Written by : John Parks

The first step to making your own chocolate from scratch is roasting the cocoa beans. Roasting cocoa beans is pretty much like roasting coffee beans, only with some more specific requirements. You have the option of either roasting the beans in your own oven or use a coffee bean roaster Roasting the beans first not only gets rid of the contaminants that could be on raw cocoa beans, but most importantly, it brings out the flavor that everyone is familiar with. It’ll take anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes at 250 – 350 degrees F. Start roasting the beans at a high temperature, and then gradually bring it down. When the beans start to crack, you’ll know the process is complete.

The second step is the crack the beans into small nibs, while removing the husks by hand. If you did a good job of roasting the beans, the husks should be very easy to remove. You can speed up the process by stirring the nibs with your hands while blowing the husks away with a hair dryer. If you find yourself working with a large batch of beans, a special purpose-grinding mill can be bought for around $100.

The next step is to grind up the nibs and turn them into a cocoa liquid. To do this, hand-feed the nibs one handful at a time into a food processor or an electric cocoa grinder. A mix of cocoa liquid and husks will come of out the spout, so keep repeating the process until only the husks come out. The biggest challenge is finding a food processor that is powerful enough to do this, as most ordinary juicers, coffee grinders and food processors won’t be able to handle liquefying the nibs.

Now you’ll have to conch and refine your chocolate. This is a process that affects the taste, texture and smell of your chocolate. Normally, these processes have to be done separately, but both can be done at the same time with a good wet grinder. The way you’ll conch and refine largely depends on the type of equipment you use. After this, you’ll have to “temper” the chocolate, so that it’ll gain a shine and be hard enough not to melt in your hand. You can do this by hand or with a special tempering machine for larger quantities. All you have to do is to spread the melted chocolate out on a hard, non-porous kitchen top and bring it back together until the chocolate cools down to a thick and gooey mess. Do this as many times as needed until the chocolate comes to a shine. All that is left to be done is to pour the chocolate into any mold and cool it down. Then it’s “bon appetite”!

Making chocolate from scratch is a learning process; so if this is your first time, don’t expect that very first batch to be perfect. In the long run, practice makes perfect and you’ll even end up adding your own twist chocolate making by adding ingredients of your own or using different techniques.

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For more information on chocolate, visit http://www.howtomakechocolate.net.