From Bean to Bar at the Lima Chocolate Museum

by Sarah Novak on January 13, 2013

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One of the activities Jenna was most excited to try during her stay in Lima was a Chocolate-making Workshop at the Choco Museum in Lima.  This was my first time going as well, so we made for quite an excited pair!

We opted to do the Bean to Bar Workshop, where you complete the steps that go into making a Chocolate Bar from raw cacao.  In case you were wondering why a chocolate museum in Peru, you should know that Peru is really beginning to make an international mark for it’s chocolate.  The fertile ground is great for growing a high-quality product and cacao production provides an alternative living for poor farmers previously growing coca (the plant used to make cocaine).  Fear not, I am taking full advantage of all the yummy Peruvian chocolate options available here! 

Now, on to the workshop!

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We started by picking a handful of raw cacao and heating it in a unique shaped pot that trapped the heat and helped it roast.  We stirred it continuously for 10 minutes until we heard the beans pop.

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After that we began the tedious process of winnowing (separating the bean from the shell).

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At that point we were finally ready to begin grinding the bean down into a course powder using a pestle and mortar.  That was serious work – there may have even been some sweat dotting our faces…

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Here’s a look at the contrast from initial bean to ground powder.  Isn’t that amazing?

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Next we made three cacao-based drinks.  We took the discarded shells from the beans and steeped it into a yummy tea.  Then we made two more hot drinks with the ground cacao.  One was an ancient Mayan drink made with water and the other was traditional Hot Chocolate.  Here I am frothing my hot chocolate the old-fashioned way!

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Since we had used up all our ground product, we were then provided with a bowl of melted chocolate that had been prepared and tempered (this would have taken to long to do during the workshop apparently).  We then selected our molds and went about the difficult task of selecting our mix-ins.

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We each made about 10-12 chocolates and were able to take them home an hour later after they set.  We had a blast and learned a lot too.  In fact, Jenna liked it so much that she convinced Nick to go back with her the next day and do a truffle-making class.  If you’re in Lima, I’d definitely recommend this as a fun activity for all ages. 

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