For a chocolate lover, there’s no better place to visit than Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. During your stay at the adults-only, all inclusive Royal Hideaway Playacar, you’ll have the chance to learn all about chocolate history, culture, craft — and, of course, where to taste authentic Mexican chocolate. You may be familiar with the famous Abuelita Chocolate mix from supermarkets, but you can go much deeper here. “For a chocolate lover, all roads lead to the Yucatán Peninsula,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
Early Mexican Chocolate History
The roots of Mexican chocolate stretch deep into the past. Scholars believe that indigenous tribes were cultivating cacao beans almost 4,000 years ago, putting them among the first humans to transform the bitter beans into delicious food and drink. It wasn’t just about making a tasty treat, however. For the Mayans, chocolate was often used in religious ceremonies, with cacao-derived drinks being offered to the gods.
The Aztecs shared a love of chocolate with the Mayans – at times, the cacao bean was so valuable that it was used as currency! Before Europeans arrived in Mexico, chocolate was most often enjoyed as a drink; the cacao bean was fermented, toasted and ground into a powder, which provided a powerful base for the concoction. The Aztecs would then often add spices and chiles to add flavor. Suffice to say, this was a different chocolate experience than North Americans are used to in the 21st century, though many traditional Mexican chocolate elements remain in recipes to this day. The Spanish had the bright idea of adding cane sugar to the mix, and soon Mexican chocolate had spread to all corners of the globe.
Mexican Chocolate Experiences & Attractions in the Yucatán
Discover the rich history and flavors of Mexican chocolate traditions at Cozumel’s Mayan Cacao Company. Located just steps from the popular Playa Mia beach, this destination is a full-fledged chocolate experience that no traveler with a sweet tooth will want to miss. You’ll see how authentic Mayan chocolate is made, try an array of tasty treats and learn about how recipes are passed down through the generations.
Move over, Willie Wonka. There are real chocolate factories in Playa del Carmen. The Ah Cacao Chocolate Factory produces some of the very best Mexican chocolate you’ll find – and you can sample it at one of three locations throughout the area, including one café on Playa’s famous 5th Avenue. You’ll enjoy Mexican coffee, chocolate and vanilla direct from the plantation, in addition to other treats like brownies. For the adventurous, try Chocolate Maya, a dairy-free mix of cacao and exotic spices.
The Best Mexican Chocolate To Bring Home With You
- Ki’Xocolatl 72% Dark: This Mexican chocolate maker grows its own beans in a Yucatán Peninsula rainforest – and the 72% Dark bar is a great intro to the Ki’Xocolatl experience.
- The Mayan Cacao Company’s Dark Chocolate Lime and Coconut: The Caribbean notes of this Mexican chocolate bar are truly tantalizing.
- Ah Cacao Chocolate Maya Bar: This deliciously dark chocolate is laced with spicy and sweet spices for a distinctively different flavor. Tip: You can eat it directly or dissolve it in hot water for some Mexican hot chocolate.
No matter where your Mexican chocolate adventures take you, one thing’s for sure – you’ll come home with a deeper appreciation of this culinary tradition.