Cocoa Bean Method (Advanced)

  • Cocoa beans (1 lb or ~.5 kg is a good amount to start with)
    • You can also buy cocoa nibs and skip Steps 1 and 2
  • Cocoa butter
  • Nonfat milk powder
  • Sugar
  • Lecithin
  • 1 vanilla pod (optional)

Proportions are flexible. See Step 5 for more information.

Cocoa Powder Method (Beginner)

  • 2 cups (220g) cocoa powder strategy
  • 3/4 cup (170g) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150ml) milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (235ml) water

EditSteps

Cocoa Bean Method

  1. 1
    Roast the cocoa beans. Roasting the beans will improve the flavor of the chocolate, in addition to sterilizing them and making cracking easier. Here's what you need to know:

     
     
     
     
    • Lay the beans in a single layer across a baking sheet. Start off with an 18-minute roast in a preheated oven at 120ºC (250ºF). They'll be ready when they start to crack and when they actually taste like chocolate (but let them cool before tasting!).
       
    • In general, expose the beans to an initial high temperature then to a lower the temperature gradually. Stop roasting when the beans start to crack (but not burn). You can accomplish this in your oven or by using a store-bought roaster. The temperature and duration will depend on how many beans you're roasting, but try 5 to 35 minutes at temperatures between 120 and 160ºC (250-325ºF).
       
    • For roasting larger quantities of cocoa beans, you may want to invest in a drum, which is rotated over a gas grill.
       
    • See the Tips and Warnings below about roasting.
       
     
  2. 2
    Crack the beans. After roasting, the beans must be cracked into nibs and winnowed, during which the husks (chaff) are removed.

     
     
     
     
    • For small batches, crack the beans with a hammer and remove the husks (which should be loose after proper roasting) by hand.
       
    • For larger batches, use a coarse, Corona-type mill or purchase a specialized mill [1]to crack the beans into nibs. (In case you were wondering, a meat grinder doesn't work.)
       
     
  3. 3
    Winnow the nibs. Once you've cracked the beans, get rid of the leftover husks. Stir the beans gently with your hands or a spoon as you blow on them with a hair dryer or small shop vac until the husks are gone.

     
     
     
     
     
  4. 4
    Grind the nibs into cocoa liquor. You will need equipment strong enough to liquefy the nibs and separate the remaining husks. General food processors, Vita-Mix, coffee grinders (burr and blade), meat grinders (manual and electric) mortar and pestles, and most juicers will not work. You may need to experiment to find equipment that gets the job done.

     
     
     
     
    • Many home chocolatiers find success with a "Champion Juicer"[2]. Feed the nibs into the grinder/juicer one handful at a time, being sure to push them in gently (not forcefully) or else the motor may overheat. Cocoa liquor will come through the screen and a mixture of husks and liqueur will find its way through the spout. Feed this mixture through the juicer again until only the husks come through the spout.
       
     
  5. 5
    Measure out the other ingredients you'll need. Weigh the cocoa liquor in grams using a kitchen scale. You will use this measurement to determine how much of the other ingredients you will add. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can eyeball the proportions, which should be as follows:[3]
    • Cocoa butter: up to 20 percent as much as there is cocoa liquor
       
    • Sugar: anywhere from 15-20% (bittersweet) to 75-80% (very sweet milk chocolate) as much as there is cocoa liquor
       
    • Nonfat milk powder: the same amount as the cocoa liquor, or slightly less.
       
    • Vanilla (optional): Split the pod and soak it in the cocoa butter for an hour.
       
     
  6. 6
    Conch and refine the chocolate. By definition, conching affects the characteristic taste, smell and texture of the chocolate, while refining reduces the size of the cocoa solids and sugar crystals. Both processes can be applied at the same time with a powerful wet grinder (success has been reported with a Spectra 10 melanger, also called the "Stone Chocolate Melanger"[4]). How you conch and refine the chocolate will depend on what equipment you use, but here are guidelines for the Spectra 10 melanger:

     
     
     
     
    • Melt the chocolate and the cocoa butter in the oven to about 50ºC (120ºF).
       
    • Combine with non-fat dry milk powder, sugar, and lecithin.
       
    • Pour the chocolate mixture in the grinder, periodically pointing a hair dryer at it for 2-3 minutes to keep the chocolate melted during the first hour (until the friction created by grinding keeps the chocolate liquid without additional heat being needed).
       
    • Continue refining for at least 10 hours and no more than 36 hours, until the chocolate tastes smooth and balanced, but be sure not to over-refine (or it will get gummy).
      • To take a break from refining (for example, at night while you're sleeping, see Warnings), turn off the grinder, put the covered bowl into an oven that's preheated to 65ºC (150ºF) but turned off, and leave it there overnight. It shouldn't solidify but if it does, take the cover off and turn the oven on to about 65 to 80ºC (150-175ºF) until the chocolate melts. (Be careful not to let the bowl itself melt, though.)
         
       
     
  7. 7
    Temper the chocolate. This is likely the most difficult part of the process, but it ensures that the chocolate will be shiny and have a "snap" to it, rather than being matte and soft enough to melt in your hands. However, the great thing about tempering is you can redo it as many times as you need to (to get it right) and the chocolate won't be ruined. The most important thing is that you do not let any moisture in the chocolate, or it will be ruined.
    • Melt the chocolate carefully. You can accomplish this in the oven if you are using larger quantities of chocolate, or you can use a double broiler on the stove. It's your choice, just make sure that the chocolate does not burn (keep stirring). Always melt more than 1.5 pounds (680g) of chocolate, as any less and tempering could prove difficult.

       
       
       
       
       
    • When the chocolate is melted to a temperature of around 45 to 50ºC (110 to 120ºF), transfer it to a dry, cool bowl and stir until the chocolate temperature drops to about 38ºC (100ºF). Use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature. The chocolate in the bowl should remain at the same temperature while you work with chocolate outside of the bowl.
       
    • Pour about one third of the contents out of the bowl onto a hard, non-porous counter top or other surface (granite or marble works best). Spread the chocolate out with the spatula, and then bring it all back together.

       
       
       
       
       
    • Continue doing this until the chocolate is about 30ºC (85ºF), which should take about 10-15 minutes. By the time the chocolate cools down to that point, the chocolate should be a thick, gooey mass.
       
    • Add some of the 38-degree Celsius (100-degree Fahrenheit) chocolate from the bowl to get the chocolate workable again. Gently work the chocolate around.

       
       
       
       
       
    • Return the chocolate back into the bowl with the 38-degree Celsius (100-degree Fahrenheit) chocolate. Stir it gently, and try not to create bubbles.

       
       
       
       
       
    • Check the chocolate's temperature. You want it around 32ºC (90ºF), but never over 33ºC (92ºF). Anything higher than this and you may need to temper the chocolate again.
       
    • Alternatively, you can purchase a tempering machine on the Internet for $300-400 USD.

       
       
       
       
       
     
  8. 8
    Mold the chocolate while it is still at about 32ºC (90ºF). Pour the chocolate into the molds, being careful not to spill.

     
     
     
     
    • Some people find it effective to use a large syringe to place chocolate in the mold, but you may find it easy enough to just pour with a steady hand.
       
    • When all of the chocolate has been added to the molds, you may either freeze, refrigerate, or let the chocolates harden at room temperature. There's no right way to do it; choose whatever method works best for you. However, you might be influenced by room temperature if you live in a warmer climate, in which case finding a cooler spot for hardening the chocolate will be essential.
       
     
  9. 9
    Remove the chocolate from the molds after it has hardened. The molded chocolate should have a glossy appearance and should snap cleanly in two.

     
     
     

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