Ask the Alchemist #56

We just finished Thanksgiving and had a wonderful roast turkey. We put it in for 5 hours at 325 F. Why can’t roasting cocoa beans be this simple?

First off, I want to thank everyone associated with Chocolate Alchemy. It’s both and honor and a privilege to work with all the wonderful people that I get to help make chocolate. Thank you.

This is a great question and I have to say almost had me scratching my head a little until I noticed that, in an unintentional way, it was a trick question. Sort of like ‘do you still love hershey’s kisses?’. The reason these are both trick questions is that they are making assumptions. I never loved hershey’s kisses, so I can’t still love them. It is the same above. In my opinion, and with my way of looking at it, what you had yesterday is not a roasted turkey. It was a baked turkey. Not that it was not good, but it was not roasted.

What is the difference? Well, the question might have been better is it said ‘can we bake cocoa beans’? To me, roasting is a process of applying different levels of heat, high at the beginning, gradually decreasing until what you are roasting, is done. Baking is usually at one temperature (although I’ll note, some baking is done at a high initial temperature, and then dropped quickly to a lower temperature for the rest of the time).

I too had a roast turkey yesterday. One I truly consider roasted.

I roasted it at the following temperatures

500 F for 30 minutes

450 F for 30 minutes

400 F for 30 minutes

350 F for 30 minutes

325 F for 1 hour

See the difference? Not unlike how I roast cocoa (and coffee). High temperature to get the roast going, and gradually lower temperatures until the roast is done. And for me, what I got was a lovely browned bird, juicy, not dry, with lots of flavor. And pretty fast. 3 hours instead of 5 hours. And to my tastes, better than baked.

So, can you ‘roast’ cocoa at one temperature. Technically not. Can you bake them? Sure. If you want. You may fine the flavor a little flat, maybe a little bland. Maybe a little like an over cooked holiday bird.

Might I suggest trying to roast your next bird, and see how you like it. And at the same time it should start to give you a little more feel for roasting cocoa. It’s not really any different.

I hope everyone enjoys their leftovers. And might I suggest a little chocolate to go with them?

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