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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Chocolate Obsession

How is chocolate made?  Seems like a simple enough question, but there are no simple questions, and there are no simple answers.  An extensive survey of the internet reveals dozens of explanations of the process and dozens of step-by-step visualizations.  They don't all match.  The big confusion is between steps 6 and 8 below of my most recent list of how chocolate is made (as best I can tell)
  1. Harvest
  2. Fermentation
  3. Drying
  4. Roasting (low and slow)
  5. Winnowing (cracking the bean) - reveals the nib, a pure cocoa bean
  6. Grinding
    • nib ground into cocoa mass (aka cocoa liquor)
    • further worked into cocoa solids (powder) and cocoa butter (fat)
  7. Conching - further refinement of rolling, kneading, heating, and aeration
  8. Tempering and molding
Below is a narrative explanation from Mast Brothers of how they make chocolate, and we all know these are honest, traditional chocolate artisans.

"We begin by literally hand-sorting every bean, ensuring our impossibly high quality standards are met. The cacao is then lightly roasted in small batches. A clean winnow gently removes the shells from the 'nib'. The nibs are slowly refined under a granite stone wheel for nearly three days while we slowly incorporate the other ingredients.

The finished chocolate is poured into bar shaped moulds, cooled, set, and then wrapped. Our signature papers wrap the chocolate using antique equipment, repurposed to our custom style, and then labeled. Now the chocolate is ready to be shipped!"

Here, then, would be the Mast step-by-step list:
  1. Literal hand-sorting of beans
  2. Small batch roasting
  3. Winnowing (cleanly and gently)
  4. Granite stone refining and inclusion of other ingredients (grinding? conching?)
  5. Mould, cool and set
  6. Wrapped in signature paper with antique equipment 
As you can see, the Mast list, seems to include in what other lists is sometimes "grinding" and "conching," which seem to be separate processes.  But what separates grinding and conching? ??