There were a few things I was interested in checking out in Antigua and the one that sounded the most interesting was a ‘chocolate workshop’. There are only a few places in the world where Cacoa can grow and one of those places happens to be Guatemala.
Here in Antigua is a awesome place called the Choco Museo where you can learn about the process of making chocolate; all the way from bean to bar. I actually don’t really like sweet stuff but this 2+ hour class on making chocolate from scratch was a lot of fun. Our guide/chef was hilarious yet very informative. I highly recommend checking this place out if you come to Antigua. Tons of photos from the ‘workshop’:
Our guide showing us a real Cacao seed pod along with the transformation from Pod to Chocolate chips.
Once the beans are roasted and the husks removed they are ground into a paste. The Mayans used a mortal and pestle to grind the cacao beans until they were a fine paste, the finer the paste the smoother the chocolate.
We used the old school Mortal/Pestle method and also the slightly more modern hand crank grinder:
From here, we have the basis for making chocolate. We made a few different drinks which was what the Mayans did with cacao; they drank, not ate it.
First up for us was Cacao tea. Simply made by steeping the seed husks in hot water and adding a little bit of sugar. It was okay.. a bit of a bland taste.
The second drink we had was the tradional Mayan recipe: honey, chili powder, freshly ground cacao paste, hot water, and blood! (we used paprika instead). Only the Mayan elite drank cacao, it was considered holy. This stuff isn’t your normal chocolate milk. The chili powder gives it one helluva kick that hits you right in the throat.
The second drink we made was good old fashioned French Hot Chocolate. Hot condensed milk, Sugar, Cacao paste, and a bit of Cinnamon. This is not exactly like the normal chocolate milk your used to but it was much better than the traditional Mayan recipe.
After making and sampling the different kind of drinks, it was time to make a good old fashioned bar of chocolate. Ground chocolate is first heated (tempered) and molded, then flavored to your preference.
For this task we were given a bowl of melted chocolate; either milk chocolate (50% cacao) or dark chocolate (70%). We also had the choice of several different molds and a variety of spices and toppings. I went with the dark chocolate as my base.
I made 2x chocolate bars and a tray of small chocolate cups. The chocolate bars were intended as a treat for my family/friends and I mailed them back to the USA (you don’t want to know how much DHL shipping cost!).
My winning recipe was dark chocolate cups with 2-3x coffee beans and a touch of ground mint leaves. I don’t like sweet stuff but these were pretty good. 😎