some Artisan chocolatiere shops; what better way to pass a chilly, dark autumn evening than with a good book and curled up with some chocolate - liquid or solid! Join me...cashmere socks optional!