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Published: February 19th 2012
Grinding the beans to make the paste
Up at 7.30 am and down for breakfast at 8.00 am. Took 5 and a half kilos of washing in to the launderette two doors up from the hotel, got our blog up to date for the last two days and walked over to the Chocolate Museum for our chocolate making course.
An assistant was assigned to us and she first explained the chocolate tree and how the beans are harvested. Then onto the good stuff! We were shown where to wash our hands and given an apron each. We roasted some chocolate beans in a clay pot with an opening at the side over a calor gas stove for around 7 minutes and waited for the rich smell of chocolate to pervade the air and for the beans to start cracking (like popcorn). We then husked them and ground them to a paste with a pestle and mortar. Whilst doing this, the assistant made us a small bowl of chocolate 'tea' by adding the husks to a pot of hot water with a little sugar. After drinking this, we ground some more beans in a hand-operated grinder (the sort that both our parents used to mince meat!) With the
Filling the moulds
Not sure whether too much chilli in some of these!
ground paste, the assistant made a further chocolate drink by mixing the paste with hot water, chili and some other red spice to give it colour. This was supposedly the original Incan recipe for hot chocolate which only the nobles were permitted to drink. If anyone other than a noble drank it, they were put to death. The original drink had blood from a Mayan tongue added. Luckily, this was omitted!! We also tried the more conventional chocolate drink drunk by the Spanish with hot milk, cloves and cinammon added to the paste. This was stirred with a wooden implement with grooves at the top to froth the milk (similar to a more conventional aerolatte). The paste is usually ground and mixed in an electric mixer for 24 hours to temper it and ensure that there are no bits in the paste and the texture is consistent. We were then given chocolate moulds and an array of spices (including chili, ginger and cinammon), ground coca leaves, coconut, nuts and raisins to add to our chocolate base. Once completed, our chocolate moulds were placed in the fridge with our names on for an hour to set and to collect later.
Following the chocolate museum, we went to the other local market which we had not yet visited in the other direction. This was more of a local market but vaguely interesting. Walked back in the direction we had come and went for lunch of warm chicken and mushroom salad at the cafe/restaurant we liked from the day before. One of our group members arrived at the cafe and joined us for lunch.
By then it was absolutely pouring with rain and we yet again, donned our waterproofs and sloshed our way back to the main square where we changed some money and after collecting our chocolates and nice clean clothes, went back to the hotel for a read and a rest.
One of the group members is leaving tomorrow so all going for a joint drink and dinner (although I suspect we shall be in bed long before many of the others who will probably stay drinking late into the night). It's called Paddy's Place and is jointly owned by the restaurant we went to at lunch time so hopefully, with a name like that it should be good (so Ed says)!
Went to Paddy's for supper. Sat with Dave and Frenchie as the younger members of our group were having long pre-drinks at the hotel. By the time they joined us, we were ready for our coffee and sat with them until 10.00 pm and then left for coffee on the way back to the hotel and bed.
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