Making Chocolate: the different stages

At Christmas, for your birthday or cooked into a delicious dessert, any occasion is good to enjoy chocolate! You love it, savour it, share it and offer it. But do you know how chocolate is made? This article reveals all the secrets of this very special process. Discover the stages of chocolate making, from roasting to moulding.

Step 1: the history of chocolate

It all starts at the Cacaoyer. This capricious tree only grows in tropical countries. It can be found in different equatorial areas of Africa, America and Indonesia. It produces fruit three years after planting, and only 1% of all the flowers that cover it will become pods. It produces about 80 pods per year, and for each pod it will take 4 to 6 months to ripen. So a lot of patience is already required during this first stage, but the following stages require even more. Each pod contains about forty seeds, which will go through fermentation and drying. The seeds will be roasted for half an hour or left in the sun to become real cocoa beans and thus develop the cocoa's aromas, and then they will be dried in the sun to avoid the mould caused by fermentation. This drying process can take up to four weeks to be as correct as possible.

Stage 2: Roasting

The cocoa beans that are finally harvested are roasted, a key stage in the manufacture of chocolate, as this is where the taste of the beans is really revealed. Roasting is carried out at around 120°C and lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Once roasted, the beans are transported to the factory and sorted: foreign bodies, such as strings, pieces of pods and dust are removed. They are then sent to a crusher to be broken up and stripped of their husk.

Stage 3: the cocoa liquor

Then comes the grinding and refining of these chips, resulting in a very fine, fluid and liquid paste called "cocoa liquor" or "cocoa mass". This ingredient is essential in the chocolate manufacturing process. This paste is the very essence of cocoa powder, cocoa bars or chocolate. Once this texture is obtained, other ingredients are mixed into the paste to make chocolate: Cocoa butter and sugar for dark chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and milk powder for milk chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar and milk for white chocolate. After this, the paste from this mixture goes through a grinder to reduce the size of the chocolate particles. This step allows the chocolate to obtain the fineness that we know it. This liquor is very liquid because it is composed of half fat, cocoa butter.

Stage 4: conching

The chocolate then goes through the conching phase. Brought to a high temperature (80 degrees), it is kneaded and mixed for many hours (from 12 to 48 hours). This eliminates the volatile acids formed during the fermentation of the beans, develops the aromas of the chocolate, and makes the chocolate mass fluid and mouldable. This stage in the manufacture of chocolate, called conching, gives the chocolate a melting and creamy appearance, for your greatest pleasure!

Step 5: Tempering and moulding

Finally came the tempering and moulding stage. Once its temperature has dropped to around 45°C, it is sent to a moulding machine which will take care of forming the beautiful tablets that you know so well, or other more original shapes, then it will be cooled even more, and packed. This long manufacturing process requires a patience that is typical of chocolate makers. Specialising in top-of-the-range handmade chocolate, the chocolate maker masters the art of chocolate making to perfection and has a great deal of experience. By choosing its chocolates, you are guaranteed to spend a unique and unforgettable tasting moment.
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