Fine chocolate is like fine wine; the growing area, raw material and the specific composition creates the final product. It is important to know the growing area and soil for a good wine and similar for growing cacao. It is also important to control and measure your production process where you take your cacao and make it into chocolate.
The find out more about making the perfect chocolate I therefore went to Ecuador – possibly the first area in the world where the cacao bean started to be cultivated, several thousands of years ago. This area suits the cacao bean well with suitable altitude above the sea and a good combination of temperature and rain. The cacao bean absorbs the flavors from the surrounding and selection of other crops around will therefore also affect the taste.
The Cacao Bean
The actual cacao bean, the type, is of importance. The most common cacao bean in Ecuador is the Forastero but for the best chocolate you should use the National cacao bean with less yield but much more flavors. The cacao bean is large and it is necessary to cut and extract the beans from the white interior before production can start.
Cacao beans are fermented and dried before the processing. At this moment the beans are still not tasting anything similar to chocolate or cacao. Thereafter production starts with roasting, cracking and winnowing (separation). After this you will have a powder that starts to taste and smell like cacao. After refining and conching you will have the pastry that both smells and tastes like the final chocolate. Final steps are tempering and cooling which also can be done at the chocolatier.
To produce chocolate with a good taste and flavor you need to have control of the key parameters during this process, from cacao to chocolate. As an example, sugar inside the cacao affects the intensity of the chocolate. Dairy flavors as well as the fat content affects bitterness and flavor.
Fortunately it is easy to accurate measure these key parameters with different instruments. Among these is the SoxROC extraction unit from OPSIS LiquidLINE that can extract crude fat from Chocolate and the additional HydROC for total fat determinations. With these instruments it is possible to control the bitterness and flavors in the final product. You can read more about OPSIS LiquidLINE solutions at http://www.liquidline.se/Industries/Food/tabid/949/Default.aspx.
Good chocolate are these days made all over the world, using different cacao beans and variations in the production process. However, the main steps and the importance to control key parameters is important everywhere.