While it is possible to visit the free museum and purchase artisan dark, milk and white chocolates, both the museum and the store’s offerings come to life in the lively two hour chocolate making workshop led by Pablo. Pablo not only knows and loves his subject, cacao and chocolate, but he is an exquisite performer and a personable instructor managing to pack both history and plenty of hands-on experience in this five star two hour workshop.
Pablo explained that cacao trees were a customary part of Mayan household gardens. Chocolate was consumed by all members of Maya society, while the Aztecs in the north reserved it’s use solely for the elite. Spanish friars from Mesoamerica introduced chocolate to the Spanish court. At first, the bitter chocolate was rejected as unpleasant, but the friars added sugar and chocolate became a European and then a global sensation. The 1800s brought the advent of the first European chocolate bars and their mass production.
After our tour of the museum with Pablo, it was our turn to make chocolate like the Maya. We donned the provided aprons and began toasting the beans on a comal, careful not to burn them. Then we husked the beans and used considerable force to grind them until we had a shiny paste which Pablo combined with water. This mixture was then poured several times between the container and the cup to aerate the chocolate. Pablo had his pouring down to a steady stream of about three feet between jug and cup while the rest of us achieved only a modest distance, intent on not missing the receiving container.
Rejuvenated by drinking the hot frothy product of our labors, we were then introduced to European chocolate making, which requires a machine to continuously beat the cacao over a period of several days. This gives eating chocolate its melt-in-your-mouth silky texture, a feat impossible to achieve by hand.
Next we each received a bowl with our choice of liquid dark, milk or white chocolate as well as a selection of molds. An array of coconut, cardamom, ginger, orange peel and almonds was placed on the table for flavorings. It is in filling the molds with dripping chocolate that the aprons come in handy.
Pablo labeled each of our filled molds with our names and told us the chocolate needs four hours to set. We would need to return to collect them.
My excitement at seeing my chocolate again was not misplaced. I reached for a thick rectangle of dark chocolate with it’s slice of plump orange peel. The first bite was an ascendence into the realm of all-encompassing bliss; the rich dark balanced by the right touch of sweetness, the harmonious accent of the orange peel a brilliant addition. The generous supply from the workshop lasted several days, each piece a new delight. It was simply the best chocolate I have ever eaten. Ultimately of course, the sweet memory of making my own chocolate outlasted the chocolate itself.
The Choco -Museo offers three chocolate making workshops daily. Book online or drop by the Choco-Museo to sign up.