Copal Tree Lodge, Punta Gorda Belize. Wednesday January 8, 2020

Good morning! Today you and I will learn all about making chocolate!

Let’s have some watermelon juice first!

Pancakes with chocolate, banana and toasted coconut! That is butter and not scrambled eggs on top of the pancakes!

This couple was going to go on a zip line. She was having an alcoholic drink while we waited for the Land Rover to arrive! Like me, she does not like heights. She was very much afraid to go on the zip line, but she told her partner that she would do it!

I was dropped off at the chocolate building where I met my guide for the cocoa growing steps. I needed no alcohol to learn about making chocolate!

First we see the flowers and the beginning of the cocoa pod on the cocoa tree.

The pod continues to grow.

Eventually the pod reaches a stage where it is ready to be picked.

The full grown pod is quite large.

What’s the inside of a cocoa pod like? The cocoa pod is split open to show us.

The cocoa beans have a very slimy coating. The beans and the slimy coating will ferment during the cocoa making process and then the beans are put on racks to dry in a shed.

I put one of the seeds in my mouth, the bean was quite sweet. I am not dead yet, so you can tell that it is safe to eat! It was gooey though!

These big leaves cover the cocoa pods in the drying sheds.

I also learned about grafting. Grafting is done because sometimes you have a very flavorful bean, but the tree itself is subject to disease. By grafting you put the desirable plant on a root stock that is stronger and more resistant to disease and insects.

A branch from a tree that you want to use for the growth of beans is taken from the mother tree. The leaves are then snipped off.

A small piece is then cut off where the bud was and then inserted into tree that is very hearty. This heartier tree is the root stock.

The bud is then wrapped to prevent harm to the plant.

An alternate method is to use a v like graft.

This is a more successful method.

That is all the lessons about cocoa tree growing.

Now for a pretty picture. I am sure that many weddings are held here!

I think, but I am not sure but these might be peppercorns!

This is part of a turmeric root. You can see it growing in the soil.

I was told that you should take this seed also when you take your turmeric for better healing. Of course I have no clue what plant it was from!

All I remember was that it was red!

Here are the cocoa beans that have gone though the fermenting and drying process. Maynard will be showing us the rest of the chocolate making process. Maynard will put cocoa beans into a large roaster where the beans will be roasted for a short while.

This is Maynard. See Maynard roast beans.

Here are some of the beans before they are placed in the grinder.

The roasted beans ready to go into the grinder.

The roasted cocoa beans are placed into the grinder and the heavier cocoa falls into the bin. I will help by evenly scraping the cocoa as it comes out. But you won’t see that part!

A vacuum sucks out the light ground shells from the heavier cocoa grounds through the green tubes.

The finished cocoa nibs, fresh out of the grinder.

We have moved in to an air conditioned room for this part of the process. This makes me very happy as the heat and humidity is very bothersome to me.

Maynard with the maniacal mad doctor expression is telling me that now I will make chocolate! There are already some of the ground cocoa nibs in the machine. The other ingredients are sugar and cocoa butter.

On the white board is the mathematics of chocolate making. Just like wine making and whisky, a percentage is lost as the “Angel’s share”.

All the ground cocoa is in the grinder.

Here I am scraping the chocolate off the grinding wheels. At this point I still hadn’t splattered chocolate all over me! The best is yet to come!

I am seriously concentrating!

Hmm. No hairnet. That wouldn’t pass muster with the USDA!

Next ingredient is white sugar.

The white sugar is added to the mixture slowly in batches.

Here are samples of chocolate that was made by other guests. Can you believe that I only ate two?

The final step was the addition of cocoa butter.

I never really understood where the cocoa butter came from. The cocoa beans had been roasted and then ground. Then I put them into the mixer to be ground further into a liquid and then the sugar was added.So where does cocoa butter come from? I forgot to ask.

Everything was all mixed together and my chocolate was ready to be tempered.

My chocolate was added to chocolate that had already been warmed.

