Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate: From Bean to Bar

Image from via Google Images
No one knows chocolate like my friend, Ultimately Chocolate does.  I've learned so much about what "good" chocolate is because of her. We met a few years ago in passing at a Farmers' Market, where she was selling her sumptuous, decadent cupcakes.  I remember her because she told me she was new to the Island (as was I) and that she was from Ottawa. Being from Toronto/Montreal, I was excited to meet someone my age and who was from my neck of the woods (sort of).

I didn't see her again until a few years after that (we live on opposite ends of the Island). She was doing a chocolate tasting session at Loco Beanz, a local coffee house.  My husband and one of my students attended the chocolate and coffee tasting session with me. It was so fascinating to hear the history of chocolate and to see what coffees and chocolates paired with certain meals.

Thus began my friendship with the lovely Ultimately Chocolate owner.  It also helps that we have daughters who are the same age.

She taught me about the quality of cacao beans, the aroma, taste, appearance, "snap", and how to know how well chocolate has been tempered.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know Ultimately Chocolate as the creator of The TOFFLE.

When I was asked to come over and make chocolate from bean to bar, of course I said yes! She ordered a kit with Hawaiian cacao beans from Madre Chocolate. She explained that the chocolate we were going to make was going to be more of a minimally processed one. Exciting!

The kit came with Hawaiian cacao beans, cacao nibs, 70% Dark Hamakua Hawai’i Chocolate, and a recipe (vegan & soy-free).

Interesting to note: chocolate from Madre Chocolate 
is carefully made bean-to-bar in Honolulu, Hawaii from lightly processed cacao that preserve many healthy antioxidants while still providing a rich, deep flavor you can enjoy while feeling good. In most other chocolate, fermenting and roasting the cacao destroys many of the antioxidants.
 I have to tell you that we had a hard time converting all the measurements.  Math is clearly not our forte!

We had to roast the cacao beans in the oven.

 Cacao beans above and cacao nibs below. Hey, lady! Cacao nibs? Cacao bean? What? Don't know what they are? Here, you can do some homework over here. Sorry. I just didn't want this to be an excruciatingly lengthy blog post full of definitions and such. :)
 This is the lovely Madre chocolate bar that ours was supposed to taste/look/smell/feel/be like.
"Because it's minimally processed, it will have a slightly gritty, sandy texture in your mouth. It won't be like that silky overly processed stuff everyone is used to." I was warned.

To be honest, I actually really loved the texture!
 See the trusty calculator in the background? It came in handy with all the conversions!
 Another important gadget? A coffee grinder.  We ground the sugar, vanilla, cacao butter in that baby.  We tried to get it as finely ground as possible.

 You can't see it in this photo, but we're winnowing the cacao beans with a hairdryer! That's what the instructions told us to do! Wind winnowing is an ancient agricultural method of separating grain from chaff.  If we had to stand outside and winnow our cacao beans in the wind, we'd still be there today! Ha!

The hairdryer was very efficient, although we were a bit clumsy and kept blowing debris all over the kitchen.
 For the most part, the papery skin came off easily after the beans were roasted and "winnowed".
 Next step: Grinding the cacao beans in the trusty coffee grinder.
 Into the blender with some other ingredients.  Then into the double boiler. Let me tell you, I had no idea chocolate making was such an exact process! It's clearly a science and an art!
 The Madre Chocolate that ours was supposed to be a replica of.
 Tempering is the final stage of chocolate making, and probably one of the most important. I was so impressed when my friend was teaching me about tempering and how to tell if chocolate is properly tempered.  I cannot stress enough how awesome she is! She never ceases to impress!

 Et voila! The finished product!  Finest Hawaiian 70% dark chocolate.
 Pretty cool, yes?

**Thank you to Ultimately Chocolate for including me in this really fun and educational experience!


hotmommy said...

Oh that is too cool!

Janvi said...

Nice collection...Thanks for sharing with us...I really like it... Kitchen Labels

Cherry said...

Oh that's a fun activity! Eric EATS cocoa beans. He roasts them, winnows and then eats them. So we have them in the house fairly frequently. Come to think of it we have cocoa butter too. I could totally do this (with all my spare time and all)
Looks like you had a great time. And great doco and picks of it all.

Also...Mmmm Toffles.

When Elizabeth is older and the new one isn't so new, I've got to make a trip up to hang out. Maybe I can do a girls trip with her someday :)

Christine said...

Thanks! It was lots of fun!

Christine said...

Thank you! :)

Christine said...

WOW! Eric is hardcore! I tried eating the cocoa beans before, but they are just so bitter! :) YES! Definitely a visit and hanging out would be so much fun!!! xo

NPC said...

OMG delicious! :)This is an awesome process. Thanks for sharing!

Christine said...

Thanks so much! It was so much fun!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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