In 2015, JACEK Chocolate launched it’s inaugural bean-to-bar collection (read more about why), and we want to show you how it is done, and how the bean becomes chocolate in 12 days! Chef Curtis Jones, Head Chocolate Maker, shows the process of making chocolate once the cocoa beans have arrived at JACEK’s studio in Sherwood Park, AB. If you want to learn more about the beans before they arrive at our doorstep, read about Jacqueline’s visit to cacao farms & fermentation centre in Costa Rica.
Step 1: Quality control
Taste, smell and check the colour/size of the beans to make sure that they meet the JACEK criteria of quality.
Step 2: Sort the beans
Cacao is of course grown on trees, fermented & dried outside, and bagged by hand so it is likely that there might be a few leaves and branches, or some ill formed beans that need to be removed before the chocolate making process can begin.
Step 2: Roast the beans
The beans are roasted for between 12-15 minutes, depending on the variety and it’s origin. We only have a small oven, so this is done in very small batches on perforated sheets. Roasting is done for two reasons; it develops the flavour of the bean and it kills any remaining microbes from the fermentation process that happens before the beans are shipped.
Step 3: Winnow the beans
Winnowing is the process of removing the shell that surrounds the cocoa nibs (essentially, this is the ‘meat’ of the bean which is used for chocolate). Chef Jones is a wizard, and built an in-house winnowing machine that cracks the bean, and removes the outer husk which is blown into a bucket, and the cocoa nibs fall into a pan at the bottom.
DAY TWO to FOUR
Step 4: Refining the beans
The cocoa nibs are then added to our refiner along with sugar (we keep it pure- no vanilla or soy lecithin), which comprises of two large granite wheels that turn and crush the nibs into finer particles, aiming for a size of 20-µm. The chocolate will refine for 72 hours. Once the particle size has been reached, the resulting warm liquid mass will release any additional acidity to give the chocolate a beautifully delicate flavour.
DAY FIVE to ELEVEN
Step 5: Let the chocolate rest
It is now time for the chocolate to rest, as it went through a 3-day transformation process. The chocolate is wrapped in parchment, labelled and rests for at least a week.
Step 6: Tempering & Molding
The chocolate is now ready to be made into bars so that it can be enjoyed. The chocolate goes through the tempering process (heating and cooling to achieve the proper crystallization for optimal flavour release, snap and shine), then it is molded into a bar.
Step 7: Packaging
The bars are then hand-packed into a clear cellophane bag to prevent oxidization, and placed into the respective bar envelope as the finishing touch.