I just want to clarify that at this moment, we only make chocolate tablets and tasting bars from the bean. The chocolate we use for our truffles, bonbons, custom chocolate bars and bagged items are all made with either Valrhona, Belcolade and various other couvertures. We are working toward creating all of the chocolate we sell in our shop from the bean but that will take time. With that being said…
CRAFT CHOCOLATE IS NOW HERE IN DALLAS, TEXAS
What is craft chocolate. To be simple, it is creating chocolate from the cacao (or cocoa) beans that grow on trees in a certain region of the world. All cacao beans are grown within 20 degrees of the earth’s Equator.
They are harvested from pods.
Fermented for up to seven days
and then dried.
The beans are then shipped to us and we sort them to make sure we use the best of the shipment and that there are no foreign objects that make it into our process.
We then roast the beans at very low temperatures (anywhere between 225 degrees to 350 degrees).
These temperatures are dependent upon the bean being roasted and their flavor profile.
After a cooling period, we crack and winnow the beans in order to separate them from their outer shell or husk.
Once the beans are winnowed, they break down into nibs. We grind these nibs into cocoa liquor.
Interestingly, there is no alcohol in cocoa liquor.
Due to cost, we refine and conch the nibs during the same process. This can take up to 72 hours depending upon the flavor development we are looking for. Refining is basically crushing the bean down to a certain particle size…usually around 20-30 microns. Essentially, the mouth feel you should get, at this point, is very smooth. And, although you may taste the sugar in it, you won’t feel the grittiness of it. Conching is a process, with the help of a low level of heat, which helps to develop taste, smell and texture (to put it simply).
Once the refining/conching process is done, we let the untempered chocolate cool and harden. It is then stored for a few weeks to keep developing flavor. Some chocolate makers will skip this process but at this point; “to each his own”. I like what storing chocolate in this form does.
(Picture coming soon)
Tempering the chocolate comes next. Now, unlike tempering the couverture that we use for making our truffles and bon bons, tempering first batches of new origins of craft chocolate requires the classic style of tempering called tabling. This is both the simplest way to temper but also the most complex. Simple in the fact that all one needs is a scraper, an offset spatula and a marble slab. Most complex in that it requires an intimate knowledge of chocolate temperature and crystallization. The reason you can ONLY use this method for tempering bean to bar chocolate is that you need certain “good” crystals to form in the chocolate. If you do this by the “seeding” method, then you are introducing foreign chocolate (already tempered chocolate) into your batch which would basically contaminate the batch, thus changing it from a “Single Origin” chocolate to a “blended” chocolate.
(Picture coming soon)
The final process is to put the tempered chocolate into molds to create the finished product.