How to make chocolate: From cacao beans to chocolate
Cocoa beans are kept in original sacks in silos or warehouses. Imported cocoa beans undergo strict quality control. Lab technicians make sure that the beans are safe and healthy. Silos measuring 40-120 feet high can hold up to 1000 tons. The silos are fed raw cocoa by vacuums that can pull it up.
The storage area should be isolated from the rest to protect sensitive beans from strong odours. It is important to have good air circulation, cool temperatures, and humidity regularly monitored. To control the flavour of beans that are being roasted, you must identify their origin and type.
Step 1: Cleaning
The cocoa beans are first processed in a machine to remove dried cocoa pulp and other materials. The beans are carefully weighed before being blended to meet the specifications. The last traces of wood, jute fibres and sand are removed by powerful vacuum equipment. The cocoa bean shells are separated and sent to the chemical industry, which extracts valuable compounds.
Step 2: Roasting
The beans are roasted in large rotating cylinders to bring out their distinctive chocolate aroma. The roasting time depends on the type of beans, and the result desired. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, at 250 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The beans will turn over and lose their moisture. As they roast, the colour of the beans turns to a rich, dark brown. This is when the chocolate aroma begins to emerge. While all steps are important for good flavour, proper roasting is the key to great taste. Fun Fact: Cocoa Butter can be stored for many years without deterioration
Step 3: Shell Removal
After cooling the cocoa beans, their thin shells are removed. The beans are passed between serrated cones by a giant winnowing machine. A series of mechanical sieves break down the pieces into small and large grains while fans remove the thin, light shell. This is where the chocolate manufacturer’s first secrets are revealed. The chocolate manufacturer mixes the nibs, mixing up to 8-10 different varieties. These subtle combinations ensure consistency in quality and bring out the flavours of each variety of chocolate.
Step 4: The nibs are grounded
The cocoa butter in the nibs is about 53 per cent. They are then processed between large grinding stones and heavy steel discs to create a cocoa paste. After being subjected to hydraulic pressure, the cocoa butter flows out. It is a valuable and pure fat that has a distinct aroma. Cocoa butter serves many important functions. Cocoa butter is an integral part of every recipe. It also gives chocolate its beautiful structure, lustre, and delicate, appealing glaze. The heat from grinding causes the cocoa butter and fat to melt, forming a fine paste known as “chocolate liquor”. The resulting chocolate cakes can be made unsweetened or bitter by pouring the liquid into moulds.
Fun Fact – Liquid Chocolate can easily be made into blocks of hundredweight for storage
Step 5: Cocoa butter is separated from cocoa.
The manufacturing of chocolate and cocoa is almost identical up to this point. Cocoa butter, a by-product of cocoa, is the key component of chocolate. It makes up about 25% of most chocolate bars. The cocoa powder is made by pumping cocoa butter into hydraulic presses that weigh up to 25 tons. The yellow liquid is then collected and drained through metal screens. Cocoa butter is unique among vegetable oils. It melts at 89-93 degrees Fahrenheit, just below the body temperature. Cocoa butter can be stored for many years if kept in good condition.
You can make cocoa powder from the “cake” by crushing, milling and fine sifting. The vertically-mounted steel rollers spin in opposite directions. They pulverize tiny pieces of sugar and cocoa under heavy pressure to a size of approximately. 30 microns. One micron is one-thousandth of a millimetre!
Many manufacturers also add flavourings, sugar, and non-fat milk to their products. The final product will have between 10 and 22% cocoa butter. The “Dutch” method involves cocoa being treated with an acid. This gives it a milder flavour and a darker appearance. The alkali is used as a process agent, not a flavouring ingredient.
Fun Fact – Secrets: Blending beans, conching techniques, time intervals, temperatures, and proportions are all secrets
Step 6: Add other ingredients to the Chocolate Liquor
You add milk, sugar, cocoa butter, and other ingredients to bitter chocolate liquor to make milk chocolate. This is where chocolate can be made according to individual recipes. The final taste is determined by blending different types of cocoa pastes with other ingredients. Mix the ingredients in a mixer fitted with rotating, kneading arms. The result will be a paste-like consistency with a pleasant flavour but still gritty.
Step 7: Use conching machines to knead your Chocolate Paste
This process creates new flavours and alters food texture at controlled temperatures. This is the most crucial refining step, as it allows individual flavours to be combined. In the beginning, conches, which were paddles that looked like conch shells, were equipped with heavy rollers. They plough through the chocolate paste for a period ranging from several hours to several days. Modern technology can make the chocolate particles very fine, which reduces conching times. Belgian and Swiss chocolates can be conched for up to 96 hours. Some chocolates can be continued for as little as 4 to 12 hours. These rollers can create different levels of agitation and airflow depending on the temperature and speed at which they are operating. This process can remove any bitterness from the chocolate by aerating it and removing volatile acids. The result is velvet smoothness thanks to cocoa butter, lecithin and other ingredients. A soft cocoa butter film forms around the very small particles as the final homogeneity is achieved. The chocolate is no longer sandy-looking but melts on the tongue. It has achieved the exceptional purity that gives it its name. It is spectacular to see huge paddles moving slowly through large Belgian or Swiss chocolate vats.
Circular conches have a rotary motor and can hold 9 tonnes of chocolate. These conch machines are the most efficient. In some manufacturing settings, an emulsifying process can replace or supplement conching. Emulsifying involves the removal of sugar crystals from the chocolate mixture. This gives it a smooth, silky texture. It works in the same way as an eggbeater.
Fun Fact – Confectionery makers use ten-pound blocks
Step 8: Heat, Cool, and Reheat the Chocolate
This helps thicken the chocolate and gives it the right flow properties to fill the moulds. This complex operation takes place in the tempering plant. It is essential to give final chocolate products a delicate composition, uniform structure, and well-rounded flavours. This also increases the storage life. To cool the still-warm chocolate, place it in a tempering device. The chocolate will not separate when it is chilled at a constant rate. This prevents the flavour from being affected. A high-quality bar of chocolate bars will have a smooth sheen and a crisp snap when broken. This is another sign that the tempering process was done correctly. You can temper the chocolate in various moulds, including individual bars or blocks up to 10 pounds.
Step 9: Temporary Storage of Liquid Chocolate
Conches must be filled with as much chocolate as possible. The moulding machines cannot take large amounts of chocolate paste at once, so conches should always be full. It is possible to store chocolate for short periods or ship it in liquid form to other food manufacturers. It is usually solidified in blocks of 100-weight for longer storage periods. To make them liquefy again, they must be heated. Automation is now a major player in the chocolate industry. Computers can be programmed to coordinate and control the entire process. Each stage of production can be checked electronically.
Fun Fact – There are Cocoa Exchanges located in New York, London and Hamburg