Friday, December 11, 2009

Cacao & Cocoa

We have been studying the Aztecs, Incans, and Mayans the past two weeks along with our study of Renaissance Europe. Fascinating people groups! So advanced in many ways. One wonderful way they were ahead of the white people across the pond is that they had cacao beans. Suh-weet!

For a little historical taste lesson, we tried some roasted chocolate covered cacao pieces (because I couldn't find any whole raw cacao beans locally and I don't plan ahead sometimes). While the chocolate covered cacao was yummy, I had a different lesson in mind: making the drink the Aztecs made.

So, we sucked all the chocolate off so we could start out a little closer to the original gig (Don't worry, each kiddo had their own bowl of slurped and then dried cacao. We didn't 'share'!)
A day later (so the cacao could thoroughly dry or because Mama was busy until then... whatever), everyone decorated their drinking vessels with either Aztec or Incan style artwork. (I didn't insist that they stick to the typical Aztec and Mayan colors. Or artwork. My bad.)

We ground the bits to bits (I'm hilarious, I know). We poured boiling water and rice milk (Ok, ok, the Aztecs and Mayans didn't use rice milk. Just water, usually... man, you all are sticklers!)over the bits and let the mix soak awhile, then we strained out the solids. Each student then chose how to flavor their drink. Their choices:vanilla, honey and/or ground chili. Everyone picked vanilla and in the end chili too!
We "whipped the drink until it was frothy".

We drank. We were not impressed. I think the roasting of the cacao beans before we started or experiment/recipe altered the taste. Thankfully, I had a chunk of Abuelita's Chocoate on hand. So, we supplemented our drinks with some finely ground chocolate chunk.

In the end, we made frothy drinks just like the Aztecs and the Mayans (ok, maybe not just like, but ya' know... pretty close), discussed the difference between cacao, cocoa and coca (an Incan thing, I'll tell you about that later... no worries, we're not going to be doing anything illegal even if it does involve the plant that cocaine is made from).

It was entertaining and memorable!


  1. Looks like so much fun! I am inspired by your creativity!...or maybe it's your love for CHOCOLATE :)

  2. Looking forward to learning the difference between the 3, and enjoyed catching up on your school blog. Fun stuff!

  3. Sounds like fun! I am not good with hands on things, so I am very impressed, too!
    Did you read the book Incans, Aztecs and Mayans? I was a bit horrified at the book and had to edit parts of it when I read it years ago to my boys. And I can't quit bring myself to read it again. My little girls are quite sensitive about things. Very interesting, though.