Having a bite of that smooth chocolate bar can never be possible without the modern chocolate-making process, and machines help make it all happen. The aspiring chocolatier requires a good deal of knowledge about how to process chocolate from the bean into the finished product, and knowing the tools of the trade plays a big part.
Fermented and dried cacao beans need to undergo roasting. A chocolatier can use a kitchen oven, a steel drum for roasting and a gas grill, a coffee roaster or a hot-air gun. For large-scale roasting, specific batch roasters and continuous roasting systems provide more efficient production.
Cracking and Winnowing Machinery
The second process, cracking and winnowing, is handled by a specific winnowing machine or a de-hulling unit that separates the cocoa nibs from the shells. Homemade chocolate enthusiasts can use devices such as a hand-cranked cocoa-bean cracking apparatus and any old hair dryer to blow away the shells and get cocoa nibs.
Grinding and Mixing Equipment
Large-scale chocolate production requires cocoa-nib grinders to produce chocolate liquor. Homemade chocolate makers can use alternative equipment, such as small cocoa mills or a powerful juicer to extract the liquor. Some of the liquor can be pressed to extract cocoa butter and make cocoa presscake, which is pulverised to make cocoa powder. Cocoa butter and liquor are then mixed to form basic components of fine chocolate, which can be done using mixing bowls and a hand-held dough mixer. Large-scale production demands specific cocoa mixers.
Conching and Refining Machines
Conching and refining makes the chocolate smoother and defines its flavour. A machine called a melangeur, or wet grinder, kneads the chocolate in order to turn solids into finer particles. This is the point where sugar and other ingredients and flavourings, such as dry milk powder, lecithin and vanilla, are added to the mix.
The final process of making chocolate prior to moulding is tempering. This gives chocolate a smooth, shiny finish and an even colour without any fat bloom through cycles of heating, cooling and reheating. For this purpose, there are specific chocolate melter and tempering machines.
- International Cocoa Organization: Processing Cocoa
- Chocolate Alchemy: Home Roasting Cocoa Beans
- Chocolate Alchemy: Cracking and Winnowing the Beans
- Chocolate Alchemy: Grinding, Mixing and Chocolate
- Chocolate Alchemy: Conching and Refining Chocolate at Home
- Chocolate Alchemy: Tempering Chocolate at Home