You can thank me later. I did you all a massive service. I’m like that, you see. I persuaded my husband and kids to walk around the centre of Merida looking for local chocolates just so we could review it all for you in order to figure out which is the best chocolate in Merida. Yes, we visited chocolate shops and tourist shops alike just to find the best of Merida for you.

See, I’m a giver…except we ate the chocolate and no, I’m not giving you any!

Why Did I Want To Find The Best Chocolate In Merida?

Well there are a number of reasons.

  1. Obviously it’s fun to pretend you’re eating chocolate for Very. Important. Work. Reasons.
  2. I thought it might be a good after school activity for my kids.
  3. Mexico is famous for chocolate.

Mexico And Chocolate

Did you know that chocolate is actually a Mexican invention? Seriously. I mean, not in the form of a delicious bar of Dairy Milk or anything, but chocolate really was discovered / invented in Mexico. The word chocolate has two possible origins (as far as my vast and deep knowledge of Mesoamerican languages tells me): either from the Nahuatl word chocolātl or the Mayan word xocolatl.

There is some debate as to who, in Mexico, first discovered that chocolate was worthy of advertising with a big, sexy, cartoon rabbit

best chocolate in merida

(does that image mean anything to non-Brits, or even to anyone but me? It’s the Cadbury caramel bunny, people). Maybe it was the Olmecs, around 1500 BCE who are known to have mixed it with water, spices and herbs. It is thought they were the very first to cultivate the cacao plant. Glyphs in Mayan areas such as Veracruz (modern day Yucatan Peninsula is home to the Mayans) suggest chocolate consumption was in full flow by around 1750 BCE.

Early consumption of chocolate was as a bitter and fermented beverage – boozy chocolate beer anyone? The cacao pods were fermented, roasted and then ground in to a bitter paste which could be combined with other ingredients to give interesting flavours. So yeah, Lindt, you weren’t the first to make awesome flavoured chocolates!

I guess people are aware that there is a serious threat right now (no, not Trump): we are eating so much chocolate that we could well end up with a global shortage. This stuff was never meant to be gobbled up at every opportunity or pasted on to naked bodies only to be licked off again….

Actually, I can just imagine it having been used for sexy time in Mesoamerica…

No seriously, it was used in religious rituals, wedding and funeral rites and dedications to specific gods such as Quetzalcoatl and Chak Ek Chuah. In fact, the Godiva website informs me that women were not allowed to drink chocolate as it was an aphrodisiac. Feminist Mesoamericans where were you? I demand the right for ancient Mesoamerican women to have been allowed to be allowed to drink whatever the fuck they wanted.

But wait, how did it get to modern day us? Well, usually I don’t spend my time thanking stinky old imperialists like conquistador Hernan Cortes, but since he was the one who brought chocolate to Europe, I will utter a quiet thank you.

Merida and Chocolate

As I noted above, some of the very earliest users of cacao were the Mayans. A great place to get a better understanding of this is the chocolate museum opposite the ruin of Uxmal, just outside Merida. For more information, check out my article about the place.

What Did I Find On My Chocolate Hunt?

Well, I knew my starting point needed to be Ki’Xocolatl, the increasingly famous chocolate shop on the corner of Parque Santa Lucia (hidden behind the stage, in case you’re wondering). They also have two other shops in town but this is the easiest for visitors to access. Not only do they make their chocolate from scratch, they also have a delectable cafe on site where you can get some of the best chocolate based products in town.

I was spoiled for choice here, given that it’s an entire shop dedicated to top quality chocolate. I opted for three bars, all fairly plain: dark chocolate, milk with salt and peanuts and a cheaper (mixed) milk chocolate. They were clear that the cheaper bar wasn’t as good quality.

Ki’Xocolatl

Next, I headed to Mina Kim, a small shop selling local sweets, on calle 60, just off the Plaza Grande walking towards Parque Santa Lucia. I was greeted by an incredibly friendly woman selling a truly beautiful array of local delicacies.

