Biting into a square of handmade chocolate could almost be a religious experience. The nuances of flavor, the texture…no wonder it has been called food of the gods! Knowing what I do now, each time I bite into a piece, I think of how complex the process of its creation was. belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-9I am utterly grateful to the ancestor who once upon a time, accidentally or on purpose, decided that this delicacy should exist.belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-14
So, how does chocolate actually get made? How is it that these bars, drops, squares, bonbons and truffles get to our greedy little paws? Luckily for us, our neighbors down the street run the Belize Chocolate Company, and they offer a fun 30-minute chocolate-making class. Sign us up!belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-10
Chris Beaumont, one of the owners, walks guests through the process, sharing some of the history and anecdotes associated with the discovery and process of chocolate.belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-13 “Every bean every bar born in Belize” is their motto, and their process begins with beans from small farmers in the Toledo district. Did you know that there are different kinds/species of cacao trees and as such, flavors can vary widely?belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-11
The Cacao pods (fruit) are first picked, then cracked open to remove the seeds. A thick (delicious) pulp surrounds approximately 50-60 cacao beans. They are fermented then sun-dried then roasted, ready for the next process which involves cracking the bean shells.belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-12
To our surprise, we learn that the enterprising farmers also make a delicious tea from the cracklings! Truly no waste there! After a taste of the dried beans, we take turns at a metate. belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-16What is a metate you may ask? It’s an old-fashioned grinder, with base made of super heavy stone, with a smaller oblong handle (mano) that is used to mash and grind down the cracked beans (nibs) until they form a thick paste. belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-7The process to get the nibs to turn into a liquor would take about three days using a machine. Our feeble attempts at the metate suddenly seemed daunting. Thankful for the Chocolate factory’s machinery, we tasted the readily available liquor that Chris passed around.belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-8
With an idea of what we were meant to create via metate, we again took turns as Chris showed us how the ground nibs were mixed with both sugar and milk…tasting at each step and slowly finding out how the ratio of cocoa to milk/sugar makes a difference. belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-4The more sugar and milk, obviously the sweeter and creamier the bar would be. I found myself gravitating towards the less sweet stuff…5-year-old me would have keeled over in shock…so, shhhhh, don’t tell her!belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-3
Our palates were further pleased when Chris passed around tasting squares of the Chocolate Boutique’s confections – from dark to milk and even white, there’s a square for everyone!belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-2
Chocoholics are invited to visit the boutique on Barrier Reef Drive, and indulge their taste buds. Bite into their delicious brownies and cookies; sip hot chocolate or tea and even pick up some extra products made with the versatile cacao. belize-chocolate-making-class-kakaw-1You can also try your hand at making some chocolate with Chris by taking their class, available weekdays for $15BZ. Classes last anywhere from half an hour to 40 minutes, and they are informative, fun, and most importantly, TASTY! Email them at info@belizechocolatecompany or step inside the shop and ask the lovely attendants to sign you up!

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About the Author: Mary Gonzalez

Mary Gonzalez writes under the pseudonym 'Tia Chocolate'. Tia Chocolate enjoys writing short stories that focus on her life growing up in the small Maya village of San Antonio, Cayo District, Belize.
Tia loves (and we mean LOVE) eating and writing about her food experiences, often times trying out new recipes to try and recreate the foods of her memories. She also loves to travel, indulging in the culture wherever she is privy to visit.
She is slave to a giant cat named Kitty Boo Boo, and her cooking exploits are enjoyed by her significant other, Pookie.

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