Friday, 4 February 2011

Chocolate making

This is a fantastic producer of chocolate, It is important to understand that this producer only makes up to 50kg of chocolate at a time, large companies like the ones that produce the little chocolate bars you get in the supermarket-are produced on much larger scale.


The farmers, and cooperatives where the cocoa plantations are, send over batches of their cocoa beans for inspection to prospective buyers.

These beans were not up to the grade, and the chocolate producer did not purchase this cocoa, as the beans were different sizes, colours and quality.

If the beans are good.

If the sample cocoa beans were of a high standard, and a deal went through, the cocoa farmers or cooperatives would then have the cocoa beans ground before being shipped over to the UK. Large companies where the wholesale bars are from are large enough to have the beans ground here in the UK, or neighboring European countries. This supplier has it done at the source.
Once ground, the cocoa is shipped here, and arrives looking like this, large blocks and slabs of gourmet smelling cocoa.

The white block in the picture is cocoa butter, I didn't realize that large companies remove the scent from this, I have only worked with cocoa butter that had been deodorized, this cocoa butter really smells great, it smells just like the 100% cocoa does.

The process

This is a conching machine, a serious piece of machinery where the chocolate becomes the smooth chocolate we know and love.

It's similar to a bain marie, with a jacket of water which is heated and controlled very closely. Inside there is a metal arm which turns and conches the chocolate to grind and refine the cocoa particles till smooth.
In the works beneath the water jacket, the pipes lead to a mass with thousands of tiny ball bearings, which also spin round, the chocolate is constantly moving through them as it cycles from the tub, and back in the other side, always moving, getting smoother and finer.

Cocoa & Sugar

The 100% cocoa blocks are left in the concher, to warm up, the arms inside not switched on, as the cocoa solids are extremely hard and may cause damage, however the 100% cocoa still holds a butter percentage and does soften.

When it is soft enough, the conching arms are set to work, and the water jacket is turned to a higher temperature. The moisture is extracted via a vent from the top, the 100% cocoa is left to conch alone for some time before the sugars is added. The temperature of the jacket is then lowered, as high temperature can caramelise the sugars and spoil the batch, but all the time the hood of the conching machine is closed, the arms are working to make the chocolate smooth.

If you were making dark chocolate, you would now after a lengthy period of conching the dry mix, start to add your cocoa butter-however, if you wanted to make milk chocolate you would now need to add the milk powders.
Milk powders are very sensitive to heat, if over heated they may cause a grainy texture, and alter the flavour drastically.
You can see this for yourself if you heat milk chocolate over bain marie to 50°C, the texture becomes grainy and it won't temper correctly.

From a dry mix, to what we know... nearly

We have up to now taken up to 5 hours to reach this point at least, and slowly the melted cocoa butter is added into the conching machine with the conched cocoa solids, and sugar, (and if making milk chocolate, the milk powders)

Slowly the cocoa butter is added in batches, not all at once, as there are natural emulsifiers at work inside, that may split the batch, so patience is a virtue.

Conching at full pace

The vent is lined again the the conching machine, and the chocolate is left to conch further, all the time the moisture is sucked out through it.

Once most of the moisture is drawn out, the vent is disconnected and salt is added. Salt brings out more of the aroma and flavour in chocolate, in fact every producer adds it to the chocolate when making it.

Finally, all smooth, and conched

All it took was patience, the chocolatier believes that the full flavour of his chocolate comes from his process, it has all taken abut 72 hours to produce 50kg.
The chocolate still needs to be tempered, tempering the chocolate is what makes it look great, makes it firmer in texture and is essential for the chocolate not to bloom and go white.

Tempering machine

Hand tempering

The method I use in my own kitchen

All there is to do now is to make, dip and fill chocolates.

Polished hot chocolate, or shiny spheres

This machine is great, in some very good chocolate shops you can now buy little nuggets of chocolate with sugar inside. The surface is all polished and shinny and sold as Hot chocolate, and its made with this...

The white canister is filled with melted chocolate and positioned in front of the tumbler. Brown sugar is placed inside the tumbler, and is turned on...

The tumbler turns like a cement machine, and sprays the melted chocolate in a fine mist over the sugar. Slowly, this sets over each grain of sugar, the volume grows... and because of the friction, the chocolate polishes itself and becomes glossy.

I must admit that the hot chocolate made with these pearls are fantastic, and the method is just plain brilliant.

I hope that you liked reading this.

You can find chocolate products on my website, and other products that you may be interested in

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About Me

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The Pastry king was started in 2009 when I wanted to showcase my skills, & a personal résumé portfolio. The credit crunch really resulted in founding a business, The Pastry King, the name became about, because of circumstances during the time. It was when deciding on this very blogging handle; did I think of one particular pastry chef, the person I most admired & wanted to learn from. To me, he is a Pastry King – so it was from there it came really. The Pastry King grew, people showed they wanted a bespoke service even in a credit crunch. The early days I made chocolates, & cakes. I involved myself in consultancy roles and training jobs. I helped businesses developed recipes and so much more. At one time I was developing my range of chocolate spreads, & award winning truffle selection, packaged to be shelf ready for retailers to sell from their store shelves. Several years back I decided to close up shop, really due to a job vacancy I took post of. One, which I could not & therefore did not refuse. Over the past few years, I have really enjoyed to still be doing what I love doing, & since become a father to one lovely little boy. I consider myself to be very lucky.