How is chocolate made: A delicious, step-by-step guide
We all love chocolate and that’s a fact! Regardless of the fact that it’s white, brown, or black, with fruity filling or just milk, with nuts, raisins or mint, chocolate is the most appreciated desert all over the world. The creamy texture and sweet, delicious taste make us crazy about a piece and we crave it like crazy when we don’t have it.
But, did you ever wonder how this amazing treat is made? What does it take to transform the cocoa bean that grows in a tree in Africa into this delicate and wonderful food? If you’re curious, we put together a step-by-step guide that will take you through the process of chocolate making.
As we already mentioned, to make chocolate, you need cocoa. This grows in a very specific region of the world, in trees, and is harvested manually. The cocoa beans are surrounded by a fibrous pulp and encased in pods. So, to take them out, workers break open the pods and remove the beans and the pulp together. However, at this stage, the beans are extremely bitter which makes them useless.
To prepare them for the nutty goodness that is chocolate, workers pile the beans and the pulp in underground containers and cover them with banana leaves. The beans remain covered, in the sun, until the pulp is transformed into alcohol through fermentation. To make the beans ready for use, the mixture is stirred from time to time – this transforms the alcohol on acetic acid. At the end of the fermentation, in the container there will only be beans (the pulp is leaked through holes). This process changes the bitter flavor and gives the beans the taste that we love in chocolate. Actually this period is crucial and, if not done correctly, the final taste can suffer.
Once the fermentation is over, the beans need to be dried up and then they are bagged and shipped to factories all over the world.
The how to
We can’t give you a step-by-step chocolate recipe because these are heavily-guarded secrets. Each manufacturer has their own special blend that gives a specific flavor, texture, and taste. The secret starts with the type of beans used and continues with the percentage of cocoa in the recipe.
The general process starts with selecting the right beans and then roasting them. Once this step is completed, the beans are grinded into cocoa dust and go through several grinders that reduce the size of each particle to the desired level of fineness. In this stage, the particles are mixed with cocoa butter and the grinder’s job is to make sure each particle is evenly covered. The size of these particles will decide the taste and texture of the resulted chocolate.
The next step consists in mixing the particles covered in cocoa butter with other ingredients (which are decided by the recipe). Usual ingredients are sugar, milk, lecithin, vanilla, and more.
The next step is called conching – there is a conch machine that kneads the resulted mixture for hours or days (again, big secret) until the desired texture and taste is achieved. The same machine will also form chocolate bars that are passed along to a forming machine where they will get the final form.