Trip to Peru Day 1
Location: The Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo Choco Museo
Cost: About $25 per person- depending on current exchange rate
Time: Plan 3 Hours for this class.
Tips: Some classes are in English, some in Spanish. Be sure to check which one you're signing up for in advance!
Whenever we travel we try to plan one activity that we'd consider a date. Clearly the whole trip is like a date, but having one more romantic, special activity makes it feel all the more special.
We knew that Lima is one of the food capitals of the world. We thought some kind of cooking class would be really amazing since we have been smitten with Peruvian food long before our trip. Imagine the delight to learn that Peru is the largest exporter of organic chocolate- and that you can take your own chocolate making classes learning to make it from scratch! It took no time at all to decide we wanted to do this and to figure out where to go.
We found out the Choco Museu is actually in Lima, Cusco, and Ollantaytambo- All places we'd be! When we looked at schedules we decided to fit it in Ollantaytambo after visiting the ruins. It really was perfect timing to do it this way! Ruins all afternoon, a little city exploring, and then a chocolate making class from 4:00-7:00, with a little dinner after.
I can't recommend this enough! We were downright giddy about this class.
We started by learning all about the cacao plant. There are three breeds, a premium creamy blend that grows in perfect climates like Peru, and a courser more mild flavor that primarily grows in Africa, and can withstand harsher conditions. Then there's a hybrid that grows various places. Guess what we get in the United States- the crappy breed primarily from Africa and then we add wax to it. Why United States, WHY?
We also learned the Incans were the first to use it, and that the beans were so precious they were used as currency. Five beans could buy you a livestock animal of your choice. They really felt it was a gift from the Gods, which we irreverently commemorated by this mural.
We started out by choosing a handful of beans, and learning how to roast them.
After they are roasted you need to shell them. But guess what, not even the shells are wasted! They make a tea that tastes like a chocolate bar with just water and shells. It was really good!
We wanted to prove we did our share of shelling- it was no easy task!
The beans are then put in a mortar and pestle and ground into cocoa powder.
They then taught us how to make two kinds of hot chocolate- the Incan kind...
After the spicy Incan hot chocolate we were introduced to the Spanish style hot chocolate. If the Spaniards gave the Incans one thing while they were conquering their country, it was the introduction to adding sugar and cream to beverages. Maybe not quite an even trade, but after drinking this amazing stuff the jury was still out for me.
From there we learned about chocolates and chocolate bars, and what percent of cocoa butter, sugar, cream, and chocolate go together. It made me feel so proud I'm a dark fan through and through- I am getting the most bang for my buck!
From there the proper amount of ingredients go through these machines for hours. We used the last class's stuff so we would have time to pour our own chocolates.
They provided all kinds of options to make custom chocolates.
And then we carefully dipped and stirred in the ingredients. For the record, the salt from their local salt pools combined with the fresh dark chocolate is the stuff of the Gods.
We left two very happy people with treats we enjoyed throughout our trip.