The name of the Theobroma plant genus comes from the Greek for “food of the gods.” The billions of people who love Theobroma cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, would be inclined to agree. Now cacao’s cousin Theobroma grandiflorum (“large flower”) is blossoming into the spotlight.
Brazilians call this fruit cupuaçu (pronounced coo-poo-asoo) and either eat it raw or incorporate it into sweets. With its tangy flavor and cocoa-meets-pineapple scent, it’s little wonder that Brazilians have found many uses for the plant. Recently, South American creameries have turned cupuaçu into an ice cream flavor, while brewers have started making sour and saison-style beers with it. Although it’s appearing in novel forms, this is no newfangled fruit. Tribes in the Amazon rainforest have relied on cupuaçu for centuries.
Western tastemakers may be looking to cupuaçu as their next big trend—it’s already served alongside the açai berry (an Amazonian “superfood,” now popular in both North and South America). Some companies have even taken the upscale confection route with bean-to-bar cupuaçu products. Reviewers describe cupuaçu candy bars as rich and nutty, with a ganache-like texture and an acidity evocative of “yellow exotic fruits.” The bar is reminiscent of high-quality milk chocolate that lacks the characteristic bite of darker varieties.
Beyond these embellished interpretations, just how does the raw cupuaçu taste? Pretty delicious. Its flesh is soft and sour, with a juice that carries hints of pear and banana.
Need to Know
Some companies, such as Wildness (based in New Zealand) sell cupuaçu-based bars online. In Brazil, cupuaçu-based desserts are common, and the raw fruit can be found in and around the Amazon rainforest.