How chocolate is made in Guatemala

Originally published at:


I’m eating dark chocolate right now.


Just visited a chocolate museum in the Yucatán this week. One of my big takeaways:

The Mayans raised (and still raise) friendly, stingerless bees that produce delicious honey. So my question is “if this was an option the whole time then how did Americans get stuck with those European asshole bees??”


So… that last chocolate was tempered before packaging.
Does it need to be tempered every time that it is taken to liquid state?
If so… how come?

But…Mayans are Americans. And I’m sure Europeans tried to foist honeybees on them when they brought them here from Europe (and those bees escaped apiculture). But stingless bees live only in tropical regions, apparently:

Honeybees are not out of the woods, but they have commercial interests to look after them. What’s also very important are these thousands of types of native bees we have that most folks know nothing about. For instance, this past weekend I watched the simple process that makes bumble bees a better pollinator for some flowers than honeybees: they buzz their way to the flower, get inside, and then buzz again to shake the pollen onto themselves and pollinate the flower.

Back to chocolate: the stuff that gives chocolate its pep was given the name theobromine, which of course means “food of the gods.” Couldn’t agree more.

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Oh not this silly argument again.

Yes, we all know that there are two whole continents with “America” in their name. The reason no other nationality is referred to as “Americans” is because the United States of America is the only country with “America” in its name.

Even in Mexico the Mayans are referred to as a Mesoamerican culture, not as “Americans.”

Yes, if you melt chocolate, you need to retemper it before casting it. Cocoa butter contains six types of crystals. Types 1 through 4 are crumbly, dull, and melt at very low temperatures. Type 6 takes a long time to form. Type 5 is shiny, hard, and creates the nice snap you think of when breaking a chocolate bar.

When you fully melt chocolate, you’re melting all the crystals. If you allow it to uncontrollably set you’ll get type 1-4 crystals and dull, crumbly chocolate. When you temper it, you bring it to a temperature such that all the crystals melt, then carefully cool it so type 4 and 5 crystals form, then ever so slightly reheat it so the type 4 crystals melt and you have the good type 5. When you cast this in a mold or use it to enrobe confections, these abundant type 5 crystals give you the shiny, snappy appearance you want.

If you’ve ever seen streaky or spotted chocolate, that’s bloom and it happens when the chocolate went out of temper.

Because I rarely get to talk about this: Two common ways of tempering are seeding and tabling. When tabling, like in the video, you bring it all up to temp (55 C for dark, 48 or so for milk), dump about 2/3 of it on your marble, and work it until it’s around 29 C for dark, 27 C for milk. Then add that back to your pre-warmed chocolate to bring it up a few degrees and melt those pesky type 4 crystals. When seeding, you melt 2/3 of your total mass, then dump the remaining tempered chocolate in the melt. Stir this up to melt the seed and you should be at your low crystallization temp. Heat it up 2 degrees C and you’re right at temper. Seeding only works if you already have tempered chocolate, and it’s less messy if you need to temper a small amount.

source: retired pastry chef


This is a lovely description.

I liked the video, but now I am more interested in knowing what the future of the “low-tech” method is, do they make money? can they sustain their business? How much money does the harvestor of cacao get?
So many questions.

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You can’t tell me nobody is selling chocolate “Hand-made by the indigenous peoples of wherever” at $100 an ounce? Has market capitalism at long last failed?

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