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What should I do with my bag of cacao beans?


tammylc
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I was in my local natural foods market this afternoon, and back in the clearance section they had bags of whole raw peeled organic cacao beans. I decided I had to buy some, so I now have .61 lbs of beans.

What can I do with them? I assume I could make some sort of primitive chocolate by roasting them then grinding them with some sugar? Any thoughts along that line or otherwise?

Edited by tammylc (log)

Tammy's Tastings

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I don't want to crush you by saying HERE'S a topic on using nibs!

Ha! Ya get it - crush - nibs - sorry, I'm very tired :wacko:

Anyway, I use my beans, whole or crushed in pastries all the time as a texture provider. And they're great since they aren't sweet. Of course, those are roasted already.

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Thanks, Rob. Unfortunately that thread is a real mix, since it talks about both whole beans and already crushed nibs. But I got a few ideas and links to work from.

If I can find a Champion Juicer I'll probably try making some chocolate liqueur and then mixing it with sugar to make an Italian style crunchy chocolate - I don't have any refining equipment at home and don't plan on investing in any!

Anybody else have any ideas?

Tammy's Tastings

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Hi Tammy, I have made a crude batch of chocolate with my nibs. Then I made brownies with them and the brownies were awesome. People were impressed that the chocolate was made and the taste of the brownies was very good. I would like to buy some beans and do micro batches of chocolate.

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Tammy, I use my Sumeet spice grinder to make the chocolate liquor from the nibs, works wonderfully. I bet if you let it run for 5 minutes or so it would make a pretty respectable unconched chocolate.

Or make the caramelized nibs from Chocolate Obsession.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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I wonder if you could make "coffee sugar" in the same way you'd make vanilla sugar. It would be really good on the top of a creme brulee, wouldn't it?

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I bring back cacao from Oaxaca. I roast the beans, peel them, and then use my high power Vita-Mix to create a chocolate liquor. It is hard going as the Vita-Mix will shut off to protect against overheating. But the alternative of grinding with a heated metate just isn't an option for me. In Oaxaca, the shops have motorized grinding stones that do the job in minutes. If you do a search for Oaxaca Chocolate on youtube, you'll probably find some good videos to watch.

I found a Champion juicer at a second hand store for $15 and bought it specifically to make chocolate liquor. It worked okay but was really messy.

Edited by Jay Francis (log)
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I bring back cacao from Oaxaca.  I roast the beans, peel them, and then use my high power Vita-Mix to create a chocolate liquor.  It is hard going as the Vita-Mix will shut off to protect against overheating.  But the alternative of grinding with a heated metate just isn't an option for me.  In Oaxaca, the shops have motorized grinding stones that do the job in minutes.  If you do a search for Oaxaca Chocolate on youtube, you'll probably find some good videos to watch.

I found a Champion juicer at a second hand store for $15 and bought it specifically to make chocolate liquor.  It worked okay but was really messy.

Jay, can you tell me anything more about using the Vita-Mix? I have access to one of those, but not a Champion Juicer. I've read the basic outline on Chocolate Alchemy - do i need strain the mixture some how afterwards?

My beans claim to be already peeled. So does that mean there's no shell and it's all nib?

Tammy's Tastings

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My beans claim to be already peeled. So does that mean there's no shell and it's all nib?

The beans you have sound like they are all nib without shells. If you click on the pic of cacao seeds here http://www.fieldmuseum.org/CHOCOLATE/making_harvest3.html , you can enlarge it for a better view. If this is what you have, they haven't been shelled.

From what I know of chocolate making, the beans are harvested, allowed to ferment & dry, & then shipped to factories. At the factory they are roasted, shelled, coarsely ground & then finely ground to make a chocolate you can eat. During grinding, sugar & vanilla are added in to improve the flavor.

I'm guessing that you have beans that have been fermented, dried & shelled. They still must be roasted & ground.

Virtual tour of a chocolate factory: http://www.artisanconfection.com/stores/sc...tory/vtour3.asp Note that Scharffenberger roasts the beans first, then removes the shells.

I posted a photo of chocolate-making on a metate from my visit to Oaxaca last year. You might be able to replicate this process with a food processor, followed by some grinding in a mortar & pestle for a finer texture. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=109983 The beans should be warm to form a paste.

But I have this question: the raw beans are perishable. I hope your beans haven't gone rancid. Maybe roast & taste a few before you continue with this project?