Maynard poured the chocolate onto the counter.

The chocolate was spread over the table into a thick sheet.

Maynard scraped the chocolate over the granite table.

The chocolate was smooshed together.

The chocolate gradually became thicker as it was exposed to the cooler air and the cold granite countertop.

The chocolate had to be added back into the warming pan, stirred around again to reach the right temperature and consistency.

The chocolate has reached the appropriate consistency to be placed in the molds.

Maynard pours the chocolate into the tray and then spreads it out.

Maynard is thumping the chocolate trays to get the air out.

I will be next!

Here are my molds that are ready for the chocolate.

A short video of my thumping the chocolate to get out any air bubbles.

Here I am doing my last thump!

The air conditioned room where we made the chocolates.

Goodbye Assistant helper!

A phone call to arrange my pickup to bring me back to the main lodge.

This is the rum distillery across from the cocoa factory.

That is another adventure that you can do. I think part of the rum distillery is learning about making rum drinks also. Perhaps next time. Yesterday Steve and I saw a number of guests sitting at the bar around 5 in the afternoon with many glasses holding booze. I think they had gone on the tour. Either that or they were having a wonderful time on vacation!

This garden was across from the rum distillery and the cocoa factory. Much of the food comes from the many acres that the lodge owns.

More pretty flowers and plants.

While I was waiting for the Land Rover to bring me back to the lodge the gentleman who did the first part of the tour showed me Copal berries and seeds.

The Land Rover picked me and up and I was soon back at the lodge.

Last night we had a big group arrive.I overheard that they are doing a photo shoot for Orvis. The pictures will appear in the summer 2020 catalogs. I am going to have to find out more information. I hope I will get more information over the next few days, but you never know…

I came back from my chocolate adventure at 10:30 and decided that I would have a drink. After all if the young couple could have a drink to get courage for the zip line at 9 am I could have a drink after I was hot and sweaty.

I have decided that I will drink early and often today.

I told Tim that I would like to have the drink that he made for the zip liners. He graciously accepted my request. I shall document the drink for you in pictures and some words.

Here is Tim with one of the bottles of booze in this drink.

One of the ingredients is an egg white.

Tim must have watched Bar Rescue. They are always telling staff that they need to smile and make eye contact.

So all I know was that the drink had rum and an egg white in it, with a flower garnish. I think it had more stuff in it, but “Who knows? Tim knows!”

I call this drink the “Give me courage to ride the zip line!” I think it will be on the drink list next time we come! Everyone liked that name. Or at least they pretended to!

This is my new friend Palma. She was born on Palm Sunday so her Mom named her Palma. Her brother couldn’t pronounce Palma so he called her Bunny. Being of a certain age, she feels Bunny is not quite appropriate so I told her I would call her Palma. She likes Palma, but everyone calls her Bunny.

Bunny was drinking a delicious looking drink. I told Ducky the bartender that I wanted him to make me one after lunch. Bunny was having problems with her phone and was worrying about all the roaming charges she was going to have. I put her phone on airplane mode and showed Bunny how to get on the lodge’s wifi network.

Bunny was on her second of these drinks. I think it was called the drunken money, or it could have been called a dirty monkey. I can’t remember which. You all know that I have a terrible memory for names, so the drink could even have been called something completely different! Bunny said the drink was good, but not quite as good as when she originally had it someplace else. I told Bunny that if she had the drink three times it would have to be called a horny monkey. Bunny at 76, thought that was very amusing. As did her 80 year old husband!

The weather was very overcast and showery. Not much of a view of the ocean today. Nor were the hummingbirds out this afternoon.

I don’t believe this one bit. The straw did not seem biodegradable at all.

My glass of iced tea. Would you believe me if I told you there was no alcohol in this drink?

Here is my cheeseburger and fries that I ordered for lunch.

I told you already about the couple from Oklahoma that I met before lunch. She was drinking something that looked like a chocolate milkshake. I told Ducky that I would like one after lunch. As I skipped dessert I figured it was time for my drink.

