Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making Chocolate at the source, the Choco Museo of Granada Nicaragua

On our second day in the city the boys took part in one of the most awesome workshops we have ever taken. They not only got to learn about history and culture, they got to eat and drink it too :)
We all learned so much and had so much fun I had to blog about it in the hopes that anyone visiting Granada would make sure to put the Choco Museo on their list of must dos. 

First the Facts
The workshop started at the source, in front of a dark leafy tree laden with cacao pods. 
Here is what we learned:
*Cacao high season  is the end of the year
* the ratio is 60/40 percent butter to cacao in the seed 
* 97% of all caca production is done in West Africa
* before you roast you want 6% humidity in beans and you can tell by shaking them and by their color

Now for the action

We began this step around a low wide pot that was being heated by a coal fire. The pot is called a Comal, it is the traditional style used by the Mayan. 
We were told that the Mayans didn't simply stir their beans but they danced and sang as well and made it a fun event.  Each person got to stir the beans while jogging around the pot as the rest of us clapped and sang "Bate Bate chocolate". 
When the heavenly aroma of warm dark chocolate wafts into your nose, the beans are dark, and you hear faint popping/ hissing sounds they are done. 

After roasting the beans we burned our fingertips a little bit as we separate the seeds and the shells. 

Then the work out. We Mashed and ground the beans and made a type of cacao paste. 

Our hard work was used to make three different chocolate drinks.  

The first drink we made was the original Mayan chocolate drink. 
Cacao butter
Hot water
Honey ( lots of it)
Black pepper
This drink was traditionally made by pouring  the liquid back and forth between two pots. 

The second drink  was the Aztec chocolate drink. The facilitator jokingly said the Aztec stole it from Mayans. When they made it they added chile, vanilla, cardamon and Blood when offering it to the gods. 

Lastly we had the European chocolate drink. The conquistadors added sugar, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and anise. Needles to say the boys enjoyed this style the most. 

During each mixing for the various drinks we sang a different song which we learned came from the Spaniards.  "Cho-co-la-te mole-niƱo estirar, estirar porque chocolate llavestar"

When chocolate is made in factories the next step after making the paste is to separate liquid from powder. The thick butter is used for beauty products and making white chocolate, while the powder is for satisfying our sweet tooth in the form of chocolate. 

The chocolate we used in the museum for our bars was a blend of 4 lbs paste and 4 lbs sugar mixed and processed together for 15 hrs. The result is 50% dark chocolate. 

Interesting Tidbits
In switzerland they do three different processing and it takes 6 days as a result they mix the best, all the ingredients become one and the taste is divine.  In Belgium, chocolate  making takes 4 days but they use more cacao. In the US it takes 2 days an they use more sugar and milk. Where we were in Granada, Nicaragua  it takes about 1 day but taste very grainy and you can still taste the individual ingredients. Generally speaking cacao is grown in one place and processed in another.  

After all the chocolate drinks. We were presented with candy molds and all the boys made m&m and sprinkles chocolate bars which we enjoyed three hours later. 

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