- Making a super-premium chocolate such as ours means the cocoa beans must be nearly perfect.
- Not only do their origin and genetics need to be perfect but also how the cocoa was fermented and dried—both highly skilled arts that few farmers perfect.
- Sourcing cocoa is doubly difficult because most farmers, proud of their cocoa and their trees, are ready to speak out, saying their cocoa is the best—and most of the time, they truly believe it is, no matter the quality.
- All in all, it's pretty tricky, and if you choose the wrong beans or suppliers, the consequences can be very expensive. Despite all the difficulties, it is highly rewarding to know that you have found a truly special product, if once buy from us.
How to make Chocolate with Cocoa Beans
Roasting and Grinding
While roasting, the shell of the cocoa bean separates from the bean kernel and is removed in the first step of the cracking or fanning process. The beans are cracked (not crushed) by being passed through serrated cones. The cracked beans are now called cocoa nibs.
As the shell is dry and lightweight, it can be winnowed from the cocoa nib. Winnowing is done by exposure to a current of air, so that the shells are blown free of the heavier nibs. The nibs contain approximately 53 percent cocoa butter, depending on the cacao species.
Grinding or Refining
The first grind of the beans is usually done in a milling or grinding machine such as a Home Grinder. The nibs are ground or crushed to liquefy the cocoa butter and produce what is now called chocolate liquor or chocolate liquid.
To further reduce the particle size of the cocoa mass (and any other ingredients, such as sugar or milk powder) and to distribute the cocoa butter evenly throughout the mass, coating all the particles.
The rolling process itself creates heat that melts and distributes the cocoa butter. As well as the flavor of the chocolate, manufacturers must decide on the § particle size for each of their chocolates. This is the first step to developing chocolate’s smooth and creamy mouth-feel.
Different percentages of § cocoa butter are removed or added to the chocolate liquor. Cocoa butter carries the flavor of the chocolate and produces a cooling effect on your tongue that you might notice when eating dark chocolate. Also, depending on the chocolate flavor desired, some or all of the following § ingredients are added: sugar, lecithin, milk or cream powder or milk crumb (used to produce a caramel-like taste in milk chocolate), and spices such as vanilla. The formula the chocolate manufacturer develops for combining specific ingredients with the chocolate liquor is what gives the chocolate its unique taste.
This process develops the flavor of the chocolate liquor, releasing some of the inherent bitterness and gives the resulting chocolate its smooth, melt-in-your-mouth quality. The conch machine has rollers or paddles that continuously knead the chocolate liquor and its ingredients over a § period of hours or days depending on the flavor and texture desired by the manufacturer.
Tempering and Forming Chocolate
For the last two steps in the chocolate process, the conched chocolate mass is tempered and molded into bulk bars or it may go into another production cycle to produce specialized retail products, such as coated-candy centers and molded items.
Cocoa Beans Health Benefits
Cocoa beans are considered to be nature's anti-depressant. These beans contain dopamine, phenylethylamine (PEA) and serotonin, all of which are used to promote positive mental health and moods. In addition to this, these beans also contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors and amino acid tryptophan. Monoamine oxidase (MOA) inhibitors work to keep dopamine and serotonin in the bloodstream longer, which could ease depression and promote feelings of well being. Tryptophan is important in the body's production of serotonin.
Research reveals that cocoa beans are perhaps the best source of antioxidants, containing up to ten percent antioxidant concentration levels. That is three times more antioxidants than green tea and twice the amount in red wine. Blueberries are often said to be a great source of antioxidants, however, while domestic blueberries have 32 antioxidants, and wild blueberries have 61, cocoa beans have 621!
Antioxidants have several health benefits. They protect against cell damage and reduce the risks of several kinds of cancer. Antioxidants also help regulate cholesterol levels.
Cocoa beans are also good for the cardiovascular system as they contain polyphenols, which has been proven to be quite beneficial for good heart health. Research indicates that polyphenols, as found in cocoa beans, might reduce blood pressure.
Cocoa beans contain magnesium. This is another nutrient that promotes good heart health. Magnesium increases heart strength and improves its condition. This helps to ensure that the heart will continue to effectively pump blood. Magnesium also decreases the risk of blood clots. This in turn, reduces the risks of strokes and heart attacks.
Cocoa beans also contain a substance known as: epicatechin . This is a compound so rich in health benefits that a Harvard professor thinks it should be considered a vitamin! It is suspected that the effects of epicatechin are comparable to that of anesthesia and penicillin. Epicatechin is also suspected to reduce the risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and strokes. Due to its bitter flavor, epicatechin is often removed from common cocoa products, therefore to reap the benefits of this compound it is necessary to purchase whole cocoa beans.
Cocoa beans reduce anxiety while simultaneously promoting alertness. A cup of cocoa can provide the same energy as a cup of coffee. However, due to the fewer stimulants in cocoa, there is no strong crash afterward, as there is with a cup of coffee.
A good number of the health benefits that are known to be contributed to cocoa beans indicate a possibility that they could be a weight loss aid. Research shows that the polyphenols in cocoa beans might improve sensitivity to insulin. Scientists are currently studying the connection between obesity and a condition known as Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Increased insulin sensitivity, from cocoa beans or dark chocolate for example, may support weight loss efforts. Further more, the natural anti-depressants found in cocoa beans might make it easier for individuals to stay on track with their diets.
Incorporating Cocoa Beans Into Your Diet
Cocoa beans, in their raw form, may be purchased at health stores. It is possible to purchase and consume them in that manner however many people find it difficult to deal with the harsh, bitter taste. Luckily there is a more pleasant tasting option, dark chocolate. There are specific characteristics that dark chocolate, selected for health, should contain. For example, healthy dark chocolate needs to have no less than 70% cacao. No milk or any other dairy products should be present in the chocolate as they inhibit the body's ability to absorb antioxidants. The chocolate should be made from cacao butter and not coconut or palm oil.