How Chocolate Is
is made from the cocoa bean, found in pods (illustrated above) growing from the trunk and lower
branches of the Cacao Tree, Latin name 'Theobroma Cacao' meaning "food of the gods".
Chocolate as we know it
today was largely made possible by three events:
In 1828, Dutch chemist
Johannes Van Houten, invented a method of extracting the fat or "cocoa butter" from
ground cocoa beans. The resulting 'cocoa' powder was much less bitter tasting and, when combined
with sugar or honey, made a drink much more palatable to our taste.
This process known as the Van Houten
process made it possible for Fry & Sons of Bristol, England to manufacture and sell the first
solid chocolate bar
In 1875 a Swiss manufacturer, Daniel
Peters also used the Van Houten process to successfully combine chocolate with powdered milk to
produce the first milk chocolate.
Producing chocolate is a time consuming and complicated process, but we have endeavoured to
provide a simplified guide which we hope you will find easy to understand:
The first step is the harvesting of the cocoa pods containing the cocoa beans.
The Pods are crushed and the beans and surrounding pulp extracted and fermented naturally for about six days in
either open heaps or boxes after which the beans are dried.
The finest chocolate is produced when the drying process is done naturally by the sun for 7
days or more.
Accelerated or artificial drying is quicker, but produces inferior quality chocolate, mainly
used in mass produced products and cake coverings.
The next process is shared with coffee in that the beans are first graded, then roasted.
Roasting times depend on the type and size of the beans, like coffee this can also affect the final
flavour of the chocolate.
Light Crushing separates the kernel or 'Nib' from the shell or husk (like shelling a nut), the husk is then separated or
'winnowed' out and discarded.
At this stage most
manufacturers put the Cocoa Nibs through an alkalisation process to help develop flavour and colour.
However, some purists producing the finest chocolate prefer to rely on the quality of the beans and
natural processing to produce the best colour and flavour.
The nibs, which are very
high in fat or cocoa butter, are then finely milled and liquefy in the heat produced by the milling
process to produce cocoa liquor. When cocoa liquor, otherwise known as cocoa mass, is allowed to
cool and solidify.
At this point the
manufacturing process splits according to the final product. If the end product is chocolate, some
of the cocoa liquor is reserved, the rest is pressed to extract the cocoa butter leaving a solid
residue called press cake. Press cake is usually kibbled or finely ground to produce the product
known to consumers as Cocoa Powder.
The retained Cocoa Liquor
and/or solid Cocoa Mass is blended with Chocolate Butter and other ingredients to produce the
various types of chocolate as follows:
Cocoa Liquor or Cocoa Mass is blended back with cocoa butter in varying quantities to make
different types of chocolate. The finest plain or dark chocolate should contain 70% Cocoa or more, whereas the best Milk Chocolate contains 30% or more
Cocoa and the best White Chocolate contains 30% or more Cocoa
Butter. In addition most chocolate contains a sweetener, usually sugar, this is because without some
kind of sweetener, chocolate would be so bitter as to be virtually inedible. The other most commonly
added ingredients are natural Vanilla for flavour (artificial Vanilla or 'Vanillin' is often added
to mass produced chocolate because it's cheaper), and Lethicin (usually made from Soya) as an
emulsifier. The basic blends that we use provide a good illustration:
Our Plain Dark Chocolate contains:
Our Milk Chocolate contains:
40% Cocoa Solids (cocoa butter and cocoa mass), 37% sugar, 20% whole milk powder, Lactose,
vegetable Lethicin and Vanilla.
Our White Chocolate contains:
Different manufacturers use different variations of the above formulas.
Inferior and/or mass produced chocolate generally contains much less cocoa solids, (as low
as 7% in some cases), with most or all of the chocolate butter replaced by vegetable oil or other
fat. In fact, the low or virtually non-existent cocoa content of these "Brand Name" and
other chocolate products means that strictly
speaking, they should not really be classed as
chocolate at all, as they are really chocolate flavoured sweets.
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REFINING AND CONCHING
The blended Chocolate then
goes through a refining process involving heavy rollers, this grinds down and blends the particles
to smooth and improve the texture.
Mostly, but not always,
this is followed by the penultimate process called “conching”, a
conch is a type of container in which the refined and blended chocolate mass is continually kneaded
and further smoothed, the fractional heat produced by this process keeps the chocolate liquid. The length of time given
to the conching process determines the final smoothness and
quality of chocolate. The finest chocolate is conched for a
minimum of a week. After the process is completed the chocolate
is stored in heated tanks at about 46°c (115°f), ready for the final process called Tempering.
Because cocoa butter exhibits a or unstable
(polymorphous) crystal structure, the chocolate must go through a very precise cycle of heating and
cooling to encourage the stable crystal formation needed to produce the desirable properties for
good tasty chocolate. This final process is called Tempering.
This is the method we use, first, we melt the
chocolate at about 46°c (115°f), the chocolate is then cooled to between 29°c (84°f) and 31°c
(88°f) and warmed up again to between 30°c (86°f) and 32°c (90°f), it can then be held 'in
temper' at this temperature for use as required.
The chocolate is now ready for use as coverture, for
coating chocolates, chocolate biscuits and
other coated products, or poured into moulds and cooled for sale as the finished product such as
solid chocolate bars.
But every time it is allowed to harden and is re-melted it will have to be re-tempered again.
Well tempered chocolate has a good shiny gloss, a
snappy or brittle bite and a smooth tender melt on the tongue, coating the palate with long lasting
flavour and generally tasting wonderful.
Note: One of the reasons that mass
producers replace chocolate butter with vegetable oil (or other fat) is that they don't then have to
worry about tempering the resulting concoction. An added bonus (as far as they are concerned) is
that vegetable oil is much cheaper than chocolate butter, but it's addition results in a vastly
inferior product that is most definitely not real chocolate.
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The average cocoa solids content of these mass
produced products is generally less than 20% by volume. The principle ingredients of commercial mass
produced chocolate are not cocoa solids, but sugar, powdered milk and sundry artificial and other
additives, in addition chocolate butter is substituted with saturated fats and vegetable fats,
(usually hydrogenated vegetable oil or HVO). These are the dietary villains responsible for
chocolate's undeserved reputation as being fattening, tooth-decaying and generally unhealthy.
But all's not doom and gloom, we are becoming
more discerning in our tastes, with demand for high quality, high cocoa content dark chocolate products increasing
year on year. Real chocolate, containing at least 70% cocoa solids for plain chocolate and much less
sugar than the typical mass produced "brand name" product, is much healthier by far - see Chocolate
- Health Benefits. for more on this.
It's a well established fact that most people love
chocolate, last year (2001) chocolate lovers in the UK alone, spent over £4 billion ($7.5 billion)
on well over half a million metric tons of chocolate products (including
U.S. Consumers spent more than $10 billion (£4½
billion) and ate 2.8 billion pounds (1.3 billion kilo's) of chocolate alone (not including coated
biscuits etc), representing about half of the world's entire chocolate production (2001).
The average U.S. citizen eats over 12 lbs (5.45kg) of
chocolate products annually, but British and the Swiss top the league, with the Swiss consuming a
staggering 22lbs (11kg) per person per year. Unfortunately the bulk of the money spent by the
average Briton and American is wasted on mass produced low chocolate, high fat, high sugar
On the other hand, the Swiss spend their money far
more wisely on very high quality chocolate, as anyone who has tasted Swiss chocolate will testify,
but you don't have to go to Switzerland to get good Chocolate!
Aphrodite chocolates are made from only the finest
quality, high cocoa chocolate:
and finest natural ingredients with little or no added
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Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates (www.aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk)
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