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.
After the cacao beans are grown, fermented, processed into cacao liquor and then set into chocolate pieces, they make their way to us.
Chocolatiers are qualified chefs, and a specialisation within the world of pastry chefs. They use their skills and years of experience to create a balanced flavour profile for their products.
For the chocolate base, some will choose to work with single origin chocolates and others will blend their own mixes to get a perfect flavour profile. That’s just what we do at Treat Dreams, using a mix of organic and fair-trade chocolates to produce the best flavour while also taking care of farmers and our earth.
Painting edible art
Once the perfect chocolate to work with has been selected chocolatiers get to work on preparing their moulds. We polish our moulds, then paint them with tempered cacao butter colours to create our iconic splash effects - and give chocolate lovers a little clue to the flavours on the inside.
Once the moulds are prepared it’s time to temper the chocolate! Tempering is a process of melting the chocolate to the correct temperature to generate beta crystals for shine and snap. This process also preserves the silky mouthfeel from all the hard work the chocolate makers put it.
Tempering chocolate is both an art and a science. The science requires temperature accuracy within just 1-1.5 celcius to reach, and stay, in temper. The art is when you learn how to adjust for environmental factors like humidity, room temperature and different tools.
You can spot untempered chocolate which will ‘bloom’ producing white spots that look like mould. These fat blooms occur when there aren’t enough beta crystals in the chocolate for it to form together properly. A result of either incorrectly tempering chocolate at the making stage or if the chocolate becomes melted and then reset when the temperature has cooled (don’t leave chocolates in your car or handbag!).
Chocolate that has bloomed is still fine to eat, it will just have a less silky mouthfeel, be a little chalky in texture and not melt as easily when you eat it.
If you have the skills to temper you can remelt a bloomed chocolate bar and remould it. Or pop it into some hot soy milk and enjoy a hot choccie!
If you'd like to learn how to temper chocolate, check out one of our chocolate classes.
Moulding and fillings
After tempering we mould the chocolate shells ready to carry for our tasty fillings.
We create our retail fillings to maximise taste and nostalgia, transporting you back to your childhood, but in a high end format for adult palates.
The bonbons we create for special occasions, such as weddings and corporate events, often have multiple layers of filling, with each taste and texture designed to compliment the others. The more layers, the more challenging the process.
After the shells are filled we let the fillings set for up to 24 hours. Once the filling has been set we seal the chocolates with more tempered chocolate.
Demould and pack
The closed chocolate bars are de-moulded using a method which is often scary for first-timers! We pop the moulds up on their sides and give them a gentle push down the bench where the mould crashes with a bang and releases the chocolates. Surprisingly most chocolates emerge perfectly, unharmed, shiny and delicious.
The next stage of our process is bag ‘em up! Every treat you eat has been hand packed in our Sydney factory. We love our little spotty package designs which show you with bright, fun colours which flavour you’re grabbing so you can find those pineapple bears or that PB&J bar quickly on the shelf.
The next part, well that’s the best bit, isn’t it? The customers take their treats home (or have them delivered to their door, hello online stockists!) and enjoy. Hopefully now mindful of the countless people involved in the growing, transport, making and crafting processes of their favourite treats.
Cacao farmers deserve a fair trade
Our knowledge about the darker side of the chocolate industry and the exploitation of growers makes us proud to create fair-trade chocolate treats which are accessible to so many Australians. While the fair-trade system is not perfect it is still one of the best ways that individual consumers can vote with their dollar every time they enjoy chocolate to ensure that the people at the beginning of this process of chocolate creation are paid fairly for the labour, no longer marginalised and have the power to negotiate with chocolate buyers on a more even playing field.
If you’d like to learn more about the fair-trade system we’ll have a more in-depth article tackling some of the key issues around the cacao industry coming up.
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.
Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring the world of chocolate and how it makes it to your favourite chocolatiers.
In Part 2 we’ll dive into the chocolate production process and explore how chocolate makes it to you.
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.