-Santha wet/dry grinder
-Non-pourous cutting board
-One-piece soft rubber spatula
-Large plastic heat-proof/microwavable bowl
-2-3 smaller glass/ceramic bowls
-Chocolate tablet moulds
-Medical grade 2oz/60cc plastic syringe with plastic nozzle
-Hair Blow Dryer
-granulated cane sugar
Here is a photo of some of the materials. The Silestone slab that I’ll use for the tempering is underneath the table cloth…hiding. You’ll see that later.
Before I begin it is important to point out one thing:
Warning: Never get any water-based anything near chocolate. If even ONE drop falls into your chocolate, it will seize and be ruined. Keep this in mind for the entire chocolate making process.
I ordered two pounds of Ghana Forastero beans from Mr. Nanci at Chocolate Alchemy. I decided not to start with criollo due to it being slightly trickier to roast. I have roasted beans twice before to make Mexican chocolate, and both times I was happy with the result. Both times I also used Forastero, so it felt like a good place to start.
Because I haven’t wanted to invest in a cocoa bean cracker to break the beans down to nibs, I asked John to do that for me pre-roast. He winnowed them as well. The drawback to cracking and winnowing raw beans, however, is that the husk sticks to the bean a bit more and so one is left with a higher percentage of husk on the beans than if one were to do so after the roast. One expects to lose about 25% of the weight of the beans in husk, so from the two pounds of beans I bought, at the end of the winnowing process I should have had about 1 lb. 8 ounces. When my beans came I had about 1 lb. 12.5 ounces which told me that I needed to winnow a bit post roast. I’ll get to that in a moment.
For the roasting, I set the oven to 350 and placed the nibs in a ceramic baking dish. They were one inch deep and spread evenly. I placed the nibs in the oven when it was heated to 350, and took it out every 5 minutes to stir. Due to the constant opening of the oven, the heat was dropping from 350 down into the 200’s. When roasting in the oven, the idea is to start with a high heat to get the beans up to temperature as quickly as possible, and then lower it some to the roasting temperature. Due to the loss of heat every 5 minutes, and the fact that Forastero can take a pretty heavy roasting, I didn’t adjust the heat. At about minute 15 the kitchen began to fill with the smell of baking brownies. Actually the smell is better than baking brownies, but that is the closest smell I can compare it to. By minute 20 the beans were starting to become roasted enough to tell by looking (darker and glossier) and the smell had increased. By minute 25 when I stirred the beans, they seemed almost done as they had a strong brownie smell, with no hint of burnt odour and were quite a bit darker. I roasted them for two more minutes and then removed them. I tasted a couple nibs and the taste was a familiar deep cocoa flavour with its accompanying bitterness. I was happy with the roast and brought the beans out to cool, leaving them in the same dish they had roasted in.
Here are the beans pre-roast, and then…
Note the change in color of the beans.
After the beans were cool, I winnowed them once more to remove most of the rest of the husk. To understand how I winnowed (with a blow dryer), and why it is not imperative to remove every last little bit of the husk with the setup I am using, I can do no better than to quote John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy from his winnowing page at which there are also photos of the process:
“A few notes: For winnowing, just use any old hair dryer, although a small shop vac works great. Come in high and stir with your hands…You will soon work out how close the blowing air needs to be to blow the husk away, but not the nibs. After a few minutes, you should have a nice bowl of nibs ready for the Champion Juicer. Don't fret too much about a few pieces of husk here and there. The screen in the Champion will remove those few bits, and actually make a very nice filter bed.”
Here is a photo of the winnowed and roasted beans:
Next is grinding of the beans with the Champion juicer.
I started today by laying out everything I would need. This included:
1) Cocoa beans
2) Cocoa butter (heated until just melted)
3) One Piece spatula
4) Two large plastic microwave safe bowls
5) 2-3 smaller glass/ceramic bowls
7) Vanilla bean (dried)
8) Liquid Lecithin
9) Santha mixer
11) Food Processor
Cocoa Bean grinding:
First I melted the cocoa butter until it was just melted (not too hot), in the microwave. I used 6 ounces for the approximately 24 ounces of cocoa liquor I would end up with.
