Now that our cocoa beans have been roasted and ground into nibs, it’s time for the next stop on our tour- THE COLD ROOM.
Roasted cocoa nibs are ground with sugar and ‘conched’ to produce chocolate.
This conching process happens in the Grinding Room, which is not visible from the windows since the machine is quite noisy and all of the action is locked inside of the machine’s barrel and out of sight. The conching process is, in many ways, the key to unlocking chocolate’s taste and complexity, and each chocolate maker has a different process they follow.
Initially, our cocoa nibs and organic sugar are ground together into increasingly miniscule particles. At our Chocolate Factory, this takes a full 24 hours to accomplish. Most of this time is actually spent grinding the sugar crystals down into particles so small that you cannot feel them in your mouth. There’s nothing in chocolate for sugar to dissolve into, so the crystals are still there, they’re just extremely tiny.
At Black Mountain Chocolate Factory, we pride ourselves on using simplicity and high-quality, organic ingredients in our chocolate. Our Signature Dark Chocolate, the base of all our chocolate products, has just 4 ingredients. In order to make 100 pounds of chocolate, we fill the grinder with about 68 pounds of cocoa nibs, 2 pounds of cocoa butter, 30 pounds of sugar, and a touch of sunflower lecithin.
The last portion of the grinding process, as we discussed above, is called conching. During conching, the particles don’t get any smaller, but the chocolate is heated and stirred continuously in order to drive off unwanted volatile compounds, and to ensure that all the cocoa and sugar particles are evenly coated with cocoa butter. This conching process ensures that the chocolate you eat is as smooth as possible. When the conching process is finished, the chocolate is ready for use in the Cold Room. Look for the next QR code to continue your exploration.
Want to get geeky with chocolate molecules? Let Material Science Grad Student Ming walk you through the molecular composition of chocolate
Or let Hank from the SciShow explain the science of chocolate
Think this whole chocolate-making process sounds easy? Watch Emmy, a YouTube Food Vlogger, try to make chocolate from home…