How to make chocolates teaches you the basic steps that cacao beans will have to go through before they are turned into artisan chocolates.
These steps are very important to follow to remove some of cacao bean's anti-nutrients and to make great tasting chocolate bars.
And you can actually learn do every step from bean-to-bar yourself!
Real artisan chocolates are bean-to-bar chocolates and they are made by chocolatiers that put care and effort into creating a great chocolate bar.
Bean-to-bar chocolates have unique flavors because they're not made from big blocks of melted chocolate.
And these hand made chocolates can replace those unhealthy chocolate bars you've
been buying at the grocery stores.
Why Should You Learn How to Make Chocolates?
When you learn how to make chocolates in your own kitchen, you can make healthy chocolates that'll contain a higher antioxidant level.
Plus you can control the amount of sugar, add in nuts, dried fruit, medicinal mushrooms, your favorite spices, or whatever suits your fancy.
Most of the commercial chocolates you buy from the grocery stores come with toxic ingredients like GMO soy lecithin, factory farmed milk products, artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, and GMO sweeteners.
In fact, it's even hard to find a decent chocolate bar that doesn't include soy lecithin (used as an emulsifier) as an ingredient.
These are unhealthy ingredients that you can exclude from your bean to bar chocolates. And you can choose to include all organic ingredients.
How to Make Chocolates - from Cacao Beans to Bars
When a cacao pod is harvested and cut open, the cacao beans are removed from the pod and quickly put into a fermentation vessel.
Fermentation is the first step to turning cacao beans into chocolate which is a very essential step that helps to develop the
flavor of the cacao bean and helps to remove anti-nutrients like phytic acid.
The sweet white pulp that surrounds the cacao beans plays an important role in the fermentation process because it provides the sugar that yeast and bacteria feed on.
Traditionally, cacao beans are fermented covered in banana leaves. And the ideal temperature for the proper fermentation of cacao beans may be in the range of 113 to 122 degrees F.
Cacao beans are usually fermented for about 5 to 7 days and will have a change in color at the end of the fermentation process.
The next step involves drying the fermented cacao beans to remove moisture from the beans and to further develop their flavor.
And it's best to slowly dry the beans to ensure better quality chocolates.
Smaller-scale producers will sun dry the cacao beans for about 1 to 2 weeks (depending on the weather) which is how to make chocolates the traditional way.
Larger scale production of cacao beans employs more artificial means of
drying beans that may sometimes ruin the quality of the beans.
Turning the cacao beans a few times daily will help to remove any of the remaining pulp and dries the cacao beans evenly.
After the cacao beans are dried, they can be graded, packaged, and shipped to chocolate makers around the world.
When you have a supply of fermented and dried cacao beans, you can begin the process of making bean-to-bar chocolates.
The next step is roasting the cacao beans which enhances the flavor of the beans. BTW, chocolatiers that are into making "raw" chocolates will skip this step.
In general, oven roast your cacao beans for at least 15 to 30 minutes at 250 degrees F. to bring out the chocolate flavor of your beans.
Roasting also helps to separate the outer husk from the inner bean which helps with the removal of the cacao bean shells.
And roasting the cacao beans helps to remove phytic acid that may be left over and is how to make chocolates with lower amounts of this anti-nutrient.
When the beans have cooled, either peel away the shells or put them in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin to speed up the process.
Then winnow them with a blow dryer to separate the nibs from the shells - preferably outside! Be sure to discard any bug infested or bad nibs.
Next, the shelled cacao nibs are milled or finely ground which turns the nibs into a chocolate paste that eventually turns into a chocolate liquor.
Usually, the chocolate liquor is "conched" to drive off any acidic flavor compounds. Most people use an electric stone
grinder for this lengthy process.
Finely ground sugar and additional melted cacao butter is usually added at this point in the chocolate making process.
Conching the cacao liquor can last from several hours to several days. This step helps to create a smooth and better tasting chocolate. And it helps to remove any grainy textures.
