Since this post 3 years ago, I visited the Maras Salt Ponds just a few weeks ago. Words cannot describe the magnificence of the Sacred Valley we traveled from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It was the trip of a lifetime!
I am excited about the next chocolate season and using Maras Salt in one or more of my creations. The chocolate I had in Peru was out-of-this-world so I’d like to do a combination of Peruvian Chocolate and Maras Salt. Yum! It is an earthy, robust, salty salt. Plum Brook Chocolate won the 2016 CT Specialty Food Awards in the Chocolate Category for our salted caramels with Maras Salt! Who knows what next season will bring?
Here I am at the Maras Salt Ponds, Peru
Original Post: This week we made a fresh batch of salted caramel topped with Inca salt brought to me by my brother-in-law John and his wife Helen who recently returned from a trip to Peru. Maras is a town along the slopes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and known for its salt evaporation ponds. People here still collect salt from the ponds just as they did thousands of years ago.
Peruvian women collecting salt from Maras salt pond. (photo courtesy of JC Dorgan)
Since pre-Inca times, salt has been obtained in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. This highly salty water emerges at a spring from the underground stream. The flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds. Maras is near the city of Cusco that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Set at an altitude of 11,150 feet, it’s the gateway to the Inca Trail that ends at the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu.
Peru and cacao share an age-old intimate relationship. It has been said that the cacao shrub originated in the foothills of the Andes where it was domesticated then introduced by the Maya in Central America and Mexico. Today Peruvian cacao is recognized for its superb flavor and exports are on the rise.
So it seemed very fitting that we give this ancient salt a try! Flor de Sal is a very robust and salty salt, more so than the milder French Fleur de Sel we usually use to top our caramels.
Plum Brook Chocolate Salted Caramels topped with Maras “Flor de Sal”.
We love the taste of Maras salt on our caramels!
UPDATE! Our salted caramels with Maras salt received the blue ribbon – first place – in Connecticut from the CT Specialty Foods Awards 2016!