Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chocolate: The Origin Part 3

This is the third post of the Chocolate Origin Series:
Origin Part 1
Origin Part 2

During normal pressing process, the chocolate liquor first undergoes hydraulic pressure system in order extract certain percentage of cocoa butter. The extracted butter can be kept either in liquid or moulded form. The leftover cocoa solid material (cocoa cake) can either be broken into smaller pieces (kibbled) and sold into the generic cocoa cake market, or ground into cocoa powderused for hot chocolate, baking, chocolate ice-cream, etc.

Another popular pressing process involves treating the cocoa nibs or the liquor with an alkali solution (alkalizing), which reduces the acidity by increasing the normal pH factor from about 5.0 up to 8.0. This treatment is also known as "dutching".  This process makes the chocolate darker, gives it a milder, but more chocolaty flavor, and allows it to stay in suspension longer in liquids such as milk. However, cocoa butter extracted from alkalized liquor is more pungent and a less desirable odor.

Watch from 2:15 and onwards to see how cocoa butter is extracted by artisanal chocolate maker.

So when does the chocolate we eat actually get made?
Finally, chocolate that we eat is made from the process called Conching. The cocoa powder, the butter, and sugar are added back together at a predetermined ratio and melted.  If milk chocolate is been made, then milk would be added here.

"Conching" is a long process of intense mixing, stiring, and aerating of heated liquid chocolate. During this long process various off-flavored, bitter substances as well as water vapor evaporate away from the chocolate. The long intense mixing action assures complete coating of every solid particle with cocoa butter, giving the chocolate a well developed and delicious flavor and texture. As a rule, the longer chocolate is conched, the smoother it will be. The process may last for a few hours to three full days, or even longer.

After conching, the liquid chocolate may be shipped in tanks or tempered and poured into molds for sale in blocks to confectioners, dairies, or bakers. It may also be converted into proprietary bars for sale direct to the consumer market.

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