How to Make Chocolates - Tempering Homemade Dark Chocolate
The first step in tempering is heating the chocolate up to 115 degrees F. to melt all 6 types of crystals preferably using a Bain Marie or double boiler.
The second step in tempering dark chocolate is to cool it back down to about 81 degrees F. for a few minutes.
This promotes the rapid formation of type V beta crystals (which melts at 94 degrees F.) and type IV crystals (which melts at 82 degrees F.).
The chocolate is also agitated at this stage to create many small crystal seeds.
When type V beta crystals and type IV crystals have formed you'll need to raise the chocolate temperature back up to about 88 degrees F.
This will cause the type IV crystals to melt and leave you with the type V beta crystals in your chocolate.
After this point, any excessive heating of the chocolate will destroy the temper and you'll have to repeat the whole process.
Tempering takes your chocolate through a temperature change that helps develop the beta crystals which is basically melting, cooling, and re-heating.
Tempering helps to give chocolate more shine and structure which is helpful when making chocolates.
Tempering will also give chocolates a longer shelf life and helps to prevent them from melting.
And there are a few ways to temper chocolate to re-establish the right cacao butter crystals into your chocolate.
Different Ways to Temper Your Chocolate
Tempering is an optional step when making your healthy chocolates and can be skipped. Although, it's recommended if you want to end up with a more stable chocolate bar.
If your a novice, you may want to start with the seeding method which is less complicated than tabling.
Tabling Method: You would pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a dry marble slab and spread it back and forth with a metal spatula until it begins to thicken.
After the chocolate begins to take on a paste-like consistency, you would add it back to the remaining melted chocolate to cool it while stirring constantly.
The dark chocolate will be brought to temper when it reaches 86 to 90 degrees F.
Seeding Method: With this method you'll need high quality tempered dark chocolate to seed the melted dark chocolate which is a shortcut.
When the chocolate reaches 115 degrees F., (you can remove from the heat source if possible) and add in pieces of tempered chocolate to cool melted dark chocolate.
Be sure to stir constantly to melt the seed chocolate. Seed chocolate will make up about 20% of the total chocolate in the bowl.
Stir until the dark chocolate cools to 88 to 90 degrees F. which usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. The chocolate should now be in temper.
Test the Temper: Dip a metal utensil into the tempered chocolate. If the chocolate sets within 5 minutes at normal room temperature and has a satiny shiny appearance, your chocolate is properly tempered.
Tempering is how you'll end up with professional looking chocolate bars that have a crisp snap.
Pour your tempered chocolate into attractive molds and release any air bubbles that are trapped in the chocolate by tapping on the counter.
The chocolate will harden sometimes in the refrigerator for a brief period and is then removed from the molds before wrapping or consuming.
How to Make Chocolates - Some Shortcut Methods
If you want to learn how to make chocolates in a more rustic way and don't have the time or patience - you can take some chocolate shortcuts.
You can buy organic roasted and shelled chocolate nibs from most health food stores which is a how to make chocolates quickly.
You could put the chocolate nibs into a spice blender or other blender of your choice to break up the chocolate nibs into a cacao powder.
You can also add in finely ground sugar at this point which is how to make chocolate sweeter or skip the sugar for a really dark chocolate.
The cacao powder will turn into a thick cacao paste. And it's best to add in a little melted cacao butter or coconut oil to help create a smoother and more liquid like texture.
If you have the strength and patience, you could also use a stone mortar and
pestle to grind or "conch" your cacao nibs to make your chocolate.
And the longer you stone grind your chocolate, the better your chocolate will taste. Or you can keep on blending the cacao paste in the blender until the right consistency forms.
At this point, you can pour the chocolate into a mold and stick it in the refrigerator to harden to make a quick chocolate bar for you to eat.
Be aware you may have to store any uneaten chocolate in the fridge to prevent it from melting if you decided to skip the tempering process.
How to Make Chocolate Specialties
You can use your homemade chocolate right away in a recipe or later on in its hardened form by melting your chocolate to make tasty chocolate desserts.
You can make homemade chocolate specialties like a flourless chocolate cake or use it to make a decadent smoothie.