This Chocolatier Shows Us The Full Process Of Making Chocolate

This Chocolatier Shows Us The Full Process Of Making Chocolate

Our mouths are watering…

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Dom is a chocolate maker from London. He owns London based craft chocolate maker ‘Damson Chocolate’ and is passionate about searching the world for the finest cocoa beans to make the most delicious chocolate ever!

For all you chocolate lovers out there, Dom has shared his process of how he creates the perfect bar and let me tell you, it is an art form! Without further ado, notepads at the ready, let’s take a look how it’s done…

First thing to be done is find this flower…

Dom goes on a search for this flower that develops into cocoa pods; “It grows directly from the trunk and large branches of the cocoa tree (Theobroma Cacao), and develops into brightly coloured cocoa pods. This picture was taken in Hawaii, the only place in the US where cocoa can be grown.”

Once grown, the pods look like this…

 The photo above, taken in Grenada, shows how the cocoa pods develop before they’re ready to be picked.

Above, is a selection of different colored pods. Not really the colors you’d expect cocoa beans to look like! The pods also come in various sizes…

So when we open the pods we get the white pulp that surrounds 25 – 40 cocoa beans. It looks like this…

The beans are surrounded by the sweet white pulp…

If we cut open a cocoa bean, it looks like this…

Yes that’s right, most cocoa beans have a purple colour like this! It’s not what we expected it to look like.

Dom says “After harvesting, the pods are cut open and the beans and their pulp removed”

“These are transferred to some kind of container – usually a large wooden crate, and covered in banana leaves. They are then left to ferment for 5-7 days. This fermentation process is crucial to the flavour development of chocolate.”

“It’s the sweet pulp that ferments and as it does so, it turns to liquid and drains away, leaving the beans brown in colour.”

“During the process, beans can exceed temperatures of over 50C (120F), so if you’ve ever eaten a product labelled as ‘raw chocolate’, it’s almost certainly not raw.”

After fermentation, the beans are laid out in the sun to dry for 7-10 days. The beans must be turned regularly to ensure they dry evenly…

Dom tells us “In some parts of the world (such as here in Grenada), the beans are turned by walking through them shuffling the feet in a process known as tramping the beans. Alternatively, if you don’t want foot-turned beans a tool called a rabot can be used!”

Once dried, the beans are packed into burlap sacks to be transported to chocolate makers around the world…

This is how chocolatiers like Dom receive the beans!

Dom says “When we get the beans, the first thing we do is sort them. Every one. By hand!”

“We’re looking for broken beans, twigs, stones and any other debris that may be left over from the fermentation and drying processes. We only want the best beans for our chocolate.”

Next up is the roasting…

“Yes, it’s a converted oven. The beans sit in the drum which rotates while we roast the beans for around 20 minutes. There isn’t a whole lot of professional equipment available for small scale chocolate makers, so we have to improvise!”

“After roasting, the beans pass through this contraption – our breaker and winnower”

“The top part is a juicer which we use to break the cocoa beans. Underneath, the winnower is attached to a vacuum which pulls away the lighter, papery shells that cover each bean. We put roasted cocoa beans in the top and we get cocoa nibs in the bucket!”

Once they come out the winnower, they look like this…

Dom says “We slowly add the nibs to our Cocoatown melanger which consists of large granite wheels (weighing 50kg) rotating on a granite base”

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“As the drum turns, the nibs get crushed. Friction from the process generates heat which melts the cocoa butter in the nibs. About 50% of the weight of a cocoa bean is cocoa butter which melts at around body temperature.”

“At this stage we add cane sugar (30% by weight for a 70% dark chocolate), and any milk powder (milk chocolates) and flavourings we want.”

After two full days it looks like this…

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This is the chocolate that we know and love! It looks delicious!

“The chocolate stays in the melanger for 3 days. All the time the particle size is being reduced, making the chocolate smoother and smoother. But it also develops flavour in a process called conching.”

“The constant movement and heat drive off any bitterness and develop the natural flavour notes in the chocolate. Every origin has a unique and distinctive flavour.”

“After 3 days, it’s time to pour the chocolate out!”

We age the chocolate for several weeks, which helps to develop the flavour further.

Next is tempering the chocolate…

“Chocolate exists in several different crystal forms and tempering makes sure we just get the right form for a nice shiny bar. This is done by raising and lowering the temperature very precisely. Luckily we have a machine that does that and beeps at us when it’s time to mould the bars.”

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“Finally, the chocolate is poured into polycarbonate moulds and we vibrate them to remove any air bubbles, then let them set in the fridge for a couple of hours.”

And voila! The end result is a delicious bar of chocolate!

 

Interesting, right? We had no clue so much went into making the perfect bar! What did you think? Is your sweet tooth ready for some choccy? Comment on our Facebook post to let us know if you love chocolate as much as us!

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