Our first attempt at making chocolate at home was educational but our second was more measured, literally. In fact, we photo-documented the process to share with friends and now with our readers as well. We’ve learned a few things since this attempt, so I’ve added any more recent notes in red below.
Trial 2, April 6, 2014 (yep, that’s how seriously we documented this round)
- 115 grams of cocoa beans
- 40 grams of powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (We later learned that confectioner’s sugar has corn starch in it. Richard’s brilliant scientific background came into use when he explained that corn starch is an anti-coagulant. In other words, it prevents substances from liquifying. That’s a particularly important feature to consider when attempting to create chocolate liquor from just cocoa beans and sugar. Bottom line – use regular cane sugar and blend it first, so it’s finer.)
- Toaster oven
- Sandwich-sized ziplock bag (We realized that with small batches, it’s easy enough, and more effective, to winnow beans by hand, so there’s no need for the sandwich bag, rolling pin, hair dryer, mesh strainer, or safety glasses.)
- Rolling pin
- Hair dryer
- Bowl or mesh strainer
- Safety glasses
- Coffee/spice grinder (We’ve experimented with a variety of coffee grinders. Our current favorite is the KitchenAid BCG111OB Blade Coffee Grinder – Onyx Black, in red – not shown here. It’s easiest to clean and has enough power to both heat and grind quickly without overheating or missing large portions of the mixture.)
- Molcajete or mortar & pestle
- Marble slab
- Paint scrapers
Step One: Roast
- Pre-heat oven to 400 (We’ve since tried variations on these temperatures and durations. See future posts for more details)
- Measure out 115 grams of cocoa beans
- Spread out in roasting pan
- Roast for 5 minutes
- Reduce heat to 250 and roast for additional 10 minutes
- Let beans cool for 5-10 minutes
Step Two: Separate husks from nibs
- Fill plastic bag with cooled beans (As I mentioned, it’s easier to do this by hand. Let the beans cool, then pull out two bowls. Crack the husks and place the the nibs into one bowl and the husks into the other. This can take some time, so turn on some good music as you do this!)
- Crust all beans with rolling pin
- Bring hair dryer, safety goggles, and beans inside of bowl/strainer outside
- Blow hair dryer on low & cool into the bowl to separate nibs from husks
- There should be about 90 grams remaining
Step Three: Blend chocolate
- Measure out 40 grams of powdered sugar
- Pour into coffee grinder with nibs of chocolate. This may have to be done small portions at a time, depending on the size of your coffee grinder.
- Blend the chocolate, scraping the sides occasionally with your spatula. The consistency will go from coarse coffee grounds to a mud substance to wet clay.
- Continue until it no longer looks “rough”
- Add cocoa butter if desired at 10-15% of total chocolate weight
Step Four: Conch chocolate
- Preheat oven to 200.
- Pour chocolate into molcajete
- Place molcajete with chocolate in oven for 20 minutes
- Remove molcajete and grind it until your arm is tired (This eliminates most of the bitterness from the beans and accentuates the delicious flavor of the chocolate. Professional conching processes last for days, but we’ll settle for less for now.)
Step Five: Temper chocolate
- Pour chocolate on marble slab
- Fold it on top of itself with paint scraper until it thickens (We bought two from Home Depot for quite cheap!)
- Check it by placing a small amount on the end of a knife. Run your finger through it. If your finger leaves a clear spot in the middle, then it’s tempered correctly.
- If there are white streaks in the chocolate, you can retemper by heating the chocolate to at least 122 degrees and retempering it
Step Six: Eat
- Let it sit 10-15 minutes in molds.