Although I’d done a cacao tour back in Nicaragua where I learned about growing and processing cacao, I decided to also do the chocolate making workshop at Choco Museo while I was in Antigua. And although the first part covered the same information as what I’d had before (much better to do this part in Nicaragua), this workshop introduced me to some of the history of chocolate and allowed me to make my own. Sergio was my guide and (once again) I was the only person!
During the spiel about the history of cacao, and cacao growing and processing, Sergio was showing me how roasted cacao was traditionally ground into a paste using a metate. The idea is to get the paste smooth and silky.
From there we headed off to the kitchen to roast our own beans, remove the cascara (skin/casing) when roasted, and ground the beans to make our own paste. He was quite a fun guy and suggested a competition between us to see who could get to the best paste. Second shoulder workout of the day! Of course he was better at it than me but he claimed I won and my prize was a piece of chocolate from the shop 🙂
We gave the shoulders a rest after this though and made a lot more paste using a hand-cranked mill that always reminds me of watching mum and Nanny making minced meat.
From the casings of the cacao beans, we then brewed a chocolate tea. Quite yummy actually, though you do have to add a bit of sugar. Ended up buying a bag of casings to make this myself as a change from normal black tea and to supplement my last few teabags of Rooibos.
Then we prepared a Mayan style hot chocolate. Cacao, water, honey and chili – and it had to be poured from clay jug to jug to aerate it before it was ready to drink. Sergio’s efforts look more impressive than mine, but he had a horrible mess on the table to clean up as well 🙂
Next up was preparing a Spanish style hot chocolate with cacao, sugar, milk, cinnamon and clove. This one we stirred to mix it through rather than the messy jug to jug pouring technique – clearly the Spanish weren’t as confident/practiced in this as the Maya.
Finally, we came to the chocolate creation stage – which turned out to be the least interesting part of the whole thing. You got 250g of either dark chocolate or milk chocolate, a mould and a variety of nuts, cacao nibs, coconut and spices to add to your chocolates. You create your masterpieces (mine were quite messy on the back as you can see), they put it in the fridge for you, and you come back in 2 hours to collect.
Was very happy with my little bag of goodies, but the next day I went to Quetzaltenango in a minivan and put a bag of stuff on the floor for the ride. Turns out, I put that bag of stuff directly over the engine which was very hot – and all my beautiful individual chocolates melted into one massive pile of chocolate 🙁 Still ate it, but it wasn’t quite the same.
Recommendation: Even if you’ve done a cacao tour before, this was an interesting few hours, and you get chocolates at the end of it. The Choco Museo is just a nice place in general as well and of course you can buy without doing the workshop.
Time: About 2 hours plus setting time for the chocolate