Making Chocolate – from start to finish! Step by step: CACAO CAUVICO! Every tree bearing ripe pods, or conches, that are about 5 inches in diameter, is named after that tree. Each concept contains 30 tightly packed, evenly sized, red seeds, called cacao beans, and it’s these beans that we know as chocolate (or cocoa).
So what’s so special about making chocolate? It’s the dark, bitter-sweet, melt-in-your mouth goodness of the chocolate. In my opinion, nothing compares to the first cup of chocolate dipped in warm milk, with just a hint of the melt-in-your-mouth quality of hot chocolate. Then, as you bite into a slice and watch the delicious creamy melt-in-your-mouth pudding, your sense of taste is elevated to new heights.
For my chocolate making process, I like to start off with a good brand of high quality, dark chocolate. I prefer Hershey’s Chocolate bars. I find that their dark chocolate has a very pleasant, smooth flavor that I can taste in all of their products, including their American Chocolate Bars. When making chocolate at home, try to find a brand of high quality, all natural, organic chocolate that does not use any added heat or artificial processing, and that does not use any added water. When making chocolate at home, the higher the quality of the product, the higher quality the end result will be.
When making chocolate at home, my personal favorite is Single Origin Chocolate. My preference is a triple-origin chocolate bar. I prefer a Swiss-made single-origin chocolate bar over the other two. The difference in the quality of this type of chocolate is due to the way the beans are processed and sealed.
Chocolate Making Techniques
Most home-grade chocolates have been treated with vegetable oil during the manufacturing process, which makes them less healthy for us. Although most people believe conching means heating up the contents of the cocoa beans to over 160 degrees F, this is not the case. The temperature used to conch only increases the melt-in time. Cocoa beans should never be heated to more than 150 degrees F.
A double cavity plastic bag was used during the Scharffenberger process (the name comes from the German name of the manufacturer) of making Scharffenberger chocolate. A plastic bag is placed inside the cavity of the chocolate maker, the top of the plastic is cut off leaving an opening for the air to flow through. As the bean mixture is drawn into the plastic bag, it is covered with boiling water. As the contents melt in the water, they are carried away through a cooling tube until they reach a temperature of around 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the chocolate in the bag reaches this temperature, it is taken out of the heat source and placed in a cooling refrigerator. The longer this is allowed to cool, the deeper the chocolate will take on its distinctive flavor. At this point, the bean can be further fermented but not for long, as the sugar concentration in the bean drops below the required level. After this, the bean is bottled for sale and shipped to local distributors who then ship their chocolate to chocolate shops all over the world. This process of making chocolate allows chocolate makers to produce different flavors by varying the proportion of bean solids and water content per chocolate bean.
In The End
In addition to making chocolate, Scharffenberger also developed a way to dry out the skins of the cocoa beans before fermentation. By using banana leaves as the source of moisture, the skins of the beans are not damaged and the flavor of the finished product is maintained. This is an important step that is necessary when making hard chocolate, such as Risotto. Without this step, the skins would begin to dry out, preventing the formation of hard, bitter flavoring and rendering the chocolate no longer enjoyable after the fermentation process.