donderdag 26 november 2020

Roasting as a crucial step in the bean-to-bar process.

 Roasting is one of the crucial steps in the bean-to-bar process to develop chocolate as we know it. Whether it’s in a coffee roaster, an adapted commercial oven or a dedicated cocoa roaster, chocolate makers play around with timings and temperatures to get the best flavors out of their cocoa beans.

For each origin they use, chocolate makers elaborate a so-called “roasting profile”, which is a protocol that they can follow to get the same result every time. Temperatures usually range from 120°C (225°F) to 150°C (302°F), while times go from a minimum of 15 minutes to a maximum of 40 minutes. Makers can opt for a light, medium or dark roast for a shorter or longer period of time. You will be surprised by how the same cocoa beans can develop extremely different flavors when temperatures and times are changed!

Roasting doesn’t only develop cocoa beans’ natural flavors, but also kills microorganisms such as bacteria on the outer shell, effectively sterilizing the beans. It also helps to separate the outer shell from the inner nibs: cocoa beans have a papery outer shell that must be removed before they can be made into chocolate, and roasting helps to dry and loosen this shell so that it is easier to remove, and only the “meat” of the beans will be left to make the chocolate.

Some chocolate makers decide to skip this process entirely to keep their final product as “raw” as possible. By not exposing the cocoa beans to high temperatures, their intention is to preserve all the nutrients and the health benefits of cacao as much as possible.

When the cocoa beans finish the roasting process, makers crush them and then separate the nibs from the shells during the breaking and winnowing steps, to then proceed into other machines.

The ending aromatic profile will be hugely impacted by the roasting profile chosen by the craft chocolate maker.


woensdag 11 november 2020

The fascinating history behind hot chocolate?


As early as 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers (as well as other ingredients)—a much different version from the hot chocolate we know today. They would mix the drink by pouring it back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed, and then enjoy the beverage cold. Although the chocolate drink was available to all classes of people, the wealthy would drink it from large vessels with spouts, which later would be buried along with them.

In the early 1500s, the explorer Cortez brought cocoa beans and the chocolate drink-making tools to Europe. Although the drink still remained cold and bitter-tasting, it gained popularity and was adopted by the court of King Charles V as well as the Spanish upper class. After its introduction in Spain, the drink began to be served hot, sweetened, and without the chili peppers. The Spanish were very protective of their wonderful new beverage, and it was over a hundred years before news of it began to spread across Europe.

When it hit London in the 1700s, chocolate houses (similar to today’s coffee shops) became popular and very trendy, even though chocolate was very expensive. In the late 1700s, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Hans Sloane, brought from Jamaica a recipe for mixing chocolate with milk, which made the drink more palatable in his opinion. Well, others agreed and the English started adding milk to their chocolate; it was then enjoyed as an after-dinner beverage.

Up until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used as a treatment for stomach and liver diseases as well as a special drink. Today, however, we simply treat this warm concoction as a beverage to sip and savor.

Now let us know: how do you like to drink your hot chocolate?