The pasalubong (or travel gift) is a tradition that has long been embedded in our Philippine culture. So most often when our balikbayan family or friends, who live in a far away place, return to the Philippines, they bring back a gift of some kind from their respective origin. Those from the USA, for instance, usually bring home packs of Hershey’s chocolates or American branded products.
On the other hand, us Filipinos, usually bring our foreign friends/relatives dried mangoes, pearls, or Philippine handcrafted products whenever we visit their country. Chocolate is the least popular idea to give because we used to not have a milk chocolate that meet strict international standards. In addition, a lot of us have a mindset that imported chocolate often tastes better than Philippine made.
We finally can reciprocate with fine proudly Filipino chocolates to our foreign friends/relatives and remove the colonial mentality.
Auro, a new player in the chocolate making industry, elevates the quality of chocolate in the Philippines to a whole new level.
The founder, Jacqueline Go, noticed that an artisanal chocolate company in the US utilizes cocoa beans from Davao. This sparked the idea of creating Filipino chocolate that is made by Filipinos and not only for Filipinos. It eventually turned into reality as they ventured into the heart of Davao and met cacao farmers who were pivotal in discovering the rarest heirloom cacao variety, the Criollo Porcelana.
Deemed as the purest and most coveted variety in the world, this variety is only 0.1% of the world’s total cacao population. It’s refined, blended, polished, and transformed with other two cacao varieties: Forastero and Trinitario. In the near future, Auro aims to release pure Criollo Porcelana chocolates as they currently cultivate such variety.
With Criollo chocolate remarkable as gold, the founders eventually named their company as AURO from the combination of the words, Au, the chemical element symbol of gold, and Oro, a word that means gold in Filipino and Spanish.
Auro as a Bean-to-Bar Company
Auro involves themselves in every step of the process on creating the finest single-origin and cocoa products.
They developed a holistic program that helps their farming partners, who share the same values, attain the necessary tools and skills they need to have the best yield and quality of the cocoa beans.
Afterwards, Auro directly purchases from them in a premium price. Their farming partners are then incentivized to improve quality and cultivate better varieties because they themselves experience a better quality of life.
One of the farmers who attests it is Mr. Nestor Auza who used to only have eight (8) cacao trees, They did not know how to take care and grow it but Auro showed them the way. He then realized that cacao is a good source of income for them.
The premium fermented cocoa beans produced by their farming partners are then processed with all-natural ingredients in their Calamba, Laguna facility. Auro elevates the standards of cocoa Philippine production with their 2, 000 sq.m. modern chocolate factory that is set up by the world’s leading equipment manufacturers such as Netzch, Buhler and Sollich. Designed to adhere to the strictest international standards, they are set to obtain GMP and HACCP certifications.
Aside from the production of fine Auro chocolate, the factory also facilitates learning and collaboration. Public and professionals alike can visit to appreciate the bean-to-bar chocolate making process that they do.
Auro had an official launch in Manila House Private Members Club at Bonifacio Global City. Chocolate enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, family and friends of the owners, people from the media, and fellow bloggers attended the event.
Savory dishes were prepared using Auro chocolate. However, since I came in late from another event, I didn’t get to enjoy it.
Good thing I was still able to try the hot cocoa using Auro’s cacao. It has a very thick and rich taste that is unlike any other hot cacao I’ve ever tried.
Managing Directors, Kelly Go (daughter of the founder) and Mark Ocampo collaborated with esteemed pastry chefs to showcase the versatility and quality taste of Auro chocolate.
Chef Peachy Juban presents DING, ANG BATO. It is a pop-in-the-mouth confection of upland coffee on carabao’s milk centers coated with Auro 64% dark milk chocolate.
Chef Sunshine Puey presents CHOCOLATE SILK WITH HAZELNUT CRUMBLE. It is made with Auro 72% dark chocolate ganache, 64% dark and 42% milk chocolate custard topped with roasted hazelnut and sea salt crumble.
Chef Richie Manapat presents SOURDOUGH RUM BABA that is a sourdough bread with Auro 77% dark chocolate. The slow-fermented bread was soaked in rum and glazed with wild berries.
Finally, Chef Miko Aspiras demonstrated how he does the finishing touches to the three desserts he created using Auro chocolate.
This one is “BUBBLES,“ an Auro white chocolate mousse with fleur de sel, salted egg creme brulee, vanilla sponge, caramel walnut mousse, Auro 72% dark chocolate, and walnut crouqant.
Meanwhile, this one is “THE BLOCK” made of Auro 42% chocolate mousse, Pili nut butter mousse, raspberry confiture, vanilla sponge, marshmallow and rice crispies crust, 42% milk chocolate and milk jam glaze.
The created desserts which we enjoyed definitely highlighted the distinctive taste of Auro chocolate. Also part of the celebration is the launch of their Davao-Origin chocolate collection.
Auro’s Davao-Origin Chocolate Collection
Their pure cocoa is available in nibs and mass. The nibs are cocoa beans that have been roasted, separated from their shell, and broken into smaller pieces. It’s basically crunchy yet tender chocolate that can be used as an ingredient or can be eaten as a healthy snack. Meanwhile, cocoa mass is made from cocoa nibs that have been finely ground to create a smooth cocoa mixture. It’s used for intensifying the flavor of chocolate creations.
Bakers can bring both their simple and complex confections to life with its smooth and creamy texture. Taste wise, it has a full-bodied chocolate flavor with tropical fruit notes.
Available in 77% dark chocolate, 64% dark chocolate and 42% milk chocolate. Auro only utilizes natural ingredients to produce it.
Auro Chocolate Bar as a Gift and/or Pasalubong
You won’t go wrong in giving your foreign or balikbayan friends/family with a bar of Auro chocolate. From the packaging alone, it exudes elegance with its intricate geometric tribal art pattern inspired design. The chocolate itself has a strong cocoa taste with fruity notes. It just easily melts so make sure to keep it refrigerated.
I gave a bar of Auro chocolate to my Taiwanese friend, Arianne, in our trip to Taiwan and she loved it. So, yes, Auro is definitely a great choice as a “pasalubong” (or travel gift). Or better yet, give it as a gift to your dad this coming Father’s Day.
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