For those in the know, South America is THE place in the world for the best cocoa production. In addition to that, Peru is best known for their 1.4% contribution to the cocoa industry, as being purely organic.
With this in mind, on a 2 day stop over in Lima, Peru’s capital city, we thought we would put our chocolate making skills to the test. Yes, we were aware that the best chocolate production is the likes of Switzerland and Berlín, but we wanted to live like a local and experience the chocolate making industry right from the beginning.
Let me start by saying, that Lima itself isn’t all that great – unless we’ve totally missed something?! We did the bus tour and other than seeing a few buildings and lots of traffic, we were a bit confused as to what to do there, we did lose a night in the casino though and tripled our money so can’t complain!
Anyway, back to business. For Christmas, I bought my chocoholic best friend/soul sister a chocolate making experience in Lima (mainly so I could join in too as we were travelling together and she couldn’t take anyone else – good friend over here!). We arrived in Lima at 7am on the Saturday morning and the experience was booked for 5pm.
After 20hours of travel, and pretty much no sleep, I was beginning to regret the idea of making chocolate and have to participate for a few hours when I was well and truly in bitch mode!
Anyway, after a nap, a lunch of cerviché (raw fish) and a pisco sour, we were ready!
We took an Uber to the ChocoMuseo, a whole £2.50, and got dropped off at what looked like a little cafe. Not a chocolate museum like we were expecting.
However, not being one to judge on first impressions (haha that would be a first for me), we wondered in and had a mooch about before we were sussed.
“Loara Frariii?” (I love how my name is said in a Spanish accent – true story!)
We were supposed to be doing the workshop with another family, however, ironically one of the kids had eaten too much chocolate and felt sick- so it was just the 2 of us on our private chocolate making session.
We were presented with a cocoa pod with a section cut out – inside was what looked like an octopus covered in slime. No appetising. And very hard to imagine as chocolate! After a sniff and an awkward introduction, we were taken on the history of cocoa. This was actually interesting. We were shown how the beans from inside the cocoa pods are taken out and left to basically shrivel up, after that, heat is applied to ‘roast them.
After our little history lesson, we were then presented with a basket of roasted pods and were instructed to choose 20 each. I spent this time eyeing up my friends and trying to pick better than hers so my chocolate tasted better, but much to my disappointment, they were all mixed up and put in to a clay dish on the stove. We were told we would be making 3 drinks from these cocoa pods. Interesting.
After about 5mins of continuous mixing on the high heat, the beans started popping like popcorn. Apparently this is what we want!
We went on to peel the pods, shells in one bowl and cocoa beans in another. The shells were then put on the hob to make cocoa tea – this was literally chocolate flavoured hot water and was quite nice actually. Apparently the Mayans drank this at ceremonies and for good health.
Next up was a Mayan hot chocolate – paste from the chocolate pods that we mushed up, hot water, chilli powder and honey. I can personally say, I won’t be trying this again…. gross.
Finally, we made an Aztec hot chocolate from after the Spanish brought milk to Peru. For this we mixed the remaining cocoa paste, cinnamon sticks, a vanilla pod, brown sugar and milk. I was supposed to sacrifice my blood (no joke), but we drew the line at this point. I already have a blood sister, I don’t need another. This drink (minus the blood) was actually rather tasty and we ended up having 2 (tiny) mugs!
We then got to the exciting bit – making our own chocolate. By this point, we were wondering if we would have to go through the whole chocolate paste thing again, but they gave us a bowl of pre melted chocolate that they had made earlier – errr thought this was bean to bar? Not pre made to mould?
Anyway, we cracked on and picked our moulds and started picking our chocolate fillings and creating our concoctions. I opted for coca powder in a few, and then cereal and Oreos in the rest. Delicious!
Overall, this experience was okay. I think the important bit was missed out but we still had fun and got to eat a lot of chocolate. So really, what’s not to like!
It’s a 3.5* review from me!