Mina Kim

She didn’t have much in the way of actual chocolate, which surprised me, but she had plenty of other options. I bought a large, totally sugar free, chocolate button (I guess this is the most authentic chocolate since there was no sugar in Mexico when chocolate was first used) and a delicious mixed nut and caramel florentine type thing. My greedy husband added a marzipan apple sweet and an enormous marshmallow to our stash.

After wandering in to a number of other tourist shops and boutiques (because there are some very swish boutique type places popping up in the centre of Merida these days) I realised I was getting nowhere. We then headed down to Parque Santa Ana where I knew I would find some chocolate options.

One of my favourite tourist shops is Casa de las artisanias on calle 47. The staff are always super friendly and they have some really fun stuff at very reasonable prices. Here I found two chocolate options: both Mexican made. The first, is a ridiculously shaped Mayan calendar made of cookies and cream chocolate from Mexican chocolate company Clatier. It turns out that there are normal bars too, and normal flavours but this shop didn’t stock them. I’ll go back and try those another day. I also bought a small pack of Yum Kin chocolate drops, that were made in Campeche.

After exploring a few other shops, I found a further tourist shop, opposite Casa de las artisanias, that sold me a box of Chukwa filled chocolates.

In the Casa de las Artisanias del estado de Yucatan on calle 60, right on the Parque Santa Ana, I discovered a variety of Clatier chocolate but didn’t think to buy more as I had already bought my random cookies and cream chocolate calendar. That was a mistake. I’ll definitely head back to get more from them as the man working there was incredibly friendly and not only was the shop filled with interesting trinkets but the gallery was pretty interesting too.

I finished with the small chocolate museum on Paseo de Montejo where, if you’re interested you can have a short explanation of how chocolate is made, or you can go straight in to their small shop. The women in the shop were incredibly friendly and they’re happy to let you try the chocolate too.

Results: What Is The Best Chocolate In Merida?

Enough yabbering on. What did we think? Well, once we got home the four of us sat down to the very important job of tasting all this chocolate. Can you imagine how excited my kids were? Almost as excited as the evening we decided was chocolate evening and whisked them down to Ki’Xocolatl for a chocolate supper and more excited than the day I announced it was ice cream tasting day is about where I’d place their excitement levels!

So here goes:

Ki’Xocolatl Milk Chocolate with peanuts and salt ($74 pesos) – kids loved it and immediately decreed it was their favourite despite not having tried any of the others. Col and I both found it to be a bit pasty but actually, having just laid them all out on the table before me, it’s the one I’ve returned to to gobble again and again. After being in the fridge it is pretty damned fantastic.

Ki’Xocolatl 72% Dark Chocolate ($74 pesos) – our boy loved it, gave it two thumbs up, our randomly discerning small girl decided it tasted a bit of jamaica (hibiscus) but she still liked it. Col and I thought it was a really interesting flavour and we’d definitely go back for more.

Ki’Xocolatl cheaper milk chocolate ($48 pesos) – kids loved. Col thought it was smooth and caramel tasting. I also thought it was delicious and creamy. On first tasting this was my favourite of all the chocolates although I think after some refrigeration time it takes a slight dive in the rankings.

Yum Kin ($64 pesos) – this is purely cacao and sugar but looked and tasted pretty bad. Neither kid liked this. Col and I felt it was too sweet and crumbly with no chocolate to be tasted over all the sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clatier Cookies and Cream ($43 pesos) – I shouldn’t have bought cookies and cream flavour as I suspect the brand does other flavours better. Surprisingly neither kid liked this, our sweet fiend boy even said this was too sweet for him. Col felt it tasted like liquid cookie and didn’t enjoy it. I thought it was ok and although I wouldn’t eat more of this particular flavour I can see that it is good quality chocolate.

