So, how does bean get to bar? Well, let me tell you, the way chocolate is made is bizarre.
How many of us can say we know how chocolate is made? Well, we tend to know it involves the cocoa bean, some milk and a whole lot of love. But is there more to it than that? I have the answers!
The process is not as complex as you might think.
The whole process starts with the cocoa bean.
First, the ripe cocoa pods are harvested. This usually occurs twice a year. Because cocoa trees are found all over the world, in a number of regions, the times and dates of harvesting can vary
The pods are cut open and a white, pulpy substance that houses the cocoa bean is removed. Because of geography and location, soil type and climate, the beans are not always the same which means that their tastes are different across the board.
Cocoa pods are huge – and actually kind of terrifying.
It gets a bit weirder: the pods and their pulp are left to ferment in large containers for between five to seven days. Interestingly, this process is very important. It is responsible for the development of the chocolate’s flavour and is why the person charged with this process can have a serious impact on the taste and quality of the finished product.
After the beans have fermented, they are then dried. Usually, this is done by laying the beans out, spreading them and leaving them to dry in the sun. After, they are popped into bags and transported all around the world.
It is very important they are totally dry at this point to prevent mould occurring while in transport. Mouldy chocolate – no thank you.
The delicious beans are sent everywhere – to Australia, America, Europe – anywhere you can imagine finding chocolate!
Once they arrive at their destination, a chocolate maker takes them into his or her possession. The beans are then roasted. This process can change depending on who is making the chocolate. Some individuals use ovens, while others have specialized systems that rotate the beans to roast them evenly. The temperature at which the beans are roasted, again, depends on the individual chocolate maker. But most keep this a secret!
Now, once the beans are roasted, they have a thin shell that surrounds them. The bean is cracked open so the shell can be removed. This process is called winnowing.
I winnowing we’re getting somewhere!
Once the shell is removed, the pure cocoa bean is left behind. Sometimes this is known as “nibs”.At this point, the cocoa nibs are ground into a paste known as cocoa mass. This is actually where cocoa butter comes from when it is extracted from the paste!
The cocoa mass is then transferred into a large machine called a “conch”. Then, sugar, milk powder and other flavours are added. This process greatly varies in time. It can take a few hours or a few days which impacts the chocolate in taste. That’s why this part of the process is so important in achieving super tasty chocolate!
The chocolate is then tempered. This occurs by raising and lowering the temperature of the chocolate.
Did you know that if you left chocolate untempered it would be crumbly and soft? Chocolate can be tempered by hand or machine.
Last but not least, the chocolate is finally poured into a mould. The mould can be any shape and size. Again, larger manufacturers will have machines for this process but many smaller chocolate makers do this by hand.
At the end, the chocolate is wrapped and sent to the various stores and retailers! This is where we pick it up and bring it home to munch on while we watch Pretty Little Liars!
Pretty interesting, hey?
We definitely have some bars worth checking out here.