Oaxaca is a lively colonial city located in central Mexico that boasts many grand churches, trendy restaurants, hip Mezcal bars; and the best chocolate in Mexico. Rich Mole Negro, Mexican Hot Chocolate and freshly-made chocolate treats are consumed at almost every meal in Oaxaca. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven!
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Oaxaca Mexico; the Birthplace of Chocolate
Not many people are aware that Oaxaca is the birthplace of Chocolate. The Aztecs believed chocolate was the food of the gods. At one point it was such a valuable commodity that it was used as currency. The Aztecs and Mayans were the first consumers of chocolate although not in its current form. A popular drink among the Aztecs was Xocolatl; a bitter chocolate concoction made from ground cacao beans, vanilla, chili peppers and spices. Hernan Cortes, the famous explorer, introduced chocolate to Europe in the 1500’s when he brought it home from Mexico. The Spaniards created their own version of the Aztec’s chocolate beverage by adding sugar and removing the chilies. This creamy hot chocolate beverage became a hit that spread across Spain and then throughout the world.
Traditional Mole and Chocolate in Oaxaca
Chocolate is fused into the culture and cuisine of Oaxaca. Chocolate is not just used in beverages and desserts but to make a variety of dishes as well. Chocolate is used to produce a traditional favorite dish in Oaxaca called Mole Negro. Mole is a sauce typically served over pork, chicken, turkey or enchiladas. Mole Negro is a rich dark sauce made from dark chocolate, garlic, sesames seeds, cloves and many other spices and ingredients.
Chocolate is locally produced in Oaxaca, but the seeds come from the Theobroma Cacao tree that grows in the Tabasco and Chiapas regions of Mexico. The cocoa beans are then locally produced into a variety of chunky bars, slightly different than what Americans may be used to. This pure dark chocolate has a grainier texture and is semi-sweet. Popular bars are made with Canela (cinnamon), Vanilla, Mezcal, con leche (with milk) and sin azucar (without sugar).
Calle Mina or Chocolate Street Oaxaca
The best place in Oaxaca to tour chocolate shops is Calle Mina; also known as Chocolate Street because of the concentration of chocolate shops located on it. As soon as you get within a couple blocks of Mina you will notice the smell of freshly ground chocolate. It is intoxicating! The three main chocolate purveyors all located on the same block are Mayordomo, La Soledad, and Guelaguetza.
Start at the corner of Calle 20 de Noviembre and Mina at Mayordomo- the biggest chocolate producer in Mexico. They have a multitude of shops in Oaxaca including a large one in the main bus station. This large shop located on Calle Mina produces chocolate right in the front of the store. They sell a large variety of rich chocolate products including Mole Negro. People can bring in their own family recipe and wait for the chocolatiers to grind and prepare it for them. This large shop also has a chocolate bar where visitors can indulge in a frothy Mexican Hot Chocolate or other snacks.
The fun part is watching the chocolate makers make the chocolate right in the front of the shop. Visitors can watch the production of freshly made chocolate at all three shops. First they grind the roasted cocoa beans in large grinders then they mix in vanilla and nuts or cinnamon. The result is a pure dark chocolate paste that can be made into bars or mole.
Chocolate Lovers Vacation in Oaxaca
Overdose on chocolate at La Soledad, located at Mina 212. This bustling chocolatier produces chocolate on-site as well. Plan to have breakfast or lunch at the Chocolateria Restaurant de Soledad where they offer a decadent menu featuring many chocolate-based items such as desserts, moles and beverages. Need a quick burst of natural energy? Soledad sells a delicious product called Chocoenergetico; a fresh chocolate treat made with chocolate and honey guaranteed to kick you into high gear! For a special treat stay above La Soledad at the Chocolate Posada Hotel. This cute bed and breakfast has 15 rooms centered on a courtyard. The best part is waking up or going to sleep to the delicious smell of chocolate.
After chocolate street, head over to Oaxaca’s central fresh food market; 20 de Noviembre market. This is a fun place to rest and have an authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate beverage. Mexican hot chocolate can be made with aqua or leche (water or milk) and is served in a small bowl with a side or pan or bread for dipping. Vendors sample and sell a variety of traditional Moles such as Rojo or Negro to try or to prepare at home.
How to Make Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate
To make an authentic cup of Mexican Hot chocolate at home; try this easy to follow recipe: At the market purchase aMexican molinillo; a whisk used to froth hot chocolate. In a medium sauce pan melt 2-4 squares of dark chocolate such a Mayordomo or Abuelita. Slowly mix in 4 cups milk or water. Stir constantly using the molinillo or wire whisk until the mixture is frothy and the chocolate is melted. Add sugar, cinnamon or vanilla to taste; serves four.
For a thicker and creamier hot chocolate try a traditional Champurrado. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, Mix 1/4 cupmasa flour (light corn meal) and 1 cup hot water. Stir with whisk constantly to remove all lumps. Slowly add 4 cups milk and 2 squares of Mexican chocolate (or amount desired). Stir with a wire Wisk until all chocolate is melted and allow it to reach a boil. Reduce heat until it reaches desired consistency. If it is too thick add more water or strain. Serve immediately.
Plus we don’t have to feel guilty about eating chocolate-this decadent treat has proven health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, has anti-aging properties and is a mood enhancer. So go ahead, indulge and celebrate chocolate’s rich history and flavor with a visit to Oaxaca. Visitors will find a charming Mexican colonial-style city rich in culture and tradition. The delicious chocolate treats, desserts, beverages and foods will draw visitors back to Oaxaca time and time again.
It’s not a matter of where, but when. Time is precious and my time spent living and experience the cultures of this world is what I lust for. This is why I created this website, to share true, genuine experiences and not just typical touristy info. Travel, the love of coffee, and food!