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brewing cocoa

Ask the Alchemist #270

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Ask the Alchemist #270

Before I get this week’s questions (which are a little non-standard and are actually just me answering an email in more detail - yes, I still try to answer any and everything that comes in) I want to announce a new Brewing cocoa.

It is a new Organic blend roasted a bit deeper than The Big O.

Tequila Moonrise - Organic Chocolate, rich and deep, to warm you up while watching that beautiful moonrise in the chilly night while sipping a neat pour of Elixir of Agave. 

 
Tequila moonrise.jpg
 

Level: Novice

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I have a question about roasting brewing chocolate.  I found your article where you talk about roasting to different temperatures, for example Shadow's Silhouette to 333 F.  I don't currently have a Behmor (I will eventually), so I'm roasting in the oven.  If I want a dark roast, do I set my oven on 410 F for example and roast until the bean temperature reads 410 F or do I start at a lower temperature and gradually increase it.  I'm just looking for some roasting guidance here for brewing chocolate.

 

On a minor pedantic note it is Brewing Cocoa.  Chocolate is cocoa that has been refined with sugar. Brewing cocoa is ground roasted whole cocoa beans (i.e. not just nibs)

 Just like I do for roasting for chocolate, I really don’t recommend roasting in the oven if you can avoid it all costs.  Probably the number one reason I don’t like it is that it is nearly impossible to teach it and teaching is what I’m all about.

 The reasons it is so hard to teach (to the point of impossible) is three fold.

  1.  Ovens have different power (and come in both electric and gas)

  2. Ovens heat unevenly (no matter how much you stir)

  3. Everything changes depending on how much you roast.

I want you to think about any roasting and how you were approaching it.

 If you roast a chicken and want it roasted to 165 F would you put it into a cold oven and heat to 165 F?   Would you pre-heat to 165 F and cook it (it really isn’t roasting now, but slow cooking) to 165 F?  No, you are most likely going to pre-heat to 350-450 F and roast it until it hits the temperature you want.

You are going to do the same exact thing with cocoa.  Pre-heat to a temperature a good bit over your goal end temperature and roast it until you hit that temperature.

Roasting cocoa isn’t magical. It isn’t a special snowflake. It is food and you should think about it like any other food you roast or cook. 

I can’t give you much more than that except to say stir them every 5-10 minutes to try and keep them as even as possible and the higher you set the temperature the faster the roast will progress and overall you want it to progress as fast as possible.

 Oh, and there is one more thing.  And it is a big something.  You might be able to do a roast into the mid 300s but I would absolutely not recommend roasting to 410 F inside a house.  There is a LOT OF SMOKE  at that level.  When I roast to that level in my professional roaster, with a commercial hood, it over loads the capacity of the draw fans and we have smoke spill over into the warehouse.  I don’t even want to think about what that would be like in your oven.

 What is your opinion about the Spectra Mini?

 I don’t care for it.  The higher rpm coupled with the smaller drum can fling chocolate and sets up a situation where you can actually over refine in short order. There is a reason I don’t offer it and I just gave it.

 I know the Gourmia will not roast as many lbs as the Behmor, but that aside how do you feel about the end product and the quality of the roaster itself?

It roasts the same amount as the Behmor.  I like the roast quality quite a bit and like that I can monitor the temperature as is with my IR thermometer.

 Just an observation here.  If I type in "brewing" in the search box on the website, it brings up many articles.  If I go to read one and then go back, the article list is not there.  I have to erase "brewing" and retype it to get the articles to reappear.  I tried this in Internet Explorer and Chrome.  Do you have any suggestions?


I just tried that in IE, Chrome and Firefox and I didn’t get that behavior at all.  My only thought is to ask if you have any script or ad blockers in place. Yeah, I know that isn’t super helpful.

Until next wee, let’s go make some chocolate.

 

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