Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Visit with Madre Chocolate: Making the Chocolate


As I’d mentioned yesterday, when I stopped by Madre Chocolate’s workshop in Oahu last month, I actually got to observe chocolate making. This, yes this, was possibly one of the best things I did while in Hawaii. This was infinitely better than lying on the beach, which I ended up not doing once, since it was more fun to take part in ocean swimming and chocolate discussions.

Let me introduce you to our friend the melanger.

That’s where we make our chocolate. We start with some cocoa butter, heat it up to around 115-120° F, and then add the nibs – which had a nice aroma and pleasing mild flavor that made it possible for me to nibble on a couple without being blown away by bitterness. Dave noted that these nibs had a shorter but warmer roast to conserve the fruity character, which was what resulted in the outstanding plain nib flavor.

I can only imagine how nicely the chocolate turned out.

It turns out that chocolate making isn’t exactly easy, and that trusty melanger can get jammed if the chocolate becomes too cold. Solution? A blast of hot air from $10 hair dryer to loosen everything up.

Genius. Pure genius.

As the melanger does its thing, the particulate diameter of the chocolate decreases continuously. As the limit of human detection is roughly 20 micrometers, Madre works to undercut this by hitting 15 micrometers to keep the chocolate smooth on the tongue. A micrometer lets us know how close we are getting, and though that batch wouldn’t be ready for molding before I left, another was in the tempering machine and ready for pouring.

I was amazed at how quickly they worked to mold all these bars. After all the roasting and conching, all the tempering…just a few minutes brings us dozens upon dozens of beautifully molded chocolate bars.

Beautifully molded chocolate that I brought back with me.

Thanks, Dave, for letting me see your operation for a few hours.

Have you ever seen chocolate made? Did you see them use a hair dryer?

4 comments:

  1. I've only seen chocolate made at jacques torres in NYC but I'm sure that's not a real experience. Sure did smell good though!

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  2. Even though I'm a fellow chocoholic, I've never actually seen chocolate being made! I'd love to check out a chocolate factory soon!

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  3. Oof I still have to figure out what I'm going to do with my 10 pounds of beans from Ecuador. I so do not have the home equipment to make my chocolate dreams a reality. Even the cheapest set-up could push me into financial ruin. Hah, what a sob story. Not:)

    Sounds like you had a terrific time!

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  4. CONGRATS on the win, and on owning your "Athena" status—anyone who makes cookies like that is a goddess of wisdom, indeed!

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