If you’re a fan of chocolate, Peru is the perfect place to visit. Chocolate has been part of life in Peru for centuries, so it’s no surprise that chocolate in Peru is known as some of the best in the world.
Chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa all come from cacao, which grows as seeds on tropical evergreen cacao trees. The trees are relatively environmentally friendly to grow, as they are shade crops and can help protect soils. Cacao trees first originated in the Amazon, and chocolate became an important part of cultures like the Aztec and the Maya. The Spanish brought chocolate to Europe from South America and added in sugar to the mix for a sweeter taste.
The Origins Of Chocolate
To make chocolate, the bitter cacao seeds are fermented, dried, and cleaned. Then, the cacao seeds are roasted, shells are removed, and they are ground into what’s called a cocoa mass. This cocoa mass is heated until it becomes a liquid chocolately heaven (known as chocolate liquor), and then is often combined with sugars and oils to ultimately become a delicious chocolate bar.
Ten Peruvian regions harvest cacao: Cajamarca, Junín, Huánuco, Ayacucho, Cusco, Ucayali, San Martín, Piura, Tumbes, and Amazonas. Peru’s wide range of diverse soils and climates makes for a variety of different flavor possibilities.
Cacao is grown in many places, but only a small percentage of cacao harvested in the world is considered to be of high quality – and that’s the caliber you can find in Peru. Peru is known for growing three main varieties of cacao: Amazon foreign, Creole, and Trinitary, all of which lead to excellent chocolate. The Creole variety is especially growing in popularity because of its high fat content, which equates to high-quality chocolate.
Peruvian chocolate is receiving more and more recognition on a national scale. In fact, in 2018 Peruvian chocolate company Amazona Chocolate received first place in the “Tree To Bar” category of the revered Academy Of Chocolate Awards in London. (The award honored Amazona’s delicious Valle del Chanka Dark 72% bar.)
If you’re a chocaholic (and really, who isn’t?), here’s where to go to experience the best chocolate in Peru.
This delightful museum of chocolate with locations in Lima and Cusco is an adventure for all five senses. Master chocolatiers at ChocoMuseo will take you on a journey from the ancient beginnings of chocolate in Peru to today’s modern chocolate-making processes.
You can make your very own chocolate as part of the popular Bean-to-Bar workshop at the chocolate museum. In these hands-on chocolate making classes, you’ll take cocoa beans all the way through the creation process into chocolate. You can choose personalized add-ins for your individual chocolate, and you can take your delicious creations home with you. (If you’re feeling ambitious, there are even more advanced courses in truffle-making and chocolate sculptures.) Of course, you can also enjoy a chocolate tasting at the museum – no chocaholic experience would be complete without one.
El Cacaotal, Lima
This lovely chocolate tasting room and boutique was opened by Amanda Jo Wildey, an American expat, in 2016. Wildey became on expert on growing and making chocolate in Peru while studying for her master’s in anthropology in Lima. Her shop sells artisanal chocolate bars made from individual farmers and chocolate creators, and curates a selection of the tastiest treats around.
Roselen Chocolatier, Lima
Roselen is known as one of the best chocolate shops in the world. When you step into the store for yourself, you’ll understand why. This is not your average chocolate. At Roselen, you’ll find hand-painted, small-batch organic chocolates with flavors inspired by the rainforest. (Yes, you read that right: hand-painted.)
The shop was launched in 2003 by Elena Basagoitia Villavicencio, and has since become a family operation. Her son, Giorgio Demarini Basagoitia, uses his graphic design skills to hand paint each chocolate, along with bringing the shop’s beautiful chocolate packaging to life.
This delicious chocolatier is another chocolate lover’s dream come true. Xocolatl is based in Lima but their chocolates are available by delivery only. When you order from Xocolatl’s online shop, you’ll find artisan chocolates that feature all kinds of unique Peruvian ingredients, like pisco and aguaymanto. As if the delectable taste weren’t enough on its own, each chocolate is also beautifully presented, with unique shapes and decorations that add to your experience.
Chaqchao Chocolates, Arequipa
This delightful Peruvian chocolate company is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Arequipa. At Chaqchao, you can enjoy a chocolate tasting of artisanal flavors, sip on Peruvian coffee and craft beer, and learn more about cocoa than you ever thought possible. If you’re game to try your hand at whipping up some sweets yourself, you can dive into Chaqchao’s chocolate-making workshop.
If you’ve ever wanted to taste the literal best chocolate in the world, a visit to Cacaosuyo is the way to make it happen. Any shop that sources organic Peruvian chocolate certainly has bragging rights, but Cacaosuyo can actually prove their chocolates are the very best. This delectable chocolate company has received multiple International Chocolate Awards, and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
MIL, Sacred Valley
MIL offers a whole lot more than its world-class chocolate: MIL is an internationally renowned restaurant with an innovative menu that’s about as locally sourced as it gets. Each aspect of MIL’s eight-course menu represents one of the eight ecosystems found at the restaurant’s high Andean altitude. In addition to your meal, you’ll get to explore the restaurant’s food labs – which is where the dreamy chocolate experience comes in. MIL has its very own chocolate wing, where you’ll get to learn about the restaurant’s process in producing chocolate sourced from nearby Quillabamba. Now that’s seriously delicious!
To create your own chocaholic adventures in Peru, contact us for further details!