Making Chocolate at ChocoMuseo in Granada
When the Mayans discovered chocolate 2000 years ago, little did they know that it would later become a most coveted superfood worldwide.
In Mayan society, all classes, rich and poor alike, were entitled to this nutrient rich food.
The Mayans were the first to harvest the beans from the cacao tree, ferment, dry, roast, and then ground the seeds into a paste to make a bitter frothy drink. Not only did they use it as a drink for ceremonies, and special occasions; they also discovered the medicinal benefits of the bean, and prized this fatty seed so much that they used it as currency.
During the conquest of Mexico in 1521, chocolate was discovered by the Spaniards, and they quickly realized how valuable this bean was. It was brought to Europe, and it swiftly became much more exclusive to the wealthy upper class. Because this brown gold was an expensive import, only those with money could afford to drink it.
The Spaniards managed to keep their import a secret for close to 100 years before the rest of Europe stumbled upon it.
Chocolate is now a most loved treat around the world, and thankfully, not just for the rich.
The process of making food is not widely made public, so often times we don’t think about the hard work that goes into it, and chocolate making is no exception. Farmers work in the severe heat harvesting the ripe yellow pods from the tree and extracting the wet bean. The bean is then fermented in banana or plantain leaves for 5 days.
Once the fermentation is complete, the beans are then dried for about 5 to 10 days.
Cody and I were grateful to have the chance to learn more about this versatile bean by participating in a chocolate making workshop at ChocoMuseo in Granada, Nicaragua.
Our class commenced at step 4-the roasting process, where we all gathered around a small clay pan sitting over hot coals. We each took turns stirring the beans, and dancing around the fire (chocolate and dancing? Count me in!)
After the dance-athon, we peeled the outer layer off the cacao beans and began to make a paste with them in our individual mortar and pestle’s.
In between the dancing, mixing, and peeling, 2 different hot drinks were made; a Mayan chocolate chilli drink sweetened with honey, and a Spanish hot chocolate made with milk. We obviously opted out of both, and I was offered an iced cacao liqueur instead (BONUS).
Once the beans were mashed into a paste, we went with a more modern way of processing the chocolate, so a conching machine was used to evenly distribute the cacao butter with the chocolate, and sugar. We ended up with a small bowl of creamy dark chocolate to work with, and were given 2 choices from 7 different ingredients to personalize our bars.
Cody went with cashews and vanilla, and I chose cashews and sea salt.
Our mixture was poured into the moulds and our patience was tested. An hour later, we were presented with creamy and luscious dark chocolate bars.
The fruit of our labour.
Our workshop lasted 2 hours, and it was very entertaining. Kenyn, our chocolate master was extremely lively and energetic.
If you love chocolate and fun, this is the class for you!
ChocoMuseo, Granada offers 4 classes per day, and it is located in the beautiful Mansion De Chocolate. A stunning historic colonial building turned hotel, and spa.
*Our workshop was courtesy of ChocoMuseo, Granada but these opinions are our own*
ChocoMuseo, Granada, Nicaragua
Address: Calle Atravesada, Granada
Website: ChocoMuseo Granada
Tel: 2552 4678