2nd March 2021
We are at the very beginning of our chocolate making journey and I'm sure we'll learn a lot along the way, but for now, this is our process.
We sort the beans by hand, rejecting any that look odd, broken, cracked or damaged.
We're roasting in our home oven with the beans on a single layer on a baking tray.
Removing the shells from the roasted beans is something we're currently doing by hand as we don't have access to or space for any machinery. Because all our beans are hand peeled, we're sure there's no shell getting into our chocolate.
The roasted, shelled beans, known as nibs, are chopped in our food processor into smaller pieces resembling coffee grounds. We add melted cocoa butter to the grinder, followed by the chopped nibs. The sugar is added later, when we're happy with the flavour of the molten chocolate. The grinding process takes roughly 24 hours.
Our chocolate is tempered by hand in a large bowl, which is heated over a pan of hot water to melt any crystals in the chocolate, then agitated as it cools. When it reaches the right temperature, it's warmed up slightly before being piped into moulds. This process ensures that the cocoa butter within the chocolate sets into a smooth, stable structure. Without tempering, the cocoa butter separates, creating swirly, splodgy patterns in the chocolate, giving it a waxy, uneven texture. Untempered chocolate also melts more easily, making it very messy to eat. Tempering ensures that chocolate is solid at room temperate, snaps when you break a piece off, and doesn't melt all over your fingers.
The tempered chocolate is piped into moulds, vibrated to help it spread into all the corners of the mould and to release air bubbles, then left to set in the fridge. As soon as it's set, it's removed from the fridge, wrapped and stored at room temperature, unless we eat it of course!