TUCSON, ARIZONA - Juliana Desmond has a passion for chocolate, the product that is made from the fermented cacao bean. The bean comes from pod-like fruits from trees in places such as Mexico’s Chiapas, Tabasco, Guerrero and Oaxaca regions.

 

Cacao pods

The beans are often coarsely ground to make into a paste, or more thoroughly processed for truffles or for molding into bars. Desmond has traveled extensively to explore the culture of the cocoa bean.

Cacao beans

 

“My inspiration to work with chocolate actualized during one of my visits to Mexico. I got the idea to shape and form chocolate that looks like art.” 

Desmond, a ceramics artist by trade, eventually shifted her attention to sculpting chocolate. 

“I realized a fun way to dream in chocolate! Then I got the idea why not make molds that are food safe and I can pour chocolate in them.” 

After some research and experimentation, Desmond found an inexpensive way for creating chocolate forms. 

“I learned how to make chocolate, how to temper it and how to work with it using the molds. It’s kind of an alchemy because the way that the molecules crystallize together it’s a very precise method. You have to get the temperature just right because if you don’t the chocolate can turn out chalky.” 

Desmond’s chocolates are made from a mixture of cacao powder, coconut oil, honey and vanilla poured in silicone molds to form a work of art. In 2018, Desmond returned to Mexico on an artist grant from the state of Arizona. This time, her purpose was to empower and encourage chocolate producers and artists. 

Juliana Desmond teaching women in Mexico how to sculpt chocolate

“I provided them with equipment for tempering chocolate and taught them how to make their chocolate molds and bars with their textile designs.

Mexican woman pouring melted chocolate in molds

I also designed packaging for them and got their chocolate bars into a couple local shops for them to wholesale to.” 

Packaging design of chocolate

Juliana Desmond, sharing her innovative and inexpensive ways for making chocolate and economic opportunity.