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Our Chocolate making process from bean to bar
The journey from cocoa tree to chocolate bar is not complex, but it requires several steps, each of which requires careful treatment to get the best from the finished product. That’s what Kauma Chocolates make sure that how bean to bar chocolate is made, looking at every step of the chocolate-making process.
Artisan chocolate makers Like Us often deal directly with cocoa farmer cooperatives, giving them a say in how the beans are treated from the moment they’re harvested and ensuring the best taste and quality.
THE CACAO TREE
Chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is formally known as Theobroma Cacao. The cacao tree is very delicate and sensitive needing protection from wind and requires shade especially during its early years. Some strains can yield fruit after 3 or four years.
At its maturity, the cultivated tree measures from 15 to 25 feet tall, though the tree in its wild state may reach 60 feet or more. The fruit of the cacao tree is a football-shaped pod. Approximately 500 cacao beans will produce a pound of bittersweet chocolate.
When the fermentation is terminated the cacao beans are sun-dried. In small plantations, the fermented beans are spread by hand and later turned over by hand or foot. The drying process takes 1-2 weeks, and during that period the color changes from reddish-brown to dark brown.
SORTED CLEANED AND ROASTED
It is only after roasting that the distinctive, chocolate aroma becomes pronounced. Prior to this stage, a person with a developed sense of smell will be able to detect a slight chocolate scent but following roasting the aroma becomes nearly intoxicating — beautiful, rich, and laden with the heady, euphoric scent of pure chocolate.
After roasting, the beans are “winnowed” to remove the shells from around the bean, leaving only the roasted cocoa nib, which is the key ingredient for making chocolate. Machines crack the beans open. Then powerful fans blow over the beans carrying the lighter shells away, leaving behind pure cocoa pieces called nibs.
GRINDING OF NIB
After roasting and winnowing, the cocoa nibs are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor (a.k.a cocoa mass). Chocolate liquor contains both cocoa solids and cocoa butter in roughly equal proportion. Cocoa liquor is not alcoholic; it is so named because it flows out in a liquid form. Cocoa liquor is a deep, dark brown color, extremely aromatic with a rich, bitter taste. Cocoa liquor can rightfully be thought of as the “essence of the bean”.
The penultimate process is called conching. Conching further refines the chocolate mass with continued grinding. It is at this stage in manufacturing where the maker adds more ingredients such as sugar, milk powder (only if making milk chocolate), and other ingredients and flavorings. Each chocolate maker has his or her own preferred time for conching. It can be as little as a few hours or as long as a few days.
Chocolate liquor is blended with cocoa butter in various quantities to make different types of chocolate. The basic blends of ingredients for the various types of chocolate (in order of highest quantity of cocoa liquor first) are:
Dark chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and (sometimes) vanilla
Milk chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla
The final process in making chocolate is called tempering. Uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter typically results in crystals of varying size, some or all large enough to be clearly seen with the naked eye. This causes the surface of the chocolate to appear mottled and matte, and causes the chocolate to crumble rather than snap when broken. The uniform sheen and crisp bite of properly processed chocolate are the result of consistently small cocoa butter crystals produced by the tempering process.
The tempering process–
Generally, the chocolate is first heated to 50 °C to melt all six forms of crystals.
Next, the chocolate is cooled to about 27 °C, for a few minutes which will allow crystal types IV and V to form. At this temperature, the chocolate is agitated to create many small crystal “seeds” which will serve as nuclei to create small crystals in the chocolate.
The chocolate is then heated to about 31 °C to eliminate any type IV crystals, leaving just type V. After this point, any excessive heating of the chocolate will destroy the temper and this process will have to be repeated.