How do you make chocolate? is a question asked so often, Google auto-corrects any chocoholics interested in finding out the answer. But how does a tiny cocoa bean become the chocolate we all know and love today? Keep reading to discover just how chocolate is made – step by step.
Step one: harvest the beans
The tropical cacao tree is the glorious source of our cocoa beans, where the fruit on the trees changes colour as they ripen, and the pods are picked between May and December. This is when the beans are popped out from the pods and covered in banana leaves to encourage them to ferment. Three to nine days later and our pods go a delicious dark brown colour and start to give off that chocolate smell that always has you running to the kitchen to see what sort of chocolate dessert your mum is baking.
Step two: roast and winnow
The next step is roasting the beans to bring out their colour, flavours and aromas. They then go through a machine to crack them open and separate the husks from the nibs – a process called winnowing.
Step three: grind and mix
Chocolatiers then grind and squish the nibs into a pulpy mass and butter, before mixing them with sugar and milk powder. An extra step of grinding here makes the cocoa bits even finer (and even more delicious).
Step four: conch and temper
Conching is a refining process that heats, stirs and adds flavour to remove any unwanted smells or tastes. After the conching process, the chocolate will reach its full flavour and is as smooth and gloopy as it can be.
Last step of the chocolate-making process? Cooling the temperature of the chocolate before raising it again to crystallise the butter, and make the chocolate firm and glossy – perfect.
3 chocolate facts from around the world
Now you know how chocolate is made, how’s about some tasty chocolate facts?
- Chocolate was a form of currency in Mayan times: Cacao beans were so sought after during the Mayan and Aztec times that they were used as a form of payment!
- The world’s first chocolate bar was made in 1847. With the help of his son, Joseph Fry created the first chocolate bar by mixing together cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar.
- The Swiss spend the most money on chocolate. According to The Guardian, Switzerland is the country that spends the most on chocolate, with Ireland and the UK coming in second and third.
It typically takes four separate processes to make the tasty chocolate treats we know and love today – right from the start when you harvest the beans, to the chocolate landing on your doormat when you get home.