How is chocolate made?
Chocolate (or cocoa) is produced from the seeds of the cocoa tree. The producers turn it into cocoa paste, a fundamental ingredient for this excellent, artisanal product. More industrial production lines tend to use a blend of cocoa butter (the oily part of the cocoa seeds), cocoa beans, sugar and other ingredients, like milk, almonds, hazelnuts or other flavourings.
The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) classify cocoa as ‘fine or flavour’ or ‘bulk’ or ‘ordinary beans’, Fine or flavour beans have a delicious aroma and taste. These aromas and flavours depend on the variety, which can be Criollo, Forastero or Trinitario, but also on the composition of the soil, the climate and, above all, how the individual cocoa cultivator works.
To maintain its special aroma and flavour, a lot of care must be taken during the production process. The bean goes through at least four different production stages: fermentation, drying, roasting and conchage (or conching). Fermentation and drying is usually carried out by the factory straight after harvesting, but it is the roasting and conching process, which is carried out at the chocolate factory, that gives the food its unique organoleptic properties. Conchage (from ‘conche’, the name of the mixing machines used), invented in 1879 by Rudolph Lindt, is a process where melted chocolate is mixed for a very long time to ensure it has a perfectly smooth texture. The chocolate produced using this method is called ‘dark chocolate’.
Oh, we were getting a bit carried away there…. Another translation’s just come in. Now where did I hide my stash of chocolate…