The art of chocolate making is a fun process that makes millions of people happy each and every day. But how exactly is it done? Follow along for a trip through the process that produces our very own bean to bar chocolate made in Trat Thailand.
First What is Craft Chocolate?
Craft chocolate refers to small batches of chocolate made from ethically sourced cacao beans. The emphasis is on each batch’s individual flavour profile instead of mass marketing. Bean to bar chocolate is a phrase often used because the chocolate maker is in control of the entire process – from the picking of the bean to the making of the bar.
How is Chocolate Made?
The short answer: very carefully! The more precise answer: chocolate is made in an eight step process that turns the fresh pods picked from a cacao tree into the delightful treats enjoyed each day. This process includes sourcing, roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, coaching, tempering, and molding. If each of the steps are followed carefully, a smooth, shiny piece of chocolate is produced.
The first step to making craft chocolate is to source quality beans. Beans are sourced from cacao trees, and special care is taken to not harm the tree when cocoa pods are harvested. The pods are open, and then they are set aside in boxes in order to ferment.
Growing and processing the beans has an impact on the final flavour of the chocolate. Chocolate makers must pay special attention to how long harvested beans ferment, as fermentation is the biggest player in the taste of the end product. Other aspects that change the taste of chocolate is the amount of rain to which the beans were exposed, the climate’s temperature, soil conditions, and the process used to dry the beans after harvest. After appropriate fermentation, the beans are moved to the roaster to dry them out further.
Roasting the beans is done to promote the development of the best flavour possible. Lightly roasted beans tend to taste bitter, as the flavour profile does not fully form. Heavily roasted beans ignore the subtle flavours of the bean and just taste burnt. The middle ground is where the true flavour of the bean exists, and beans roasted this way produce the highest quality chocolate. Once roasted, the beans are ready to be cracked open to expose the cocoa nibs.
After roasting and cooling, the beans are then churned through a mill in order to crack the outside shell and separate it from the cacao inside, often called the “nib.” As they come out of the mill, the shells and nibs fall into buckets. These buckets are covered with screens to further separate the shells and nibs. Once separated, they are now prepared to be winnowed.
Winnowing removes the bean shells and leaves the nibs behind for further processing. This process involves blowing air across the buckets. As the shells weight much less than the nibs, they blow away, leaving only the cocoa bean body ready for grinding. The shells are then put aside and later packaged as chocolate tea, and the nibs are taken to the grinder.
The nibs then go through a grinder, where they are ground until their consistency is smooth. Cocoa butter and sugar are added during this time if required. The concoction is ground until fully smooth, and then it is moved to the conching machine.
Conching is where the chemistry that forms the chocolate’s final flavour profile and texture happens. Ingredients with solid particles, such as cacao and sugar, become round and smooth as the cocoa butter envelops them; this determines the overall texture of the final product. Chemicals like acetic acid evaporate, and the final flavour profile of the chocolate is determined.
It is important to pay close attention during the conching process. If the product is conched too much, the more subtle flavours of the profile will disappear. After carefully being conched, it is moved to the tempering machine for one of the final steps. At Anarchy Chocolate we temper chocolate by hand.
Tempering is changing the temperature of the now liquid chocolate in order to expand or shrink the crystals of cocoa butter so that the correct matrix is created. Chocolate that is tempered correctly is shiny, and when bent it snaps. Incorrectly tempered chocolate has a matrix that is disorderly or odd shaped. This chocolate lacks luster and will simply melt in a chocolate maker’s hands.
After being run through the tempering machine or tempered by hand, the liquid chocolate is then put into a mold. These molds can be custom made to reflect any brand and are typically made of food safe polycarbonate.
The chocolate is allowed to solidify at a cool temperature, and then it is popped out of the mold to be packaged and enjoyed.
Let’s Wrap this Up
The art of chocolate making is a long and precise practice. Because of this precision, chocolate makers have developed a plethora of flavour profiles that make chocolate tasting not only enjoyable, but an adventure as well.
To enjoy the ‘Taste of Freedom‘ visit our online store and browse Anarchy Chocolate products while stocks last.
The Art of Chocolate Making