Nothing compares with a visit to the Chocolate Museum in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and the first European city in the Americas. The Choco Museum is just steps from Plaza Colon in the heart of the colonial center of the city. The tour starts in a small garden of cocoa plants and then followed the production process. Learn about the “finicky”cocoa plant. is It needs between 60 and 80 inches of rain a year and the temperature should not go below 60 degrees. The soil should be well-drained and the plant likes to be shaded and protected from the wind by canopy trees.
The best part of our visit is participating is their chocolate workshop. As advertised, participants follow the chocolate making process from “bean to bar.” First the beans are roasted then shells removed. Hot water was poured over the shells and allowed to seep for a few minutes. Add a little sugar to create a delicious cacao tea.
The ground nibs are made three types of hot chocolate. There is the hot chocolate that most people are used to with just milk and sugar whereas the Spanish version included cinnamon, anise, and cloves ground along with the cocoa beans. The Mayan version included ground chili peppers but no sugar. It has a little kick.
The last step is making bonbons. First a dab of chocolate is dropped in the tray to which special ingredients are added such as nuts, M&Ms, and dried fruit. Finally it is covered with more chocolate. Our two-hour workshop was nearly over. But, since our chocolate bonbons needed to harden, the guide suggests that guests walk around the colonial center and return to pick them up their chocolate bonbons. For more information check chocomuseo.com.