I started with 27.5 ounces of beans in a bowl, which included about a couple ounces of husk that didn’t get removed in the winnowing phase. I set up my champion with the small screen, and put the requisite bowls underneath the screen and underneath the waste output (one each). I turned on the Champion and ran the beans through at a moderate speed. After running the beans through one time I took a photo to show how much liquor had been extracted and how much “waste” existed.
Actually, as you can tell, there is quite a lot of liquor mixed in with the “waste” husks, so the idea is to run it through again and again until virtually all of the liquor is extracted. The grinding case of the Champion can hold 3-4 ounces of material, so with a small batch of chocolate like this, basically at the end, the compartment will be filled with a lot of husk and only a little liquor, with not much coming out of the waste spout. This is what I was looking for, so I ran it through two more times and here is a second photo to show the difference:
Finally, to wash out the last little bit of liquor from inside the grinding case, I ran the melted cocoa butter through the Champion and here is the final photo after the cocoa butter and liquor have been mixed together:
I weighed the resulting mixture and it came out to be 834 grams which is just a hair short of 30 ounces I anticipated (29.29 actually). Basically, then, most of what was left in the grinding cover was husk that had been filtered out, with a little bit of liquor. No big loss.
Sugar and vanilla bean grinding:
Next, I put the very dry 1/3 vanilla bean (1 gram) and the 16 ounces of pure cane granular sugar (455.52 grams) into a food processor and processed at high speed for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar was reduced to a fine powder. It is NOT possible to use powdered sugar from the store as it contains corn starch and will RUIN the chocolate. The sugar must be powdered at home from granular.
I measured out the approx. 2.65 grams of liquid lecithin. I need a better scale, and will buy one before I make chocolate again (preferably a pocket scale that measures in increments of .1 of a gram like the JS-500 or a similar scale). Using my Philips scale, I got the measurement somewhere between 2 and 3 grams. The amount that I wanted to add for my chocolate was .2% of the total mass of all the other ingredients (which was 1290.52 grams), since .2% is a fairly common amount to add in dark chocolates.
It is not that exciting, but here is a photo of the sugar and lecithin:
Chocolate mixing, refining, conching:
Finally, I heated the chocolate liquor/cocoa butter mixture up to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a microwave safe plastic bowl so that when I added it to the Santha wet/dry grinder, which is much cooler (being made of granite), it would still be relatively warm when I added the sugar, which is a good idea to keep the Santha from bogging down too much at the outset.
Here is a photo of the Santha pre-liquor. One can see its similarity to a large chocolate “melangeur”:
So I added the liquor first. Here is a photo of the Santha after adding ONLY the liquor. It is somewhat smooth, but one can still see a fine grain:
Then I added the sugar, vanilla, and lecithin. Here is a photo of the Santha after adding the sugar and lecithin to the liquor. It is no longer smooth, but rather is quite grainy, even after powdering the sugar, etc:
I set the timer for 5 hours. Here is a photo of the mixture at 5 hours (still too grainy)
7 hours (grainy still):
9 hours (probably acceptable grain for grocery store chocolate):
11 hours (acceptable grain for many store bought chocolates):
13 hours (acceptable grain for many high-end chocolates, but I wanted to refine a bit further):
Removed at 15 hours (extremely fine grain, practically not noticeable, but just short of what I consider the ultimate in mouthfeel—Domori Puertomar):
The finished chocolate weighed in at:
2 lbs 7.25 ounces (1117.5 grams) after removing it from the Santha.
Today is the final active step of chocolate making, the tempering and moulding.
I brought the chocolate (in a microwaveable bowl) up to 120 f in the microwave by heating it in 1 minute increments at a low power and stirring at each minute. After about 5 minutes it was at 120 f.
