If you love chocolate, you may have wondered how this delicious product comes to be. Most chocolate connoisseurs are familiar with the process of chocolate making and the level of difficulty this process involves. Have you wondered how your favourite chocolate bar is created? Here is how chocolate is made using a meticulous and complicated process taking it from “Bean to Bar”!
How Chocolate goes from Bean to Bar
- Harvesting: The process of making a chocolate bar begins by harvesting the fruit from a Cacao tree. The fruit contains seeds which contain the Cacao beans on the inside. Obtaining the Cacao beans from the seeds requires another process which is known as fermentation.
- Fermentation: The seeds from the Cacao tree fruit are covered in a white substance. They are allowed to ferment on their own by storing them in boxes, allowing the hot climate to do the rest of the work. The process of fermentation may take at least a week or more. Fermentation allows the sticky white substance around the Cacao beans to dissipate, leaving only the beans behind.
- Drying: The third step of the process of converting the Cacao beans into a chocolate bar involves drying the leftover beans post-fermentation. The process of drying is carried out naturally by spreading the Cacao beans under the sun. In regions wherein the weather does not allow the Cacao beans to dry out naturally, they are gently dried next to open fires.
- Roasting: Once the Cacao beans are dried, they usually leave the farms and are transported to the workshops where chocolatiers can start making chocolate bars from them. The next step of this process involves roasting the Cacao beans. Like all steps in the process of making chocolate from bean to bar, depends on the quality of the ingredients. Expert chocolatiers closely monitor the roasting of Cacao beans by controlling the temperature, and time to get the perfect and most consistent results each time. In order to prepare luxury chocolate bars, chocolatiers often meticulously control each detail.
- Removing the shell: After the Cacao beans are roasted perfectly, it is time to crack the shell and remove the Cacao nibs on the inside. It is the nib that is used to make chocolate that they turn into those delicious chocolate bars we all love. Most chocolatiers now use machines that are capable of cracking and removing the broken shell of the roasted Cacao beans at once. Earlier, this part of the chocolate-making process would be carried out by hand. Some chocolate makers might still prefer this method today. However, there is no discernible difference in the end result.
- Grinding: The process of grinding the Cacao nibs is done with equipment built especially for chocolate making. Once the nibs are ground, they undergo a process known as ‘Conching’ which helps achieve a silky and even texture, and taste. Conching is an extensive process that can take a considerable amount of time depending on the result desired. It helps the moisture from the chocolate evaporate and facilitates the distribution of cocoa butter more evenly. It is a necessary part of the modern chocolate-making process.
During the process of Conching, chocolatiers may also add other ingredients depending on the type of chocolate they are preparing. For example, milk solids and sugar would be added to prepare of Milk Chocolate. Most of the chocolate bars consumed throughout the world is Milk Chocolate. Dark Chocolate typically does not contain milk solids, but may or may not contain sugar.
- Tempering the chocolate: This part of the chocolate-making process is complicated but vital to turn it into a chocolate bar. Tempering involves heating and cooling the liquid chocolate until the right texture is achieved. This process is important in order to avoid a crumbly and brittle chocolate bar that melts too quickly. Luxury chocolate and all other types of chocolate are put through the process of Tempering.
- Moulding: After the chocolate has been tempered, it is ready to be moulded into a chocolate bar. Luxury chocolates are usually moulded into unique shapes by hand, while mass-produced commercial chocolate bars are moulded with the help of machinery. If you wish to dabble in chocolate-making at home, you can try your own special moulds to achieve whimsical results. After the process of moulding is completed and the chocolate bars or truffles have solidified, they are either stored carefully or wrapped for sale.
This concludes the process of chocolate making, and it is how chocolate goes from Bean to Bar.