cocoa beans

Chocolate is a food that, until a year ago, had always eluded me in my kitchen escapades. My aunt was a candy maker so I grew up learning that it was important to use high-quality chocolate and that if it wasn’t melted correctly it wouldn’t temper. I knew that chocolate and water really don’t mix and that cheap chocolate had fillers like wax. But, the art of making chocolate was absent from my knowledge base.

Several years ago I was making chocolate frosting for a cake and my boys had a friend over. He looked at the frosting and said, “That’s cool. My mom doesn’t make chocolate!” It was at that moment that I determined I was going to learn how chocolate was made. And, in the business of life, I put that thought on the shelf for another day.

That day came almost two years ago. I found a local class that taught about the history of chocolate and benefits of eating real chocolate and gave it to Scott for Christmas. It took us almost six months to redeem his present but we got to the class to find that we were two of only four people. For the next two hours, we sampled chocolates from some world class chocolate makers and discussed the history of chocolate and beans and the basic method of refining them. We were fascinated and the seed that was planted years earlier started to grow.

grinding cocoa

Over the next few months, Scott would watch every youtube video and read every blog post he could find on chocolate making. He gleaned a lot of information in the hours he spent researching and we bought our first sampler pack of beans to start experimenting.

Our first batch we pan roasted our beans, then we removed the husk and started hand grinding them with a mortar and pestle. Our children each took turns grinding and after about an hour we had a course concoction that somewhat resembled melted chocolate. With limited tools and knowledge, and no experience, we did the best we could to temper it and poured it on wax paper to cool. The results were a mixed bag. It didn’t temper very well but it did have a pleasant chocolate flavor and we determined that we were successful enough to invest in a melanger and give chocolate making a real go.

Over the next several posts I will give you a concise overview of making bean to bar chocolate in your home and then I will break each step down in order to give you a more in-depth look at the process. Please make sure to leave a comment if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them.