I ladled about 1/3 of the mixture onto my Silestone workspace leaving the rest in the plastic bowl to cool. At this point I spread it out and drew it up over and over again for about 2-3 minutes until the chocolate became thick and almost unmanageable. I then added this chocolate back to the reserved melted chocolate and stirred slowly with a thermometer until it had melted. The resulting temperature was 89 degrees when I was done with about 7 minutes of stirring.
Here are three photos showing three parts of the above process.
I then moved the chocolate over to the kitchen table where my moulds were waiting. I had pre-coated them with a thin layer of cocoa butter as many do for their filled bon bons. ( I would come to find out later that I did not coat them 100% evenly)
Filling the Moulds:
I filled each four ounce mould with two plastic syringes (2 oz) full of chocolate. I tried to work as fast as possible as the chocolate viscosity was quickly increasing. After filling one entire mould, I wrapped it firmly on the table to even out the chocolate and release some bubbles. Unfortunately, the photo of that step is slightly blurred and so it isn’t that easy to see that the chocolate smoothes out very nicely. I then placed the moulds in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes until they set.
After the chocolate had cooled in the fridge for 45 minutes I removed the moulds and de-moulded immediately. They had contracted, as I expected, and came right out of the moulds all in one piece and hard. Though the bars were quite shiny over all, I could tell that I didn’t apply the cocoa butter extremely skillfully in some areas, so there are places where the shine is a bit more matte. So, the lack of smoothness of the bars is due to two things. First, the cocoa butter issue, and secondly, that the moulds have a slight texture to them, which would have looked homogeneous, had I applied the cocoa butter more skilfully. Additionally, I slightly overfilled some of the bars. I should have added 3.9 ounces to each mould rather than the full 4 ounces in order to avoid this.
I took a photo of all the bars together, and then the best looking single one.
Finally, after about 15 hours of rest, here is a close up of one bar “snapped” in two so that you can see the texture. It had a very firm snap that I am really happy with, and the grain looks good too. This hints at a good temper, but I’ll keep everyone updated over the next few days if I notice any bloom at all. However, there are some air bubbles that I didn’t manage to get out of the chocolate. This impacts the “look” of the chocolate. I have decided that I will definitely invest in a chocolate vibrating table before I mould bars again. These bubbles would have been forced out of even this quite viscous chocolate with such vibration.
Technically, the chocolate should now “age” for some time to reach its peak in texture and flavor. I have seen suggested that 3 months is an adequate amount of time, though I don’t imagine that these bars will be around by then.
The best part of this experience is that the chocolate tastes absolutely fantastic, and the mouthfeel matches the flavor in quality. The grain of the chocolate is just barely recognizable (i.e., is a far finer grain than most chocolate bars…even many of the “artisanal” chocolates such as some of Amedei’s). I have never had a chocolate bar made with Forastero that is this good, and the bitterness that one would expect with a cocoa of this type is almost non-existent. Now, I can’t wait to buy some Ocumare (criollo) and experiment with that.
At any rate, I hope that some of you have enjoyed this demo, however imperfect it may be. I tried to document as much as possible to give everyone the feeling that you were here making the chocolate with me. Of course I can’t convey the magnificent smell of the roasting beans with their rich house-filling cocoa aroma, and I you can’t taste the finished product that is completely worth every bit of the time and effort, but hopefully you now have some sense of how to make chocolate at home, and better yet, the knowledge that it IS possible. The 21st century is here, home chocolate making is no longer kitchen fiction, and I dare say, and only half joking: “Be on the lookout Domori, the Chocolate Alchemists are on the prowl.” (Just don’t tell him I’m the one who said it)
Lastly, for all of you who are now interested in making your own chocolate, please come and visit the free Chocolate Alchemy Forum, where, in addition to eGullet, I have learned a lot of things that have helped me to finally make my own chocolate.
Comments welcome. I’ll answer any questions that I can.
Edited by A Patric, 11 February 2006 - 08:19 AM.