I didn’t mean to leave you. Ok, I take that back. I did mean to leave but not until I published a few more posts. But (there is always a ‘but’ isn’t there?) somehow a trip to the Bahamas consumed my every thought from January 2nd until we boarded the plane to escape the dreary cold of the Midwest.
I baked and delivered, and baked some more. I caught up on laundry, packed my bag, stocked the house with food, laid out clothes for the kids, wrote a detailed note, and left my little people and husband behind. Before long I was boarding a cruise ship with five of my closest lady-friends for a short, but restful, weekend.
The first day we arrived in Nassau, Bahamas and promptly left the ship for (what turned out to be) a long walk to Graycliff Chocolatier. The only chocolate factory in the Bahamas, it is located on the Graycliff estate which also holds a five star restaurant, mansion hotel, pool cottage and cigar factory. Said to be built in 1740, the various buildings sprawl across a small cliff and little courtyards and gorgeous tropical gardens greet you at every turn. Being the curious bunch that we are, the short walk to the chocolatier was lengthened by stops and detours along the way to view various terraces, dining rooms, and outdoor gathering spaces.
The tiny chocolate shop smelled amazing, and looked even better. The cases were lined with perfectly formed candies containing wondrous flavors such as brandy, rum, caramel, pistachio and even bacon.
We were enthusiastically greeted by two ladies. Both local Bahamians, they were obviously (and rightfully) very proud of the shop and took us through a back door to the inner workings of the company. Our guide handed around disposable hospital-gown-looking garments for the tour and proceeded to give us a thorough introduction while we adjusted our new attire.
The chocolatier is located in a converted house. We wound our way through halls, passing storage rooms, dish tanks and an office, and finally arrived in the heart of the operation. Probably once a large great room, the walls were white, ceilings high, and machinery lined the walls and made an isle down the middle. Two employees stood working at various contraptions which spewed white chocolate in beautiful ribbons.
Our time in the main production room was brief and our next stop was to an adjacent room. One half contained three pieces of machinery for processing cocoa from the bean, and the other half was lined with tables with enough place settings for our group.
This is when the real fun began! We were given a large cup of tempered chocolate and a mold embossed with the Graycliff logo. Following our guide’s directions, we polished the mold with cotton, then poured the chocolate. A plate was provided with generous helpings of granola, coconut, chocolate chips, sliced almonds and we added our favorite flavors to our own personal bar. A few thunks of the mold on the table, and they were set aside to cool.
The rest of the chocolate was ours to be as creative as we wanted to be. I opted to make chocolate drops with various toppings.
We were given a Graycliff cigar box to package our creations and our molds containing the graycliff bar were ready to be released.
We had a fabulous time learning about the bean to bar process, getting messy with our own creations, and an even better time consuming them once back at home in the cold Midwest. With every bite I can feel the warmth of the ocean breeze, can hear the laughter of my girlfriends, and let my shoulders relax a little.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Graycliff Chocolateir, nor have I been asked, paid or encouraged to write about it. It is simply a great little excursion I took while relaxing on a short vacation.