Ixcacao Maya Belizean Chocolate
Photo by Sarah Purkrabek
This Chocolate Tour is Required Tasting For Every Chocolate Lover
Though Belizean cacao beans are exported to make chocolate bars all over the world, there are few farms in the country that actually make their own chocolate. Ixcacao is one of those farms. Take a tour with local operator (and friend of the Ixcacao family) Taste Belize and you'll get the presidential treatment (really: Ixcacao once hosted former president Jimmy Carter for a tasting and chocolate making tour). Juan co-owns the company with his wife, who goes by "Chocolate Queen." She earned the name. For five years when the business was just starting out in the tiny town of San Felipe, where it still operates, she ground the cacao beans by hand using a stone tool dating back hundreds of years to her Mayan ancestors. The full Ixcacao tour includes a taste of traditional Mayan chocolate tea, a taste of some of the company's bars, and a chocolate-making lesson. You'll use that same stone tool to crush the beans into a melted paste and blend in sugar, then pour the resulting mixture into a mold and stick it in the fridge to harden. While you wait for your dessert to be ready, you'll eat a homemade lunch courtesy of the Chocolate Queen herself. It'll be, without a doubt, one of the best meals of your trip. Then you'll break your chocolate out of the mold and find out what truly bean-to-bar chocolate tastes like.
By Sarah Purkrabek, AFAR Contributor
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San Felipe, Belize