Friday, February 12, 2016

A Chocolatey Valentine Field Trip

My son's chocolate factory diagram

I nearly forgot that Valentine's Day is peeking around the corner. I started home schooling my kids three weeks ago and the days have all blended into one. Teaching my own children is challenging and refreshing. I get to learn along with them.

I actually got to sit down, well stand because no chairs were left, and do a water color with my kids during their art class. We also toured a chocolate factory yesterday--the perfect field trip for a Valentine weekend. 

My son really enjoyed it, as you can tell by his diagram above. I don't know if my cravings for dark chocolate during my pregnancy with him influenced his rapacious desire for the fruits of the cacao bean, but he Valentine-triple-hearts his chocolate. 

My friend owns the factory and the story about how she ended up with a chocolate factory is a book in the making. In fact, I've already talked to her about turning her story into a picture book, so yesterday's tour was a writing journey me as well. And wow, did I learn some cool things.

Cacao pod. I apologize for the lousy photos!
Did you know the cacao pod, the one with the tasty chocolate beans inside it, has a fruity, white coating over each bean that is scrumptious in its own right?

The beans are covered in a white, fleshy pulp that tastes a bit like a banana and melon mixed.

I didn't know it until we visited the ruins of a volcanically preserved Mayan village and encountered cacao trees. The guide was kind enough to knock a pod down for us, split it open and let us taste the fruity pulp surrounding the beans.

The locals in Central America use the fruity pulp to make their chocolate extra yummy. They ferment the cacao beans inside the fruity pulp before drying it for processing. The sweetness from the fleshy pulp imbues the beans with a richer, sweeter flavor. It must do something extraordinary, because my friend's chocolate is some of the best I've tasted.

I wish I could hand you piece of chocolate through the wire, but I at least hope you can enjoy your own sweet treat this Valentine's Day.

Have a great week and Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. I'm so happy to hear how well the homeschooling is going. And I love the history of chocolate and how it's processed. So wonderful you all get to experience this first hand. Definitely PB-worthy! Is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on your list to read?

    A happy Valentine's to you too.

    1. Thank you! Yes it is. I love Roald Dahl, so this is the perfect opportunity. Have a lovely day.

  2. I remember when a gourmet chocolatier here (Scharffen Berger) was offering tours replete with chocolate samples at the end, and my kids' class went there...Education and merriment all around.
    I hope you share your adventures in home-schooling on your blog. Many good wishes for that, as well as for a Happy Valentine's day tomorrow.

    1. Thank you. I do hope to share more. In fact, I hope to migrate soon to my own website, but I need to get up to speed with that process first. :)

  3. I love dark chocolate. In fact, I don't eat any other kind of chocolate anymore.

    1. I used to hate dark chocolate, until my pregnancy with my son, then I craved it every day. Now I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate always. Funny how that happens. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Ew, I would never have guessed chocolate came out of that pulp stuff, lol! From the picture it looks like chicken, or fish. =) Just glad no matter where it comes from, it tastes yummy! And that sounds like a neat pb idea.