Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring the world of chocolate and how it makes it to your favourite chocolatiers.
Haven't seen Part 1 | Country of Origin yet? Check it out, then loop back to join us.
In Part 2 we’ll dive into the chocolate production process and explore how chocolate makes it to you.
Sort and roast
The largest chocolate makers in the world are found in Europe, with Switzerland, France and Belgium particularly well known for the quality of the chocolate they produce.
With the dried beans safely with the chocolate makers, they begin the process of creating the chocolate we love.
These makers sort the dried cacao beans - generally by hand - to remove any damaged in transit and remove any stones or gravel from the farms.
Beans are then roasted to the makers preferred style. The roasting process, like the fermentation process, is a significant part of the flavour profile development and requires skill to deliver a great result. Just like your favourite coffee beans, small changes in roast temperature and duration make a big difference to the end flavour!
Crack and winnow
The next stage of the process is to crack and winnow the beans! Terms simply mean to crack open the outer husk of the shell and remove it to just leave the cacao nib.
You've likely seen these babies in health food stores and on top of smoothie bowls! They're effectively the meat of the cacao bean and the basis of chocolate.
Source: The Wholefood Collective
Grind, refine, mill + conche
The cacao nibs are then ground, refined, milled and conched - a process which transforms the nibs and other ingredients into chocolate.
This process typically uses several highly specialised machines.
First a stone grinder, or melanger, grinds and liquifies the nibs, producing cacao liquor, a non-alcoholic liquid.
Second, a mill then rolls this liquor into even smaller particle sizes, hello silky smoothness!
Finally, a conche emulsifies the liquor with other ingredients such as sugar and vanilla. In the case of couverture chocolate, extra cacao butter is added for an even silkier mouthfeel.
Skilled craftspeople are important at all of these stages to create the silky mouthfeel that we love about chocolate. They'll tread a delicate balance between processing the cacao products long enough for the particle size to be silky smooth on your tongue and avoid over processing to the point where the complex flavours of the beans can be lost.
This complex process is an art form and a protected method of production in Europe. The word ‘chocolate’ can only be used for products that are made this way and contain cacao butter and cacao mass (that cacao liquor we mentioned earlier). In other parts of the world, Australia included, producers can mix cacao butter with cacao powder (a stripped back version of the original cacao product which misses out on key components essential for taste, texture, and quality) and call it chocolate.
From liquid to chocolate drops
Chocolate makers take this liquid made with cacao mass and cacao butter and set it into products for chocolatiers to use for their own chocolate products. They typically create either chocolate drops, known as buttons, feves or callets, or into massive 10-100kg blocks.
Check in soon for Part 3 which gives you the inside scoop about our part, the Chocolatiers at Treat Dreams!
We’ve touched on the concept of Fairtrade certification a few times throughout this series so far and this week we’re deep diving into covering what it’s all about.
It’s time for our favourite part of this in-depth look at how chocolate is grown and produced. This part is all about us, the chocolatiers!
A chocolatiers job is to take the chocolate makers product and turn it into confections.
Are you ready to take a journey through chocolate with us?
We’re kicking off our blog series for you with an in-depth look at how chocolate is made and what it takes to get your favourite treat to you from farming, to processing to production.