AMERICAS CARIBBEAN TRAVEL

Making our own chocolate at The Rabot Estate Hotel Chocolat St Lucia

A visit to The Rabot Estate Hotel Chocolat St Lucia

After a busy few days exploring the island, both sailing and zip-lining, we decided to opt for something a little more relaxed (or so we thought) by heading down to the south of the island for a chocolate cookery class at The Rabot Estate at Hotel Chocolat’s incredible Boutique Boucan Hotel. As we approached this stunning destination we realised how luxurious our visit was going to be, from the security staff on the gate, up the drive to the open-dining and bar area. And that was even before we set foot in the pool area downstairs…

The 140-acre Rabot Estate is situated in the South West of Saint Lucia, near Soufriere – the original French capital and divided up into 16 different côtes or areas of terroir, with evocative names steeped in history, such as L’Hermitage, Ti Jardin, Marcial, Mathilde and Rameau. The rich and fertile volcanic soil, high altitude (c.1000ft above sea level) and rainforest water all combine to create a unique environment (terroir) that is perfectly suited to growing Hotel Chocolat’s fine and rare strains of cocoa.

Having turned around the fortunes of the estate, they are now spreading the regeneration through to local cocoa growers. And the next stage of development for The Rabot Estate is to build a chocolate factory and start making chocolate using local ingredients and local labour.

The setting of the Rabot Estate cocoa plantation is jaw-droppingly beautiful with the twin Piton emerge from the Caribbean Sea in front of you, and behind you the rainforest stretches into the distance. It was the perfect location for a stop-off during our tour of Saint Lucia.

A visit to The Rabot Estate Hotel Chocolat St Lucia

Unique to the Rabot Estate and drawing on its expertise as a chocolatier and as a grower, the estate offers an exclusive opportunity to discover cocoa like never before, as well as create your own chocolate. The experience starts with a walk through the estate’s cocoa groves selecting ripe cocoa pods to harvest from the tree, and ends with crafting your own chocolate bar. The tour includes all the fascinating stages in-between – from the cocoa seedling nursery, fermenting room and sun-drying station to grinding, mixing and lots of tasting!

After we had wandered the estate, we headed back to the main cooking area to begin making our chocolate!

Each pod must be removed by hand, either by gentle twisting or deft deployment of a 20ft-long knife – a bamboo pole with a sharp hooked blade at the tip. Then the pods (many of which are the size of a rugby ball and weigh up to 7lbs) must be transported from an inaccessible jungle slope to a road. The beans are then sun-dried, sorted by hand, and roasted in a 45C (113F) oven for 20 minutes, before being shipped back to the UK to be ground into nibs. After that, the conching, or chocolate-making stage, can begin. The nibs are put into a conche (a piece of machinery that ‘agitates’ the ingredients) with cocoa butter and left to revolve for up to 72 hours – the resulting paste is then heated, tempered and poured into moulds.

Obviously we didn’t have to conche the beans for 72 hours and instead did around 30 minutes (so of course the chocolate wasn’t silky smooth) but after the gruelling 30 minutes of grinding the coco nibs together we were both sweating buckets! Once the mixture turned into a paste we added the coco butter which against the heat of the sun and the bowl melted in to the paste, creating a liquid chocolate. One finished we poured in to the chocolate mould and left it to set for half an hour.

The experience was great – and one we will never forget – if you’re in Saint Lucia be sure to stop off here for afternoon to learn all about the chocolate making process and grab a drink in their bar overlooking the incredible Pitons!

A visit to The Rabot Estate Hotel Chocolat St Lucia

Part One: Tree-to-Bean Experience / Available Monday to Friday 

Part Two: Bean-to-Bar Experience / Available Monday to Friday

In-house guests: $61 | External guests: $88 – BOOK www.hotelchocolat.com

 

 

Thank you to St James’s Club Morgan Bay and Travel St Lucia for hosting such a wonderful stay on the island paradise of Saint Lucia!

TO BOOK: St James Club, Morgan Bay – Saint Lucia – www.eliteislandholidays.com – 01245 459 906

  • Angie Silver
    May 30, 2018 at 10:50 am

    We did this!! Such a fun day wasn’t it!!

    • Sophie
      May 30, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      It was such a lovely experience!

  • Jen
    June 5, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I want to make my own chocolate! Looks awesome… and tasty!!

    • Sophie
      June 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      It was good fun but hard work too! You really sweat for your chocolate…..