I’ll certainly buy the brand again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chukka – liquor filled chocolate pyramids ($43 pesos) – the kids didn’t want to try these as they were alcoholic but eventually the small girl did. She proclaimed it to be ‘yuck’. I agree with her. The chocolate was old, crumbly and tasted pasty with some weird solid lump of sugary alcohol in the middle. I wouldn’t ever eat these again. Col said it wasn’t the worst chocolate he’d ever had, I’m not sure I’d agree.

Mina Kim – pure cacao button ($45 pesos) – sadly this was disgusting! I so wanted to like this as the shop and the manager were lovely but the chocolate itself was, for us, inedible. Luckily, we’d also purchased other bits and pieces from here that were all delicious so while we didn’t enjoy the chocolate, I highly recommend going and checking out this little store for some other yummy treats.

The final one was Chocol Haa Maya, a chocolate made in Valladolid and sold in the museum on Paseo de Montejo for an extortionate $70 pesos. It was absolutely not worth the money. The texture, while certainly not to my liking (crumbly and sugary), was similar to the chocolate sold in Oaxaca, I guess it’s kind of a Mexican chocolate but it certainly isn’t anything I enjoy. The kids didn’t enjoy it either. Col thought it the flavour was ok if you could ignore the texture.

 

If we had to put them in order it would be unsurprisingly ki’Xocolatl first by a million miles, then Clatier and then, um, nothing quite frankly. If you don’t want to splash out on those two, then buy a Snickers bar from any Oxxo and keep quiet! And if chocolate isn’t your thing, can I persuade you to have an ice cream or six?

Did I miss any local chocolate? I’m a giver who keeps on giving so if I missed any that really, really must be reviewed, please let me know…for the good of the readers, obviously.


Cassie

Mexico Cassie is technically British Cassie but who cares? Currently in the process of moving one family across the ocean and back to Mexico. Hurrah!

25 Comments

Martha · 01/02/2018 at 11:44 pm

I recently went vacationing in Belize and they also have delicious chocolate that’s derived from Mayan recipes. The chocolate in Latin America is some of the best chocolate in the world! What a fun assignment for your kiddos to participate in!

Tom · 02/02/2018 at 8:44 am

Haha how funny. I did not even know that Mayans were already using cacao back in those days. Neither did I know Mexico was famous for chocolate, so thanks for educating me on that. I googled how much a peso was and damn those prices are good. It would actually make me eat way more chocolate than in Europe! 🙂

Caroline · 02/02/2018 at 6:52 pm

Ok, you totally had me at chocolate 😉 What a great guide, loved reading more about how chocolate plays into the history and culture of Mexico. And I will have to get down there sometime to check all these places out!

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for stopping by. Hope you do get here someday.

umiko · 02/02/2018 at 7:25 pm

Mmm…. chocolate!!! I love chocolate and would like to try them all. Now, where can I find them in the U.S.?

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 8:08 pm

    Ha! I don’t know. I wonder if the good stuff has been exported.

umiko · 02/02/2018 at 7:25 pm

Mmm…. chocolate!!! I love chocolate and would like to try them all. Now, where can I find them in the U.S.?

Max | Dame Cacao · 02/02/2018 at 7:50 pm

Now THIS is what I’m talking about! ki’chocolatl got me through some tough times for the brief period I lived in Playa Del Carmen, and while it’s certainly not the best chocolate in Mexico, I’d give it my stamp of approval. Check out Oaxaca or Veracruz or Tobasco if you want some amszing aithentic chocolate experiences (for research, of course). The crumbly texture you didn’t like is the low processing that chocolate traditionally had, so that’s more old school and authentic in style, but way too easy to mess up. My guess is that a lot of the makers use low-qualit and badly-fermented local beans, the stuff that craft makers wouldn’t buy. Usually old school chocolate is made into a drink, so as with my solution for all sub-par chocolate, throw it in a pot with some milk and make old-style hot chocolate! Now you can thank ME later. 😉

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 8:11 pm

    I’d agree it doesn’t stand up necessarily against some European brands of chocolate but for me it beats anything I had in Oaxaca. Haven’t been to Tabasco or Veracruz yet though. Now I have to go…for research, as you so rightly point out!