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My beans do look like the ones in the picture, so it would seem they haven't been shelled?

They are on clearance because they are just a few days from their best-before date. So i'm not necessarily expecting the most from them! i'll try roasting them up and see what they're like after that.

Thanks!

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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My beans do look like the ones in the picture, so it would seem they haven't been shelled?

I would say so. If I remember correctly, shelled beans have a very different look from unshelled beans. The fact that the beans haven't been shelled is better for you. The shells should keep them fresher longer.

On the timeline of chocolate-making, you've got the raw beans from the farm. You are now the chocolate factory that must roast, hull, & grind them. :biggrin:

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Sumeet spice grinder. I don't have one of those either.  :sad:

I don't have a Sumeet grinder, either, though I've used them at other people's kitchens. I've gotten comparable results by first grinding the ingredients in a food processor & finishing the paste in a mortar & pestle. It works!

The Sumeet is only a super high-powered blender. You could try your blender, but I have a feeling that it would not work well to grind cacao.

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There are a number of different things that you can do with a bag of cocoa beans. First though, be sure to roast them. There are a number of "raw-foodies" out there who encourage people to eat raw beans. This is a bad thing and is bound to get somebody very sick one day. Cocoa beans can carry e-coli as well as salmonella and because of this, roasting is very important. A few years ago, Cadbury had to issue a giant recall because of bad chocolate and if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone.

To roast, you can spread out the beans on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven for about 20 minutes at 350F. I'm not sure of the actual time because I do it by smell and taste followed by an infrared thermometer to keep me on track. Roasting starts when the beans reach 210F and can go up from there industrially, roasting can happen in roasters with temperatures as high as 425 degrees F. but for short periods of time. Be sure to transfer the cocoa beans to a cool cookie sheet when they are done and place in a cold place (preferably with a fan) to cool the beans quickly. They are continuing to roast as long as they are above 210 degrees. (That's why we have a 4,000 cubic foot / min blower hooked to our cooling table. It is incredibly overkill but it cools the beans down to almost room temperature in about two minutes.)

Once your beans are done, you can remove the husk. The husk is a papery shell that surrounds each bean. Simply crush the bean between your thumb and forefinger and you'll see it is there. Since you only have just over 1/2 lb, you can remove the husks by hand and wont' take too long. For larger amounts of beans you will have to figure a way to winnow out the husks. (A fan and a large bowl work well.)

Now you have nibs. Since you only have .6lb, it is probably not enough to make chocolate with. Especially with a Champion Juicer. Champions are great but a lot of chocolate gets stuck inside and if you start out with very few beans to start with, you will have significantly less by the time you are through. You might be able to do something with a VitaMix or a Cuisinart since they don't trap ingredients like the Champion does. Just keep forcing the chocolate back down into the blades and watch your fingers. It will eventually get to a point where it will start to stick together in one large mass. You will have to fight with it a bit to get it past this stage. Warming it in a pan (or microwave) will help keeping it from gluing itself together too much. Add your sugar once the beans have liquefied and process until you feel it is "done."

In your case, I'd work with the nibs directly since the above instructions don't work well unless you have at least a couple of pounds to play around with. You can use the nibs for chocolate chip cookies, in a bowl of strawberries, sugar, and vanilla, in salads perhaps with a citrus vinaigrette, and a number of other creations. Let your imagination be your guide. Of course, nibs are great by themselves.

-Art

Edited by Art (log)

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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Thanks for the informative post, Art. I was wondering how to roast cacao beans.

I recently baked Alice Medrich's cocoa nib cookies with some Scharffenberger nibs. I hadn't made them in a while, & I remembered how great they are. I made my cookies with toasted almonds. An adapted recipe for the cookies on this blog: http://dessertfirst.typepad.com/dessert_fi..._high_frid.html

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I baked them last night, and crushed them up into nibs. They really must have been somehow pre-peeled as the bag said, because there wasn't any kind of papery husk when I crushed them. So now I have a tupperware container of crushed nibs.

I'd really like to experiment with some kind of chocolate making, so I might borrow a Vitamix just to see what I can get!

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Check out the Chocolate Alchemy website for info on how to make your own chocolate from cacao beans.

Yep, I've already read through it. I don't the equipment and am certainly not going to invest in it for my 0.6 lbs! But it's neat to read, that's for sure.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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