Whether you are a self-professed chocoholic or an occasional taster of the luxurious treat, we can all admit that we all have a sweet spot for homemade chocolate. There are certain things we can safely say we know about chocolate, what our favorite kind is, how much it costs, where we can pop to in order to grab some at any hour if a sugar craving comes on, but there are some things you might not know about it. A chocolate tasting event can be a great way to find out more about it while also enjoying the product as much as possible.
So, the big question is, how can you make chocolate at home?
The art of making chocolate starts with a plant known as the cacao tree (or Theobroma cacao), which grows in hot temperatures and requires plenty of rain and shade. A single cacao tree can have up to 50 pods of seeds or cocoa beans which is the key ingredient in making chocolate.
Harvesting is the next step, and this refers to the process of getting the cacao pods once they have turned a vibrant yellow-orange color, not at all the shade that you might expect given the appearance of the final finished product! These pods, once taken from the plant, can be brought to the next stage in the life cycle of chocolate which is fermentation.
The fermentation process involves the cleaning of the cacao beans before they are covered in banana leaves for two to nine days. This is when the dark brown color that we think of when we imagine chocolate comes out. This process is also when the flavor is brought out the most.
Step 4 is when the beans are carefully dried and laid out on mats under the scorching sun to dry. The cacao beans are raked frequently to ensure they dry properly.
During step 5, the cacao beans are graded and packed into sacks after a careful quality inspection to ensure only the best are used for maximum flavor. After this is done and quality has been assured, they can be sent out internationally.
The cacao beans are then blended with other ingredients to achieve the desired flavor. The beans are roasted at a low temperature which brings out more of a deep flavor.
The cocoa is then mixed in with butter and sweetener to make the final homemade chocolate. The addition of a sweetener is very key here as it ensures that the chocolate won’t taste too bitter, which it does in its purest form. The other ingredient that is added at this stage depends on the desired flavor outcome that the chocolate maker is hoping to achieve. For example, whether the chocolate is going to be dark or light or white milk powder may be added.
Conching is the next process which refers to how the chocolate is then rolled and kneaded as well as heated again to ensure the mixture becomes smooth. After this, the chocolate can be molded into the desired shape, ready for customers to purchase.
See larger image