    I know the crumbly stuff is all authentic ‘n shit but i don’t necessarily think authentic means good! We have saved all the crappy stuff to add to cooking or to make hot chocolate.

Alissa · 02/02/2018 at 7:59 pm

This is such a great post!! When I was in Merida I didn’t try any chocolate… now I feel like I missed out hahaha. Thanks for providing us with a history of chocolate as well. Learned a lot reading this post and also really enjoyed your tongue-in-cheek writing style. Thank you!

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks! Sorry you missed out on chocolate so now you’ll just have to come back. And thrilled you like my style.

Michelle · 02/02/2018 at 8:14 pm

Definitely saving this for future reference! Looks like a lot of yummies!

Lena · 02/02/2018 at 8:42 pm

I love Chocolate, and while I have never been to Mexico, I have visited a cocoa plantation in Venezuela before. I wonder if there are plantations like this in Mexico as well, where visitors can learn how cocoa is harvested and made into chocolate. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you check it!
While visiting there I tried the best chocolates I have ever tried and we also bought a cocoa liquor that was just pure heaven for any chocolate lover.
I loved your review and will definitely try the ki’Xocolatl when I visit Merida in the future.

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 9:27 pm

    Good idea, I’ll look out for a plantation tour.

Josy A · 02/02/2018 at 9:55 pm

Wow. What a difficult and trying life you lead. You are soooo good to out yourself out on a limb and have a hard working holiday researching chocolate for us blog readers. 😉

This is brilliant! It sounds waaaay more fun than the tour of cadburys world in birmingham! Now your kids have tried the best, what do they think of chocolate in the UK!?

    Cassie · 02/02/2018 at 10:31 pm

    I know, it’s tough. I suspect my kids are still super happy with English chocolate tbh. We don’t give them much generally but they’re not super refined in their taste, oddly! Now if we could find Cadbury mini eggs here we’d all be over the moon!

Heidi · 03/02/2018 at 9:10 am

You had me at chocolate. I didn’t realize chocolate was first found in Mexico. I had kinda figured it was somewhere in South America or Asia. But YAY for Mexico and for you getting to sample so many different types and flavors. OMG, heaven on earth for sure. I don’t like the flavor of pure cocoa either. It’s just a little too bitter and chalky for me but still wow, I’m just a bit jealous. As a tip, don’t miss out on the Moroccan dark chocolate when you get there 🙂

    Cassie · 03/02/2018 at 2:38 pm

    Moroccan chocolate. Got it!

Neha · 03/02/2018 at 1:35 pm

Wow, it must have been a really trying and difficult day. All that walking around, trying out different chocolates 🙂 My kind of day really. I always thought chocolate came from South America, so I guess I stand corrected now. You know i have nightmares sometimes about the chocolate supply drying up in my lifetime :-/

    Cassie · 03/02/2018 at 2:37 pm

    I know, I have a tough life. And yeah it would be awful if the chocolate is all gone. Let’s not let that happen.

Melissa · 03/02/2018 at 2:29 pm

As a fellow chocolate lover, this sounds like an amazing day. I had no idea chocolate was invented in Mexico. One more reason, I guess, to love this beautiful country.

    Cassie · 03/02/2018 at 2:36 pm

    Indeed. Thanks should be offered for chocolate!

Erika · 03/02/2018 at 2:38 pm

I grew up on Abuelita so Mexican chocolate is close to my heart. lol Let’s be honest even if I hadn’t it’d be close to my heart because I LOVE dark chocolate. I’m eager to try some of the recommended bars you so kindly and arduously researched for us lol on my next visit to the region. Great post!

Theresa · 03/02/2018 at 4:33 pm

I’m a true history geek, so I loved learning the background on chocolate. I knew a bit, but not this much! Your writing is stellar, and now I want chocolate, so you’ve done your job. Thanks for taking one for the team.

    Cassie · 03/02/2018 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks so much. And, of course, you’re welcome. I’m here for all your chocolaty needs.

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