Do you like chocolate? We take you today on a journey to Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, to visit the ChocoMuseo! Let’s learn together about cacao and its transformation into chocolate.
The museum is located at the heart of Cusco, near the Plaza de Armas where there is a beautiful statue of an Inca on top of a fountain, and near the Hatun Rumiyoc street where you can find the famous Twelve Angled Stone… or Incan emperors of the 21st century!
The Visit of the ChocoMuseo
The whole chocolate journey starts with the cacao pods. In Peru, cacao grows mainly in an area known as the “eyebrow of the jungle”, located between the mountains of the Andes and the low lands of the Amazon. From the 10 cacao varieties that exist around the world, 6 can be found on the Peruvian territory, in the regions of San Martin, Tumbes, Piura, and Cusco for instance.
When ripe, the cacao pods are harvested – cut from the tree, and kept on the floor. Then, each pod is cut into two with a machete. The sweet white pulp and the cacao beans inside of the pod are separated for the fermentation process. The shell of the cacao pod is full of fibers but is usually used as a fertilizer.
The very gooey white pulp and the cacao beans are placed in wooden boxes and covered with banana leaves and jute bags in order to conserve the rising temperature (up to 50C/122F). The fermentation process lasts on average 6 days. During the fermentation, the color of the beans turns from purple to brown, and the flavor of the cacao is going to develop in the seed.
Then starts the drying process. The objective is to low down the moisture content of the fermented beans, which is around 60%, to less than 8%, so that the best conditions of preservation are ensured. The fermentation continues at least during the first day of drying. That is why the condition of drying depends of the condition of the fermentation. This step lasts generally 5 days and is followed by a quality control process of the cocoa beans, using a guillotine.
Then the fun part of the tour at the ChocoMuseum starts! In the kitchen, you receive dried beans. You roast them for a few minutes and then you can remove the shell.
The roasting process has, indeed, 4 main objectives: lower the humidity of the cacao bean, develop the precursors of the aroma of the cocoa, ease the peeling of the bean, and neutralize the natural acidity of the cocoa. It’s a key step to develop the aroma of the cocoa. There is a machine, the winnower, which is used to separate the cocoa shells from the cocoa nibs. But when you visit the museum, you do it manually – and it’s more fun!
Then you grind the beans. You get a semi-liquid paste called cocoa liquor. This paste is very bitter and used in Peru to prepare hot chocolates.
The professionals of the ChocoMuseum added ingredients to prepare unctuous chocolates, including extra butter to the cocoa liquor, sugar, milk, and spices. Once the kids had a bowl of refined melted chocolate, they only needed their creativity (and some sweets) to have fun and get their own original funky chocolates!
If you want the chocolate to look shiny, you need to temper it. While you wait for your chocolates to be ready, you can visit the rest of the museum and understand better the history of the chocolate: how it started, with the Mayans and the Azteks, and also, later, the expansion of the pleasure of chocolate, in Europe, with the conquistadors and later, at the industrial age, and then, in the rest of the world.
In this special place, we especially loved admiring the Mayan God of Cacao, and the Machu Picchu, both made out of chocolate! Yum!!!
Have you ever included chocolate in your kid’s lunchbox?
It’s ok to include a treat in your kid’s lunchbox as long as it comes with a balanced meal and that you don’t make it an every day rule 🙂 We covered this topic in our article about the 5 golden rules of the lunchbox if you want to read more about what the Dietician says.
Where you can get yummy chocolate
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is an American confectioner, well known in San Francisco. The dark chocolates and the milk chocolates are yummy, but you have to try the milk chocolates filled with caramel at least once!
The Dark Chocolate Deliciousness box on Mouth.com is a must try too!
Does your kid’s school allow chocolate in the lunchbox? Did you already add chocolate in your kid’s lunchbox or snack box? Show us what you do by uploading a photo on Teuko.com!
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