It’s hard to pass up chocolate. The inviting atmosphere and promise of Peruvian chocolate were too much for my daughter and I to resist. Our friend Carina agreed and we all eagerly signed up for a Chocolate-Making Workshop at Cusco’s Choco Museo.
We excitedly donned our aprons and chef’s hats as we learned about the cacao beans that grow in Peru. “You will roast them, peel them, and grind them into a paste, then use that paste to make a cacao drink. A traditional Mayan chocolate drink.”
Then we were lead into a kitchen workshop where a charismatic young man named Gilmar burst into the room.
“Hello, Oompa loompahs!” he called out. “Are you ready to make chocolate?”
We all cheered yes and spent the next 1-1/2 hours being entertained and educated in the process of turning raw cacao beans into a lumpy paste. Each group took turns singing regional songs from their homeland while they stirred and poured the cacao mixture. The Brits sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Our American-based German friend Carina sang “Happy Birthday” with us. The Dutch teens sang something, as did the Latin American couple. As goofy as it sounds, it was fun and Gilmar kept the lesson lively.
Once we all sampled the not-so-sweet-or-smooth cacao drink, Gilmar began bringing out candy molds and a variety of ingredients we could use to spice up and sweeten the refined chocolate he brought out for us to flavor and decorate however we’d like. There were lots of concoctions that included peanuts, or sprinkles. Marshmallows or candy pieces. Sugars and crushed cookies.
While everyone else created their chocolate masterpieces, I poured spoonsful of dark chocolate into my tiny molds. I mixed in some sea salt and red chili pepper and added a dash of cinnamon to the final product before I proudly attached my name to the label on the mold and put my delicacies into the refrigerator.
Half an hour later, I pulled my mess from the collection of sugary chocolates inside and dumped the pieces onto my tray. The finished product was just as beautiful as any chocolates you’d find in a fine department store. (In the discount bin in the basement… maybe…) But no matter how they looked, they were delicious! I’m a pretty good Oompa loompah, if I do say so myself.
What would you have put into your chocolate creation?