Chocolate Alchemy Log – Testing in the Laboratory

I roasted 4 lbs (12 cups) of cocoa tonight. I really need to get my drum roaster finished. I think it will give a much better end product. This batch was done in the oven, distributed between two shallow dishes. I preheated to 425 F and put the beans in. At five minutes I gave them a stir and waited another 5 minutes. They were just starting to smell like chocolate. Ahhh :-) I reduced the oven temperature to 350, stirred at 15, 20 and 25 minutes. The final temperature of the beans was 290. A little higher than the 270 I was shooting for, but definitely not ruined. Very close though. My next batch I want to try holding at 425 for only 8 minutes, then reduce to 325 after 7 minutes, then reduce to my target temp of 265 for the remaining time, whatever that is. If you chocolate acolytes recall my very first roast in my fluid air coffee roaster, you will remember that at 265F it was just aroma nirvana. I have yet to get that again in the oven but keep trying for it. This was quite close.

After the roasting was done, I thoroughly mixed the two pans worth and got them reasonable cooled off. I divided the batch in two, and prepared to work a little chocolate alchemy, turning cocoa beans into cocoa liqueur. I have yet to work out a way to dehusk these things, but decided to try putting them through my Champion Juicer and see what happens. The worst is 2 lbs of ruined mess. Anyway, I started up the juicer with the pulp screen in place, filled the chute and started grinding. Wow, that is a bit tougher than just nibs. Near the end I was going by the handful and pushing a little hard. The whole juicer was heating up a bit and tried to cut out just at the end. I need to take it a little slower next time. If you follow the photos in the grinder section, you can see the progression of the mass. First pass gets it ground with a little fine liqueur out the bottom through the screen. Each subsequent pass I reduce my coarse mass about by half and it starts to dry out. And, lo and behold, what is not grinding and coming out the front is the husk :-). Maybe I won’t have to develop a cracker and winnower after all. Taste of course will determine if this actually works as a separator. Guess I will need a cracker after all just for comparison sakes. That’s ok. Anyway, after four passes I am at a point of diminishing returns. Everything is quite hot, including the liqueur. Maybe over 180 F. There is a slight burned smell in the air but no burnt flavor. A bit hot I think. I will cool the liqueur down between runs next time.

Final tally for 2 lbs of cocoa is 21 oz cocoa liqueur, 5 oz husk, and 6 oz “lost” in the juicer and general mess. Another reason to keep those batch sizes up as that 6 oz seems to be pretty constant regardless of size, so a one pound batch would be 6 oz lost, 3 oz (rounding) husk and only 7 oz cocoa liqueur. I think the next batch will be 3 pounds just for comparison sake.

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