Last week, my Mexican friend Carmen asked if I wanted to learn how to make chocolate. As you may know, Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate (I knew we came to the right place!). If you'd like to learn more about the history of chocolate, click on the the link below:
The History of Chocolate
The process of making chocolate here in Oaxaca hasn't changed much since the times of the Aztecs. We started by going to the open air market to buy the cacao beans (2 kilos), a comal (a large clay baking stone), cinnamon sticks, and almonds. We came back to the house and built a fire in the backyard.
Once the fire was nice and hot, we rinsed the beans and then spread them on the comal. We took turns stirring the beans until they were nice and toasted. They looked burnt to me, but Carmen assured me they were the perfect color.
Once they cooled a bit, we took the skin/shell off the bean. This was the most time consuming part. Elyse didn't enjoy getting her hands black so she supervised most of the time!
Once we had all the beans cleaned off, we roasted some almonds and packed everything up to take to the grinder. Most towns and cities have places where you can take your corn (for making tortillas), coffee beans, and cacoa to be ground since this is very much a part of everyday life in Mexico. First, the grinder combined the cacao beans, almonds and/or vanilla, and cinnamon sticks. A thick, dark brown liquid came out of this step. Next, he mixed the chocolate with sugar. He then moved to a different machine and ground the liquid and sugar into a thick powder like substance.
We took home two big backs of the chocolate powder (if you have kids and have every played with Moon Sand, this was kind of the consistency of the chocolate).
Once home, we took some molds and pounded the chocolate into them. We had to pound the chocolate until it was packed and had a glossy finish to it.
When we put it out to dry, it looked like chunks of dark chocolate fudge to me (are you hungry yet?).
We let the chocolate dry over night and now we are ready to try some delicious hot chocolate tonight with some friends.
What a fun way to experience Mexican culture!