Four Brits and a Dane Walk Into a Chocolate Museum…

And that’s the group I found myself with yesterday afternoon, killing time after Spanish class. The ChocoMuseo in Antigua is an interesting place, and entertaining if nothing else. I spent a few hours learning the history of chocolate, from the ancient Mayan uses of the cacao bean and its’ husk for drinks and for trade, to the later Spanish acquisition and recipe change in 1521, to the English transformation into candy bars.

Various stages of the cacao bean, from it’s origin in the pod (top) to its’ dried and roasted form (bottom), the nib removed from the husk (left) and ground to powder, separated into butter and chocolate.

 

The Mayans used cacao beans for currency. This chart shows the value of various items in cacao beans. For example, a small rabbit was worth 30 beans.

 

Cacao beans being roasted in a comal. Comals are large flat pans that are used throughout Latin America. I saw many large comals being used in Mexico to cook tortillas.

 

Of course it wasn’t just a history lesson…we actually got to make our own cacao tea, hot chocolate, and chocolate candies.

After roasting, the beans are peeled. The nibs are ground into paste to make chocolate; the husks are steeped into a tea that was enjoyed by Mayan royalty. It’s actually quite good.

 

Using a pestle and mortar to grind the beans into a chocolate paste.

 

Finished product

The ChocoMuseo is kind of like a Build-A-Bear place for adults, although kids are welcome to participate as well. It was a blast, and Edwin, our guide/instructor kept it entertaining.

Multicultural group photo (after cleaning up the mess): L-R: Trine, Me, Ellen, James, Edwin, “Mamacita” and “Papachulo”.

5 thoughts on “Four Brits and a Dane Walk Into a Chocolate Museum…

    • It was actually very good! We were given a choice of milk chocolate (40% cacao) or dark chocolate (70% cacao). I’m a dark chocolate fan. They also gave us flavors to add if we wanted….spices such as cardamom, bits of orange, ground mint, etc. The recipe we made was basically today’s chocolate, but due to time we skipped the tempering step that makes the chocolate more heat-resistant. The Mayan chocolate was much more bitter tasting, not nearly as sweet as what we’re used to. More like baking chocolate I suppose.

  1. The leaves are beginning to turn here. You’re heading into Spring in S. Hemisphere. Turn left when you see the Southern Cross.
    Ride on!

  2. You passed within a day’s ride of Papantla and the ruins of El Tajin – Ground Zero for vanilla extract.
    Imagine living in Europe in the early 16th century and being introduced to both vanilla and chocolate at
    the same time! While Moctezuma was addicted to a bitter chocolate drink the
    Totonac people of Papantla payed their yearly taxes to Tenochtitlan in vanilla. Along with the Tlaxcalan
    people they aligned with Cortez to bring Aztec dominance to an end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*
*
Website

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.