All great chocolate starts with the cacao beans. Beans can come from unique destinations like Madagascar, Belize, Ghana, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. Chocolate will taste different based on where the beans are grown. To begin the chocolate-making process, the beans are sorted to remove cracked or poorly fermented beans.
Many chocolatiers roast their beans in a kitchen oven or a home coffee roaster. Commercial chocolatiers may use a fluid bed machine or a drum roaster. The time spent roasting and the roasting temperature will dramatically affect the ending flavor of the chocolate.
After the beans are roasted, they must be cracked. A cracking machine crushes the roasted beans just enough to separate the outer shell from the nibs inside.
After cracking, the nibs are separated from the shells and are sorted into different-sized pieces using vibrating screens.
The flavor of the cocoa bean originates almost exclusively from the nib. In order to separate the shells from the nibs, a winnower is used to blow air over the cracked beans, lifting the light fibrous shells away from the heavier nibs.
Next, the nibs are ground with cane sugar or other of sweetener in a giant drum with two granite stone wheels. This grinding process can last for 24 hours or more until the particle size reaches about 20 microns or less. At this point, the sugar and the nibs have fully integrated and the chocolate feels silky on the tongue.
Some chocolatiers will then block their chocolate – storing the chocolate in blocks until it is ready to be made into bars. This is also called the aging process, which also helps in tempering the chocolate.
Tempering is the process of heating and cooling the chocolate. Tempering improves the consistency, durability or hardness of a substance. Tempered chocolate is very glossy, has a firm finish and melts smoothly at approximately body temperature.
9. Molding and wrapping
Once the chocolate is tempered, the chocolate is molded into bars. Once the bars cool, they are wrapped, either by hand or with a wrapping machine.
Once wrapped, the bars are ready to enjoy!