Belize Chocolate Company
I can’t think of a better way to begin celebrating Valentine’s Day than to attend class at the Belize Chocolate School, in San Pedro, overlooking the beautiful Caribbean blue sea. Our teacher (one of the owners of the Belize Chocolate Company) showed us how the chocolate begins as Cacoa beans inside a pod from the Theobrama Cacoa tree which grows in southern Belize.
The beans are fermented in boxes, covered with banana leaves and then sun dried. At this stage the beans taste NOTHING like chocolate. Then the beans are roasted and it is here that the magic starts to happen and the flavors of the chocolate start to develop.
After the beans are roasted they are cracked and removed from the shell. Nothing is wasted. The shells are used to make chocolate tea and are also good to use a mulch. We tasted the chocolate tea and it was refreshing – added a little simple syrup to give it a little sweetness.
The cacoa nibs are ground to produce chocolate liquor. Part of the liquor is taken and put in a press to extract the cocoa butter. Belizean cane sugar is added to the liquor and cocoa butter. At this stage the name changes from cacoa to cocoa. Two granite wheels grind the liquor for up to 72 hours. TA DA! We have chocolate. The chocolate is tempered and molded into the beautiful chocolates we see in the display cases.
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