CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: In the hot room, chocolate For an online photo gallery of TCHO’s chocolate
is poured and molded by hand. Adjacent to the hot room factory, see makezine.com/14/proto.
is the cool room, where the bars are demolded. Stackable
bins hold a variety of chocolate samples that are bagged
and labeled by batch.
FROM POD TO PALETTE
By Timothy Childs, founder and
chief chocolate officer of TCHO
Chocolate starts from cacao beans, which grow
inside strange-looking, geometrically complex pods
that sprout directly out of the limbs and trunks of
cacao trees in the tropics.
There are four main phases for transforming
cacao beans into finished chocolate, and each phase
generally has 3– 4 steps:
1. Growing: planting, harvesting,
fermentation, and drying.
After the cocoa pods are harvested, the beans are
placed in boxes or heaps where they undergo active
fermentation for 5– 7 days. Fermentation cooks the
beans in their own juices to around 50°C ( 122°F).
Proper fermentation first stops the bean’s growth,
and then chemically alters its composition. It’s this
chemical transformation that coaxes out the more
complex and delicious flavors of cocoa beans. With
proper fermentation, you can make a good bean
great, and a great bean spectacular. While most
beans processed in the world are fermented poorly
or not at all, I only use very well fermented beans.
2. Processing: cleaning, roasting,
cracking, and winnowing.
Once the bean has been harvested, fermented, dried,
and roasted, we crack open the bean to separate the
shell from the meat of the bean (called nibs) in a
process called winnowing. When heated and crushed,
the nibs turn to a molten state, called cocoa liquor.
3. Refining: mixing, refining, and conching.
Sugar, additional cocoa butter, and vanilla are mixed
in with the liquor, then this mixture is refined down
to sub-20-micron size. Next, the almost-finished
chocolate is conched (a process that blows off
excess acids to improve flavor) for up to 72 hours.
4. Molding: tempering, molding,
cooling, and wrapping.
The finished chocolate is then tempered (a process
that forms crystals that help it solidify nicely when
cooled) on its way to being squirted into molds for
making bars. Yum!
32 Make: Volume 14