The Art of Chocolate

Mexican chocolate combines the fragrance of cinnamon with nuts and cacao beans into a unique and memorable taste. When visiting mercados in Mexico, look for the bins of beans – some raw or roasted. In Oaxaca, some are fermented for use in the beverage Tejate.

Roasted cacao beans

Curious about the process of how the beans are processed into a delicious product, with the help of our friend Araceli we learned how to measure proportions of cacao beans, sugar, nuts, and cinnamon (canela) to make a batch to our liking. We decided to keep the proportion of sugar to the beans low since we prefer bitter-sweet chocolate.

Portions of toasted cacao beans, sugar, pecans, and cinnamon.

In the small village where we are located, there are four moliendas; shops that are devoted to grinding corn, cacao, and chiles. We walked down the street towards the molienda and could hear the grinding mills working as we approached. When we entered all four milling machines were working on separate grinds.

Worker operating grinder

The staff carefully cleaned out the machine for the cacao, which meant also taking it apart and cleaning the two grinding stones inside the machine. When it was reassembled, the cacao beans and canela were ground first, then everything was put back into the machine and the sugar added.

Cacao bean’s first pass through the grinder

The chocolate comes out of the machine warm. After we walked back home we hand-formed small disks that cooled on parchment paper. As novices to this process we were excited about our first batch, and we now are fantasizing about adding ground chile and other enhancements to the chocolate.

First attempt at Mexican Chocolate

What do we do with the chocolate? It’s a great bittersweet chocolate to snack on. It can also be the base for sumptuous chocolate desserts. This morning we made hot chocolate and dipped fresh conchas into the steaming rich drink.

Conchas with hot chocolate

For authentic recipes from native Oaxaquenos, check out the book, Oaxaca al gusto, an infinite gastronomy by Diana Kennedy, ISBN 978-0-292-72268

All photos in this article copyright © 2022 Linda Marston-Reid.

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