There is lots of booze and lots of bananas in this drink. There is also a lot of chocolate sauce. A scoop of ice is added to the blender before it is blenderized.

Inside the cabinet is the blender, so it’s not too noisy.

Here is Ducky presenting me my drink.

Doesn’t it look good?

The Orvis group came back after lunch and saw my drink. They all wanted one so Ducky made more.

This is where I will be sitting the rest of the afternoon.

I had to get more ice added to my drink as I was starting to feel too loopy. There is something not quite right about being drunk in the afternoon.

The weather didn’t clear all afternoon. I don’t think that Steve will catch any fish this afternoon.

The howlers were making some noises in the late afternoon so I tried to take a video. They were unhappy with the gardener.

Well? Will Steve catch some permit like he did last year? These were some pictures that they had in the lodge.

I was wrong! Steve did catch a fish, and here it is!

This is a picture of a bonefish. It was very dark compared to the fish that he catches at Delphi. Steve was very wet and cold all day as it was a cold and rainy day!

Here is a picture of a tarpon from an ad in one of Steve’s fishing magazines.

Steve’s fish was nowhere near this big, but Steve said that the fish do jump like crazy!

I introduced Bunny and Si to Steve and suggested that we all have dinner together. They even agreed! What nice people. They didn’t even have a chance to google me and find out if I was an axe murderer! Perhaps they will look me up before they issue invitations to invite me to see them in Oklahoma! I told Bunny about my blog and she read it and thought it was wonderful and that I am so funny! I think I will have to continue to send her texts of my web page as her email kept blocking my requests for her to join the blog. Perhaps her email knows something the rest of us don’t know?

So take that all you people who don’t click like on my blog! (Ha Ha, meant to be funny!)

Here is Steve with tonight’s napkin art. I think I should have taken more pictures of the napkins !Next time!

The amuse bouche from the chef. We had it the other night. I think the rotation is based on every third night!

My cocktail of the evening was a Jaguar Pizz. Not to be confused with Jaguar Piss! It was made from rum, cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters.

Doesn’t that drink look good? My mouth is watering just looking at it!

For my starter I had the tomato bisque.

I wasn’t sure if that was a face or not!

Steve had the salad.

I had the hangar steak for my main. It came with mash yampi, tomatoes, chimichurri and long beans. A yampi is a tropical yam.

Steve had the pork tenderloin medallions, charred salsa, corn tortillas, and garden greens.

Steve had the cake. It might have been spice cake.

I had the pecan pie with coconut ice cream. I just found out the it was not pineapple coconut pie that I had the other day. It was pineapple pie with coconut ice cream!

Si had the cream puff for dessert. I wasn’t comfortable enough to start taking many pictures of Bunny and Si’s food! Next vacation!

Here we all are after dinner. I am thinking about calling Si Jack now as Palma is known as Bunny. You know Bunny Rabbit and Jack Rabbit? That way no one will know about who my new friends really are. I mean, doesn’t everyone already know who Bunny and Si from Oklahoma are? They need some anonymity!

Linda is sitting in Steve’s lap and Jack has his arms around Bunny. Bunny looked at the picture and thought that I had a strange expression on my face. You can tell that she just met me today as I always have a strange expression on my face!

After our picture I picked up my chocolate. It was kept in a refrigerator at the bar.

We all laughed that the chocolate was from a secret stash, and just put into ziploc bags!

What time to you start drinking during the day?

Are you or have you ever been an Orvis model?

Do you have a strange expression on your face normally?

Author: lindalant

Lover of luxury travel. My husband and I are retired and are traveling meeting people and having excellent adventures. LindasExcellentAdventures.com is my blog site.

One thought on “Copal Tree Lodge, Punta Gorda Belize. Wednesday January 8, 2020”

  1. Great explanation of the chocolate making process with fabulous photos. Drinks look great as well !

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